In Episode 1 of Awareness That Heals, we explore the first of four levels of awareness: “Being Aware of Being Unaware.” It is a challenging revelation when we recognize that we are often unaware of our own reactions. This is especially true at times when we are stirred up within and impacted by difficult feelings like fear, anger, anxiety, or pain. By facing our human limitations, we begin to set the stage to genuinely live more humbly and connected with ourselves and others, rather than overly confident. We invite you to tune into our series.
Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Robert’s Book, Awareness that Heals
Free Downloadable Introspective Guides
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Awareness That Heals, Episode One.
Robert Strock: (00:05)
Any fight that we have, any struggle we have with someone we love, we’re sure it’s them on an ongoing basis. There’s no chances, 95% of our unconscious it’s their unconscious. And so it’s so important that as you’ve listened to this, that you really apply it to yourself and realize how here and now valuable it is to witness, even wake up in the morning and have a thought that, Oh, I’m 95% of unconscious.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity, to have a more, a 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: (01:16)
Thanks for joining us today and hope you’re finding inspiration and new perspectives in awareness that heals, today with me are my co-hosts Dave, my longtime partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and 50 year closest friend and Shelley, my dear friend from the moment I met her 12 years ago, also a board member at Global Bridge Foundation and psychotherapists. And we’re starting today to give the first of a series of episodes based on a book I published last year called Awareness That Heals bringing heart and wisdom to life’s challenges. We’ll be adding a personal touch to it and current stories and events to update it, to hopefully allow it to touch you in places that matter. Robert it’s great to be here. Thank you for allowing the participation. This one is especially dear to my heart, having been with you through the journey of the book itself. And of course, the 50 years of seeing the evolution of what’s in it, in your personal life. So I’m excited. I’m ready and look forward to it and I’m happy to be here, guys.
Shelley Pearce: (02:40)
Thank you for inviting me. Always love collaborating with all of you.
Robert Strock: (02:42)
And all I can say is I’m very, very grateful that you’re both here and no way it would be close to the same without you both here and in my life as well. So today we’ll be exploring four levels of awareness that are foundational to understand how we can use our most sensitive and heartfelt awareness to really cultivate healing in our lives. And to those around us. This will help us to see the ingredients necessary, to have awareness, really find its greater potential rather than leave us stuck or potentially stuck. And to summarize the levels of awareness we’ll be covering. They include awareness of our unawareness, fleeting awareness, intellectual awareness, and finally awareness that heals.
Robert Strock: (03:51)
So starting with awareness of our unawareness, of course, there are degrees of this. It’s not black and white, that we’re completely unaware of our unawareness. We all have some, at least minimal sense of being unaware, but as neuroscientists have discovered for quite a long while we’re about 95% unconscious. And when we really let that in, we can view that as being a bummer. Yeah, depressing, humiliating, or we can view it as inspirational and motivational to wake up. And I think as we look at the world right now, it might even make more sense to realize, Oh, we’re 95% unconscious. It looks like we’re acting like we’re 95% unconscious when it comes to so many things that we’re observing between the virus and global warming. And I won’t go on.
David Knapp: (05:08)
And I just like to say something right there, which is so, uh, the points you’re making are so poignant so much applicable to one of maybe the first turning points in my life.
David Knapp: (05:22)
When I was maybe 21, I think I was a senior in college. I had taken an elective course in psychology having been a business major. And the teacher basically allowed everybody just to talk in an encounter group format where you could say anything you wanted to anybody. And everybody had something to say, but me, um, I just saw life and I thought I was fine and it was all good. And they, I got jumped on so significantly for the first time in my life. It’s like I had no clue how to respond. I had no language inside of me to speak to anybody in the room about what they were feeling, what they’re experiencing for the first time in my life that I remember because I was, you know, I kind of glided through as pretty nice guy, pretty shy.
David Knapp: (06:13)
And all of a sudden I saw, I don’t know, I don’t know anything about what’s going on inside of myself. And it was devastating. And what you’re talking about was just excrutiaingly painful. And at the same time, uh, thankfully with some support and kind of being so shocked out of my view of myself I decided to become a psychology major, changed the direction of my life. I look back on it as a good move. And as exactly what you say it can be devastating. It can be going downhill. It can be going so many different directions as we see the revelation of how unaware we are. And that was a big one for me.
