Host Robert Strock and guest David Knapp discuss the process of finding the essential self, the wise part of ourselves with the ability to use an understanding, compassionate inner voice. With this voice, we can identify self-rejection and see it as an emotion and not a real part of our identity. We need to be careful not to succumb to premature transcending, where we think we’re beyond our challenging feelings when we’ve really let them sink deeper into our subconscious. We want to develop gradual dis-identification with our challenging emotion(s) and work toward developing the intention to heal. At that point, we can begin to disempower self-rejection. We can develop the ability to see and tell ourselves what we’re doing to overcome the targets of our criticism. Over time, we can dis-identify with these challenging feelings and use our inner voice to encourage ourselves, even as we see our shortcomings. Eventually, this ability to identify and alter our inner voice lets us develop a positive tone that opens our hearts for greater kindness toward ourselves, others, and society.
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Awareness That Heals, Episode 25.
Robert Strock: (00:05)
One of the things to understand is the easiest way not to be confused is to be superficial, and the deeper we get, the more we’re going to encounter confusion.
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: (00:59)
Thank you again for joining us at Awareness That Heals and giving our best efforts to bring heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. So each of these episodes is designed to touch different points. And really the points that matter are only the points that touch you that will give you more keys to be able to identify the challenging emotions, and then to be able to pivot from there, to see the self-rejecting emotions or the self-rejection of withdrawing from your heart, relative to how you feel as we saw on the last episode, sometimes it goes the other way around. Sometimes we’ll discover the self-rejecting emotion first and then see a different challenging emotion at the beginning.
Robert Strock: (02:00)
This is clearly the key that none of us have really been taught from our childhood, how we can identify our challenging emotions, how we can see the subtle ways by asking the question, do we like our challenging emotions? We can highlight the fact that the fact that we don’t like the challenging emotions is a form of self-rejection that will reliably lead us to emotions that are rejecting us. And that by seeing this, we can open the door toward asking ourselves, how can we move towards self-acceptance towards self-compassion and towards well-being. So, I’d like to start by introducing Dave, my very dear friend for 50 years and co-president of the Global Bridge Foundation.
David Knapp: (03:02)
Robert, great to be here and looking forward to continuing this discussion.
Robert Strock: (03:09)
So one of the highlights I’d like to start with, and it reflects back to the first series of episodes on this podcast is that most of us function from what I defined as being the third level of awareness. And that third level of awareness is a stable intellectual awareness where we understand something and our heart isn’t necessarily engaged or moved or motivated to join this awareness. So it’s really a mental brain awareness, but because it doesn’t have the deep movement of the heart and the intention to heal, it isn’t particularly useful. So, so as you listen to this, please ask yourself, are you listening from this stable intellectual awareness or are you actually moved in your heart to apply this, to want to identify your challenging emotions, to want to identify your self-rejection and see if your moved, see if there’s something stirring, seeing if you’re really attentive to those 1, 2, 3, or 4 challenging emotions that are the repeaters in your life.
Robert Strock: (04:45)
And whether you’re looking for some tips as to how to move from that awareness, or into that awareness, from that awareness, to the question that is asking whether you like it, to the self-rejecting and then leading you to questions that will help you find self-acceptance, self-trust, self-compassion. So take a moment just to see if you really feel like you’re in that gear where it’s self-application, where it’s self-motivation, or whether you are in a state where you’re just in your mind-understanding. And if you are in your mind, just understanding, notice whether this leads you to criticism of yourself. Oh yeah. I’m just in my mind criticizing, criticizing myself, I’m a failure. See if you can catch that or on the other hand, if you’re in your mind and you see that, are you disassociating and not noticing the importance of just being in your mind? So let this be a way of practicing as you witness where you are, how you’re taking this in. So going through the steps again, each time, a little bit different, starting off with an awareness of your challenging feelings.
