In this episode, we explore how to become aware of aggressive feelings while finding alternative paths toward a more fulfilling and inspiring life. You will find aids to express yourself without causing unnecessary harm while encouraging you to see the unmet needs that made you angry in the first place. The journey begins with awareness of your aggression, encompassing emotions like frustration, impatience, irritability, and contraction—any form of uptightness.
Humility, honesty, and self-awareness help you identify what you really need. For most of you, it will be helpful to go to the top navigation at awarenessthaheals.org and download the Introspective Guides to help identify your needs. You will also be supported to express what you really need in a tone that makes it most likely that you’ll be heard while allowing the potential of wisdom to intervene. As you cultivate awareness of your aggression, you begin to experience the first step toward increasing enhanced peace, trust, and connection while tuning in to your nourishing and supporting tone of voice.
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Awareness That Heals, Episode 111.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock, has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges, especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.
Robert Strock (00:47):
I appreciate so much you joining us again at Awareness That Heals, where we do our very, very best to be aware of what’s most challenging to us and then look for the direction of how we can best take care of ourselves. And the key is attempting to do that at the same time. And this is not something I know that I was ever taught in growing up, in my spiritual travels, and my psychological travels. And so it opens up the possibility of being able to both honor the human side of you and also to find the most essential parts of your heart to care for where you are. And these challenges that we’re all facing are absolutely universal for all of us. Nobody gets a free pass in life.
And how we can care for ourselves when we’re in these challenges is so crucial. And today we’re going to focus on one of the most essential ways we can support peace both inside ourselves and around ourselves. We’re going to be supported to develop our awareness of the ways we were aggressive or we are aggressive or tight or angry or impatient or intolerant or all those kind of what I frame as resistant emotions. This is very unusual as most of us hide or judge our own aggression. Then we’re going to be doing a guided meditation that will help you experience, especially if you put yourself in the center of it, how you can both be with the aggression and express yourself without creating unnecessary harm. It is what, as we look back at history, and today, what much of humanity has not been able to do and developing this capacity has great implication not only for our quality of life and those we love, but also is a massive contribution by modeling what’s needed for the world.
Awareness is the key starting point of neutralizing potentially devastating consequences, and I’m speaking particularly of awareness of aggression. When we are left to being impulsive, one of the areas, each of us have enormous needs that usually get unrecognized is to become much more aware of our own aggression in all the different ways it expresses itself, including frustration, impatience, irritability, contraction, just being uptight in any way. And it’s a key that when we’re aware of the aggression that we develop the capacity to go something like, ah, I see it, or I’m glad I can see it, that we have the ability to be an awareness or a witness that isn’t going to just compound it because we could become aware and go, oh shit, there I am judging again, which is the same thing over and over again. And even if you catch yourself judging yourself five times and then you say, oh, I’m aware I’ve been judging myself five times.
I want to calm it down. I want to see it for what it is. I want to see it is my aggression, my impatience, and not believe the story that we tell ourselves that, well, it’s because she did this or that, or life did this or that, and it’s a natural reaction. Well, it is a natural reaction, but it’s not helpful to just dump it on the world or to suppress it. So as you’re listening to this right now, just let yourself go inside and start to scan where and how you express your anger, your frustration, your impatience, and all those other type feelings. What’s your way?
And of course, I’m not saying that we only have one way. What are your ways? And as you see an area where you’re agitated in some sort of way, see if you can start to say, oh, good for me, that I can see it, that I’m angry or irritated, impatient. And no matter what I believe or I’ve told myself, triggered it from the outside, the important thing is I can zero in on my own, what’s called reaction, which may be more accurately if it’s slowed down, could be called my action no matter how we’re treated.