Robert Strock: (07:01)
Yeah. And what Dave is sharing may sound like it’s Dave story. But when we really look at not only the beginning stages of our lives, but our current stage of life, any fight that we have, any struggle we have with someone we love, we’re sure it’s them on an ongoing basis.
Robert Strock: (07:24)
There’s no chances, 95% of our unconscious it’s their unconscious. And so it’s so important that as you listened to this, that you really apply it to yourself and realize how here and now valuable it is to win. Maybe even wake up in the morning and have a thought that, Oh, I’m 95% unconscious, and that allows the possibility of dropping into a humility, which I wish I had more of. And just saying it out loud, allows me to touch a bit more of my heart and feel a little bit more connected frankly, to everybody. Because when you recognize that that’s the state of affairs, it’s a little easier to understand why things are so chaotic and why it’s so vital that we start from that humility and open our eyes, not only to ourselves, but to the other people around us, that as one teacher said earlier in my life, you need to allow a person their unconscious.
Robert Strock: (08:40)
You know, you need to remember when they’re speaking to you badly, they’re pretty likely to be unaware of it and even worse. They’re pretty likely to believe you’re the one that caused it. So it’s very, very beneficial to be aware of our unawareness in this way in a very, very practical way. And unfortunately it probably is happening for most people at least every hour. And if we have a little flicker that says, oh there’s a possibility, maybe even I can’t see it, that I might be unaware. It just softens things.
David Knapp: (09:21)
And as you say that I’m asking myself, because I do believe for me, it’s more than once an hour. It’s a constant looking, but how do I tell? I mean, by definition, if it’s unconscious, I’m not seeing it. So what, what means, uh, do I recognize that it’s about me?
Robert Strock: (09:50)
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think the key is what we’re really trying to emphasize here, which is can we be awake enough reminding ourselves enough and following our understanding to assume that it’s a possibility that it’s our unconscious, even though we’re sure it’s not. No this is the time we’re sure it was all you, it wasn’t something that happened before or something that happened while I was reacting. So it helps not only human relationships, it helps our perspective of the world, but we have to have that assumption that it could be my unconscious that’s causing this fight, in some significant way. And as you’re saying, Dave, I won’t be aware of it. Even after I say that to myself, there has to be that assumption that it’s an ingredient. That’s part of being a human being.
Shelley Pearce: (10:55)
Robert so that’s what’s in relationship. But what about individually? You’re, you’re alone throughout your day. You’re not in conflict in any way. How do you actually discern what is conscious and unconscious?
Robert Strock: (11:12)
Well, I smile when you say you’re not in conflict in any way, because that’s sort of the whole point. You think you’re not in conflict in any way, but you assume, you know what, I might be in conflict a hell of a lot more than I think I am. As a matter of fact, the odds are overwhelming than I am. We’re not focusing on our death. We’re not focusing on health issues. We’re not focusing on our heartbreaks that have happened. They kind of get sent back to the unconscious. And if we have that intuitive remembrance, it is so helpful to drop us into that place that can connect more easily with others. And in your case with what you’re asking, it can maybe allow a greater exhale to say, okay, unconscious, I know you’re here, I’m open. Do you have anything you want to tell me? And that might allow a little bit more to come in.
Shelley Pearce: (12:11)
I love that.
David Knapp: (12:13)
And I’d like to add to that, almost two, three times a day. I’m surprised by the response I get. I’m walking in a room, I’m thinking my vibe is good. And I’m, you know, I’m asking a question or I’m taken in a different way than I believe I’m intending, as something’s going on. Or, I turn on the, well, God forbid these days, but I turn on the news sometimes. And you know, that creates a lot of response in me right now. What’s going on. And that lot going on, leads me to what is, you know, where are those responses coming from? Or at least lead me to the exploration, not necessarily the answers that’s for sure.
Robert Strock: (13:12)
Yeah, so again, it’s just so out of our ordinary awareness that we would think, ah, there’s a possibility that these reactions that are coming toward me might because I was maybe a little bit tighter than I thought I was, or maybe I jab somebody or maybe I was even in my words, reflecting my unconscious by saying something, it was a little bit more critical than the person heard. So it’s a peacemaker to actually carry this assumption with us all day long, not firmly that we’re unconscious, but there’s a pretty good chance.
David Knapp: (13:56)
And then it’s about, okay, that was a surprise. That didn’t feel quite right. But how do I feel about being surprised as you said before it’s yeah, it must be the other person. Right? So the transition of saying, okay, it’s out there to … at least asking myself, am I a part of this is a huge deal.