Robert Strock: (06:21)
And let’s just say, it’s insecurity that you’re not good enough as a parent, or really it could be anything but that you’re insecure maybe in your relationship, that would be the first step. And the second step would be if you’re aware of feelings or judgments that are rejecting you or withdrawing your love or changing the subject. Now, when I say withdrawing your love that might be a little confusing because you may not be aware of much love at any time, but we’re talking about maybe many loves, like feeling decent about yourself or feeling good about yourself or being supportive of yourself. That’s this second self-rejection state.
Robert Strock: (07:20)
And then the third pivotal one, which I’m really asking you to interject this as to part of your daily life, is when you’re aware of a challenging emotion or a self-rejection in whatever form it occurs. Asking yourself the question, do I tolerate, do I accept? Do I care for, do I like myself? When I’m in this emotional state? Now the moment you ask this, what seems to be an obvious question? It’ll be pretty evident that you or almost no one really accepts when they feel their worst feelings, whether it was anxiety or terror or jealousy or competition, revenge, punishment, sarcasm. But when you say, do you accept or do you tolerate it? It allows you to have a chance to shift gears as we’ve talked about in prior episodes. And it allows you to move to another step, which is a deep desire to protect and support yourself and a growing conviction that you want to add this protection and deepen your strength and assisted by asking the most precise question you can as to, how can I move toward healing. Now in prior episodes, I’ve called this the intention to heal.
Robert Strock: (09:09)
So this the prior step was asking a question. And then following that was developing the intention to heal through asking a question of how you could move toward it. Realistically, when you identify the challenging feeling or the self-rejection, as we’ve talked about in the last episode, and if you can see that it’s mom or dad or society, this fourth step is developing the ability to have a separate part of you. What we might call your essential self, your wise self, your wisest voice. There’s a lot of names for it, use yours, but whatever it is, it’s the part of you that you revere the most and the part of you that you most want to reinforce. And in that conversation, when you see the challenge or the self-rejection, you want to be able to say, hello? Hello, self-rejection. Hello, challenging emotion. Hello dad.
Robert Strock: (10:22)
Hello mom. Hello society. I am not you, even though I feel you you’re a part of my feelings, but you’re not what I perceive to be my best self, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to identify you as a part of myself because you are, but you’re not the one I want to run my life. So I need to spend quite a bit of time staying in relationship to you, in a dialogue that hopefully is gradually moving more and more toward a friendly dialogue. So, there’s a state of deep identification in seeing it stably and including your intention to heal. And as that identification and conversation goes on it leading to more and more disidentification because this essential you, this kindness, this acceptance, this tolerance, maybe the self-compassion more easily is able to discern, ah, you are mom, you are dad. You’re the one that made me feel or more accurately you’re one, you’re the one that led me to feel in my younger years, this challenging emotion.
Robert Strock: (11:54)
I see you. I know you didn’t do it on purpose at least for most people they didn’t do it on purpose. And I’m going to be in dialogue with you, maybe the rest of my life. And paradoxically, the more I can identify with you and identify you and identify me the more I can disidentify. There’s a phrase that I use oftentimes called “premature transcendence,” which is transcending the identification too soon to where you think you’re beyond it, but it’s still there. You just simply push it deeper in your subconscious. So we want to be careful. We don’t short circuit the identification before we move to the descent, the gradual disidentification and the intention to heal. And this disidentification will show up. Not only in the mind talking to our challenges or our self-rejections, it will be in our actions.
Robert Strock: (12:58)
It will be in our attitudes as well as our thoughts. And the key thing is practice, practice, practice being in the understanding, being in the understanding, being in the understanding is almost worthless. Staying with your own experience, staying with the ways that your challenged and practicing it and respecting it and recognizing that it’s a birthing place, that it’s a place where you can grow. It’s the key to not staying with fool’s gold and finding real gold, but we need to keep checking in. All of us have challenges, and frankly, all of us suppress our challenges to some extent. And so this is never going to be an outdated question. We’re not going to arrive. We’re going to need to do this for the rest of our lives. And so it’s worthwhile to look and see, do you feel like you’re into it a little bit?