This is very rare to be that aware and this awareness can give us choices on how we respond in a way that can be a breakthrough. This is especially true when we can use this tolerance, acceptance, appreciation, and caring to contain ourselves. That means to not act out impulsively and also not to suppress it. And it’s important to recognize that almost all of us have a justification for why we’re aggressive with saying something like, well, you should have seen what provoked me or what they did. Now that’s almost a universal truth. We believe I did it because of you. And of course there’s elements of truth in that. But if we take a more contemplative approach to life, can we have a version of the buck stops here or the negative flow can be improved from here? Can we take that level of accountability and attempt to purify or move the quality of our feeling in a direction that’s going to improve quality of life? This takes humility, honesty, and self-awareness to be able to be aware and let it stop yourself in your tracks or even after your tracks, just stopping yourself saying, I don’t want to continue this. This is one of the greatest sources of peace that we can give to ourselves and others. Believing the illusion that expressing resistant emotions is helpful, like impatience or intolerance is an intimacy killer.
It’s a self-esteem killer. It’s a heart killer. Maybe killer’s a little strong, but it’s certainly one that creates wounds. When we look at the ramifications in the world of excessive anger, it’s actually the unseen cause or a contributing cause to war. Both the distortion of thought and the distortion of emotion is the cause of killing each other it’s so easy to justify and truly, it’s a heroic act to be able to stop yourself at these times and start this contemplation of what am I actually experiencing right now and how do I handle it? We’re going to deal with how to discover and express our underlying needs, whether it’s kindness or good communication, sensitivity, or one of the many other good qualities or qualities that would support well-being in future meditations. In this one, we’re going to solely focus on just staying aware of your own aggression. That in itself is a mini miracle. This one emphasizes the first step of pure awareness and its capacity to stop fostering battle. You’re going to be given a chance to catch yourself and to see these benefits in the guided meditation that’s going to be coming up next.
Guided meditation is for so many people, the best way to truly gain benefit in your response to personal challenges. As you invest and bring your own experience to the guided meditations, you’ll give yourself the best chance to change longstanding patterns from suffering, toward a state of well-being, peace, and healing. It’s important to put yourself in a comfortable body position in a private space where you’re not disturbed. Turn off your phone and be ready to really be alert. So start off by noticing just where your attention is right now. Don’t try to change it in any way. No pressure to be anywhere, anywhere special. Just be aware what your mind is thinking and if you can slow it down, what your heart and body are feeling. And maybe you’re listening to the voice that’s speaking and what your reactions are. Simply notice where your awareness is focused without judgment or if you see that there’s judgment, let the awareness focus and go, ah, judgment. This being aware of where we are is one of the most gifted aspects of being alive, and we so rarely, most of us treasure it, devote ourselves to it, what’s really happening?
So put your awareness on your belly and heart and notice how you’re breathing without trying to change anything. Just stay aware of how relaxed or how tense you are as you take in your next couple of breaths. Now ask yourself, what is the most significant emotion that you express that has elements of aggression? This is a brave question. It could be anger, frustration, irritation, impatience, annoyance, intolerance, sarcasm. Take a few seconds and look. Really, look, ah, this is my tendency and hopefully the ah, this is my tendency, doesn’t have any or much judgment in it because that’s what awareness is. Awareness isn’t the judge. Awareness sees the judge. So just see, ah, this is the way I frequently do it. Maybe it’s subtle, hard to see. Maybe you’ve never seen it before, but let yourself be aware. And if there’s a judge of it, recognize that’s not the awareness, that’s just the judge, which is another form of aggression. And see if you can appreciate that you are using your awareness to potentially create benefit for your life and those around you by humbly and courageously, seeing what you would normally let stay out of your stable awareness.
This seeing stably, your form of aggression is an incredible act of potential being opened if we just act out. If you just act out in the same ways, then your life could almost be put on a video and mail it in because you’re not going to grow, you’re not going to improve your quality of life, you’re still going to piss off the same people. You’re going to still be in the same power struggles. So see if you can feel the motivation to just stably notice, yes, this is my way. No matter what you see, do your best to name the feelings if it’s anger just as gently as possible, say anger and the same for impatience and so forth. And stay in this precious state of awareness.