Robert Strock: (14:21)
Yeah. And of course, even after we ask ourselves, we then say, no, no, it wasn’t me. The question is: is there a third level, kind of like a chess board? It’s like, we can take this out several levels. Well, now I’ll double-check myself and it’s still not me now. It’s still clear. I validated it now, it’s her, it’s him. So it’s maintaining that lighter quality or less focused on blame quality that allows for another level of relationship to self and relationship to other.
David Knapp: (15:01)
And the word you used before, humility.
Robert Strock: (15:04)
As we’re talking about this, and you’re listening to this, see how you’re taking it in. Is this good news or bad news? Is this leading you to, oh that explains a lot of these difficult conversations that maybe I’m a part of. And maybe it’s not Mr. or Mrs. Anderson’s relating to Mr. and Mrs. guilty. Maybe it’s an element in some subtle way that I can’t see and see whether you’re taking this in as an inspiration to continue to wake up or a criticism like, Oh, I’m much more unaware than I think I am. What a bummer. And the intention of pointing out the awareness of around awareness is to bring it into the inspirational realm and to be motivational, to become more and more sensitive and still not completely trust ourselves, that state of basic trust with not having it move into arrogance of which I can’t say I’m there yet in a reliable way. Uh, but I certainly am aspiring to keep refining the edges of that. Now, if you ask people around me, they would say, oh, he’s got a lot of work still to do, but that’s the whole point. We all have a lot of work still to do.
Robert Strock: (16:47)
So if you look at your life now and you look at the categories of your life, let yourself Intuit, uh, what areas might you suspect that you might be more unaware of like love relationship or friendship or family areas you’ve been wounded and then reacted, where you’re afraid and you’re reacting. There are so many, I don’t know whether to say good or bad choices.
David Knapp: (17:29)
I reflect on is I hear that what relationships that once were seemingly close are no longer in my life. And why. And what was the dynamic? What element of that relationship had us move apart? Do my friendships today reflect the same type of friendships I used to have and especially today, especially here and now, as we exist in our world today, there’s so much going on and the differences are so stark that some of that is very obvious and some of the response to it goes very deep and powerful feelings come up. Especially I hate to mention this word here, politics. Yeah. It’s, it’s a really hard thing to reconcile and not go just flat out off black and white and say, I have to eliminate this person from my life period, period.
Robert Strock: (18:35)
Yeah, the subtle thing, which there’s no way we can sort out this in a podcast, but each of us needs to do some self-reflection and some inquiring, do I believe I have a strong tendency to do this? Or might I be the type of person that’s always taking responsibility for everything and blaming myself for everything. And so if we don’t have a perspective of that it’s going to be very, very hard. And actually being aware of our unawareness could be singing their tune. You know, it could be validating someone that’s excessively self-critical. So it’s very important that we have a perspective of whether we’re more on the, and of at being an enabler or being narcissistic, because it’s a very different conclusion depending on which end of the spectrum we’re on. So we’re trying to set a formula.
Shelley Pearce: (19:48)
Robert, I was thinking, as you were speaking, uh, as it relates to narcissism and enabling to be able to discern, you know, how to notice the narcissism within ourselves clearly and in the enabling.
Robert Strock: (20:05)
Yeah. I mean, it’s a great question. Uh, the difficulty is an enabler very rarely recognizes they’re an enabler and a narcissist fairly rarely recognizes there are narcissists. So it’s more for people either that are deeply working on themselves or for us just to notice, as we look around that this is not a one size fits all that a narcissist is going to be way on the end of not doubting themselves, of being unconscious. And an enabler is going to be very much if anything feeling like, well, maybe, maybe I did something wrong. So in a sense, they’re doubting themselves, but in a different way, they’re in some doubt that maybe I’m not doing a good enough job helping you with your addiction or helping you with your issues. So the key point is that this awareness of unawareness is invaluable, but everyone who’s hearing this needs to realize that how does this apply to me?
Robert Strock: (21:18)
And the way it applies to you and everyone is we all are still that ninety-five percent unconscious plus or minus. And adding that to our life is like taking a free medication, like a free value or something that will just relax us and certainly allow a degree of recognizing that we’re in the same boat and that we’re all human beings and vulnerable to being more confident about ourselves than is really valid. Now, the question is, as you hear this, does it lead you to experience more motivation to wake up and to really use this or that we have the potential to really be phenomenally interested in? I wonder in what ways I might be unaware and that’s such an invitation to sensitivity and to all the qualities that we would find inside ourselves and outside of ourselves that would allow for greater fulfillment.