Robert Strock: (14:07)
Halfhearted? Are you debating? Are you not even debating? You’re just understanding and whatever it is, just be honest, just see where you are. Maybe you’re waiting to see whether something really kicks you in or knocks you in, but maybe you’re not there yet. Or maybe you’re really there, but you realize that that means it’s a lifetime of work. That’s what my hope is. So we’re going to explore next steps to disempower rational self-rejection now, what do I mean by rational self-rejection? That means you’re criticizing yourself for something that really makes sense. Maybe you really are not a good father. Maybe you are really not a good husband or wife. Maybe you really are not good at taking care of your practical life.
Robert Strock: (15:10)
And the self-rejection is not something that I’m calling the emotion itself to be rational, but the emotion is pointing towards something that is a change you need to make in order to be your best self. And as we’ve talked about before your best realistic self. So it’s very important that we see that sometimes self-rejection is a pointer that we need to listen to the message and learn how to counter the emotional reaction or the withdrawal. So the first key is we need to admit our challenges like with everything else, because if we don’t admit our challenges, we’ll never find a rational self-rejection.
Robert Strock: (16:10)
And then we need to ask ourselves the question, second step, is this self-rejection rational or not. And again, we’re not saying is the feeling rational, we’re saying is the message rational. So we don’t want to lose wisdom by throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We don’t want to, we don’t want to lose the insight of the perception and the astuteness of it even could be part of our wisdom mixed in with the emotion. So we might see feelings of various kinds of disapproval rejection discussed aversion contraction, all rooted and not liking the way we are reacting in life or the way we’re not responding in life. That’s a very important state of awareness.
Robert Strock: (17:14)
That’s the third step. The fourth step is recognizing that because we don’t like it, it means we see something else that we do like, and we need to then ask, are we ready to commit ourselves to our best efforts with really looking at the detail and ready to develop more and more perseverance? Because this whole process of moving from self-rejection toward self-compassion is not a free lunch. The only way we get to be self-compassionate is if we’re interested in being our best self, otherwise we’re putting frosting on garbage. If we say, I want to be nice to myself, even though I’m an asshole, that’s not what the point is. The point is being self-compassionate, but also being our best self. Very, very important part of this. So while we’re talking about self-compassion, what’s also needed is we’re making our own best realistic efforts.
Robert Strock: (18:33)
Now, if we get to that place where we’re now moving, we’re, we’re, we have our intention to heal. We’ve seen the, the message that is accurate in our self-rejection. We’re able to say to the self-rejection, Hey, self-rejection I hear you could take a look, I’m making these changes now. So I’m going to start to disidentify with you and disempower you because now you’re in my old conditioning, reacting to my old reactions. And so you no longer are going to have the same empowerment that I’ve given you before with some justification. And instead the fifth step is that we’re giving ourselves more and more substantial statements of encouragement and further inquiries to see the awareness of our shortcomings and seeing this awareness itself as being a strength. And we want to heighten this awareness because it’s so encouraging that we have the courage and the humility to see our shortcomings and to admit them, and then to respond to them with our best efforts. And at the beginning, it will be some of our best efforts, but that movement is a humongous pivot.
David Knapp: (20:03)
I just want to speak out for one of the patterns which I happen to have. I’m sure there’s many different kinds of being that a personality, being that perfectionist and being in a situation where as I walked through these steps with you, I’m saying, you know, is it irrational? Is it really? Can’t I really be better? Cause I’m really not aware most of the time when I’m in that state, that I’m perfectionistic. I think realistically I should be able to do better. But then in retrospect, sometimes, hopefully soon, I see no, no, couldn’t do the best I could, but it’s, it’s sometimes pretty hard to tell the difference of that rational and irrational.