Robert Strock (17:35):
Noticing, the longer you can sustain your awareness, or particularly your awareness of your aggressive feelings, the better chance to increase your mastery of gaining control and choice of what you energize and what your other options are. This is an act of courage and strength, just to be able to see what we normally view as being strong. But it is a form of false strength. It is both defensive and oftentimes offensive. See if you have the courage, not to judge it, just to see it. If you judge it and you stay judging it and you think it’s awareness, it’s not going to help. If you judge it and you see it and you have the original form of aggression, that’s wonderful. Let yourself realize that the true strength is being able to stand up for yourself as a response that you choose, rather than a negative reaction that is impulsive. See if this makes sense to you and see if you can see how big of an ask this really is and how much more sensitive your world can become, would become, will become, and it’s likely to be contagious because as you become more accountable for your form of aggression, the odds are so overwhelming that the people around you will really notice that this is a bit like a lobotomy for most of us, as we’re usually taught to express our feelings even when they create harm. Even in psychotherapy, oftentimes there’s an encouragement to express your feelings, which from this vantage point, it’s very clear that’s harmful. Take a moment and see how true this has been for you, either receiving these feelings or putting them out. I literally don’t know anybody that doesn’t do it in some way. Now, it might seem a little tricky because aggression can also be in the form of just withholding, being cold, not wanting to be sexual anymore, just out of choice, out of spite. So that may also be your way. Oh, I move away. I just say, well, I’m not going to give to you anymore. And again, not to judge that, but just to be aware of that. So coming back to your form of aggression, recognize you have this capacity to be like a mirror, seeing what is happening, which allows the potential for a form of wisdom to intervene. Again, it’s so important because for your life, you’re the boss because this makes sense to you that you want to inspire yourself to be this contemplative and that will then guide you to further potentials of how then you can respond.
How often can you catch that glimpse when aggression arises in some cases, maybe even before the aggression arises? Can you see this as a potential ongoing informal prayer that would be beneficial to give yourself? May I become more and more aware of my aggression to enhance peace, trust, and connection? And while you’re doing this, allow yourself to hear your tone of voice. Can you say that same prayer with a tone of voice that’s going to nourish you, support you, encourage you? Are you motivated to give yourself the opportunity to take what is normally maybe at best, a quick fleeting awareness? When you see your tone and add the prayer, may I become more and more aware of my aggression to enhance peace, trust, and connection? Can you see the potential of that welcoming your awareness of anger and related feelings with, oh, good, I can see it and go into silence and contain myself and be curious how I can better take care of myself and those around me. You can literally become more and more your awareness itself at the deepest level, and you can stay there with practice and use it to awaken alternatives.
Can you see the inspiration? Can you see the paradox that your awareness of aggression or whatever your particular form of aggression is, doesn’t have to own you? The awareness of it doesn’t have to increase it. It paradoxically has the potential to denuclearize it. Finally, your sense of self, your identity can be more the awareness of your form of aggression than the aggression itself. I’m going to say that again. Finally. Your sense of identity can be more the awareness of your form of aggression than the aggression itself. May this be so for you.
So again, where does this leave you authentically, genuinely not trying to be ahead of yourself, not shortchanging yourself. Are you in touch and do you have a sense of the high stakes of being aware of your aggression and it opening up the probability, certainly the possibility, of changing your capacity to find real strength. Just pause for a second. Can you feel the longing to find real strength, to be able to say what you need, rather than bark or bite or be impatient or intolerant? Hopefully, this inspires you to be captivated with curiosity as to how you can give yourself reminders and deepen your choice to wake up your awareness at these critical times that we all have.
If so, this sets you up perfectly to continue onto the next meditation that will guide you on how to really make this link tangible. How to move from your awareness of your aggression to meet your needs and the needs of others as well, let into your heart that this awareness of aggression is going to be given step-by-step alternatives of cultivating real strength. Continue to ask, because again, you are the authority for yourself. Does this really make sense to you? And my prayer is, may this create benefit for you, for those that you love and for the world. Thank you for your heart and your mind listening.
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