David Knapp: (22:36)
As you said, that the phrase and yeah, giving up when you’re 95, five feeling, I’m unconscious, what’s the point. But are you saying ignorance is bliss? Is that the point?
Robert Strock: (22:56)
Not at all? Ignorance is the key to living a life with no growth and a life that is just following perhaps the rules that we see in our life. But we’re not really inquiring as to who am I, how do I sound? What’s my tone of voice. Like, how do I relate to people? How do I think, and how can I do all these things in a way that would be more from a place of my heart or sensitivity or potential.
David Knapp: (23:38)
So if it’s true, that ignorance is not bliss. Uh, and my own experience tells that suffering happens, suffering is, um, through stress, loss, just life experiences bring disappointment in the things that go with it. Um, so if the opposite of ignorance is bliss is an element of suffering, could suffering, direct us to become more aware. Is that part of the equation here?
Robert Strock: (24:16)
I think the awareness of suffering is part of the equation here because so many people are suffering that are not aware of that, or oftentimes have a private awareness of the suffering and without the awareness of the suffering, it just festers in the unconscious. So yes.
David Knapp: (24:35)
And in life I’m going back to my recollections of our, our time in our twenties and the feeling that it just, it just felt like life was perfect. It felt like there was no, there were no bumps in the road.
Robert Strock: (24:55)
Yeah. Yeah. I was just going to actually go into that kind of a free associative flashback from early years of how the awareness of unawareness increased through the years. And there really was a grandiosity in the early twenties. Things seemed so easy. I was happy. It was much easier to just say I’m doing good.
Robert Strock: (25:23)
And I really wasn’t BS unconsciously. Yeah I was doing a lot of things that I was really happy that I was doing. And I thought I was a better communicator than I was. And I was even holding the subtle belief that communication was the most important thing in the world. Yeah. Having an open heart didn’t necessarily equal it or having a certain kind of faith didn’t equal it. And so there was a subtle judgment with people that couldn’t communicate that I was carrying, that I was unaware of. And then I started to look at tone of voice more subtly and became aware that I was a little leaky as being a annoyed or impatient, clipped more than I thought. And then as I’ve come to the more recent years, I realize, oh, I guess my unconscious beliefs, I’m an expert now.
Robert Strock: (26:24)
So I have a little bit of an expert subconscious that sleeps in there. I would say now and then, but maybe most of the time, and I say it with a smile, hopefully that’s not true. And so the important thing is that you look at you, we’re not really talking about ourselves, to talk about ourselves. We’re talking about ourselves to lead, to reflection of where is this true for me and how can this impact my life to be much more aware of my own unawareness and how could that create benefit for those that I love, myself and maybe even venture out beyond those that I love.
Robert Strock: (27:19)
One of the keys that has really been helpful is, and again, you can use your own words, but asking for the unknown to keep speaking to you. So that means, okay, unconscious, do you see anything that I haven’t seen today? Were there any interactions where I was a bit tighter, a bit more withdrawn, a bit more insecure. And by doing that, you’re developing a deeper relationship with your whole self and you’re inviting the parts of you that you can’t see to speak. And even when you come back with nothing, the very question is developing a deeper relationship to yourself where a humility, or at least at the very worst case, a lesson that arrogance is deepening. That’s a really beautiful question to ask yourself again, asking for the unknown to keep speaking to you.
Robert Strock: (28:40)
So I’d like to end this particular section of being aware of our unawareness by asking you to ask what is it at this stage of my life that I intuitively feel that I’m most unaware of, and I’m going to interrupt the prior way. I expressed it to say it might be with your loved one. And hopefully this leads to a positive expectancy, not like, oh, I did this, but more like, wow, I can see this and I can actually do a little bit better tomorrow, or it might even be that I can say, I’m sorry. I can see now what I did yesterday, which is an amazing intimacy bond, or it may be an ongoing place where you’re agitated about your situation with, or a particular conflict with a friend or a family member. And what is it that I can really focus on? What is it? You can really focus on that by giving it attention and caring, curiosity and interest, might have the best chance of improving the quality of my life. So hopefully this hits you in a sweet spot and I don’t mean hits you like “hits you.” I mean, touches you in a sweet spot where it leads you to want to look at this place and add it as a tool to your life. And thank you for your attention.
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