Robert Strock: (20:57)
You’re directly talking about one of the things we’ll talk about later, but now we’ll talk about it now, too, which is the depth of respect that confusion deserves that when you are sincerely not sure whether we’re making our best efforts, that’s a great state of awareness. And it beacons us to ask the question with, hopefully at least a neutrality, if not a respect that am I really making my best efforts. And let’s say there’s a deafening silence and you’re totally unclear or completely contradictory, two sides of a court case that is really deserving of reverence. What we want to do though, is to be sure or more accurately to do the best we can to ask that question with a recognition that it can be the very best side of us. It’s asking that question. We’re really sincere and really tap into the sincerity of that question. And if we’re being judgmental, am I really making my, or, or sarcastic? Am I really making my best efforts or even somewhere in between? I’m not so sure I’m making my best efforts. That’s self-rejection.
Robert Strock: (22:36)
So it’s very important that as we ask ourselves that question, that we revere it as one of our greatest allies, which is sincere confusion, because one of the things to understand is the easiest way not to be confused is to be superficial and the deeper we get, the more we’re going to encounter confusion. If we’re happy with just shopping and, and dancing around, and we’re not asking ourselves any question, we’re never going to be confused. I’m not wasting myself with needless confusion, but if we care about our heart, if we care about the world, if we care about our country, care about our kids, what’s the best way to deal with sleeping with our kids. I don’t know. This expert says this, this expert says that, not sure, you know, what’s the best food to eat. This expert says this, this expert says that, which is the best doctor to go to. You know, this person who I respect says this, and this person says that, which treatment should I take? That’s all really deserving of reverence or to go to one of my favorites. What’s the truth about life and death? I’m confused. I don’t know. I have my beliefs. I have faith, but I don’t know when my faith doesn’t cover my not knowing. I’m confused and that confusion has a lot of respect. And as I’ve gotten older and older, that confusion has more and more respect.
David Knapp: (24:27)
I also think you just handed into this conversation, put into this conversation, another important clue, which is the way we communicate with ourselves, as we’re making whatever it is our evaluation is of our confusion, of our uncertainty.
Robert Strock: (24:45)
There’s no doubt that our inner tone, our attitude toward ourselves, which is all too often, either unconscious or even when it’s conscious, we don’t care that much. And we don’t recognize that our inner tone is a vast part of our quality of life. If our inner tone is negative we’re experiencing negativity. If our inner tone is caring or has reverence or sincerity, then our quality of life gets to be that it’s not a, we should have a good tone of voice. It’s more like we might get to if we’re awake and if we care for ourselves. And so it’s such a pivotal part of everything we’re talking about because we can sabotage and reject ourselves. And we do with our inner tone and it’s every bit as important as our outer town. So it might be fitting to wind down without asking ourselves the question of what is the tone that we most use inside ourselves. That is the one that we’ve loved the most.
Robert Strock: (26:15)
And the one that we see is most self-rejected. And when we can see the most self-rejecting tone, we can see whether that falls with other self-rejection and we could go on and on, or can we go, oh, good, I can see I’m rejecting myself for a tone of voice. I don’t want to reject myself. And what’s the tone that I aspire toward. That would be more, self-accepting, more self-compassionate because that’s the meat of self-acceptance is the tone itself. And so it’s not much different than a, than a prayer. What’s the quality of the prayer? Is it a complaint? Is it self-centered or are we sincerely asking for something that’s beneficial for everyone involved? So that inner tone, whether it’s a tone regarding daily life or whether it’s a tone regarding our more essential life in our spiritual beliefs, that tone will be such an important part of our quality of life that hopefully that touches a place as you even hear it, that inspires you to want to be kinder, to want to be more self-compassionate and carry the knowing that you can’t get there without being your best self or making your best efforts to be your best self as well. And that partnership is really the antidote, one by one, to deal with each self-rejection. That is the essence of self-caring, self-compassion is both having words that guide you, actions that guide you, but also an inner tone.
Robert Strock: (28:37)
So I wish that for all of us, both the best efforts and the inner tone, because the quality of life will invariably lead us to reach out more to the world as well at a time that when we resolve the inner self-rejections, it will automatically transform to wanting to care about a larger group of people, a larger part of life. And I believe it’s the aspiration that we as humans have the deepest part of our being. So thank you for bringing that up, Dave. I wish that for all of us.
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