Embrace Your Journey Toward Self-Compassion

Embrace Your Journey Toward Self-Compassion - Episode 116Episode 116
In the two prior episodes, we’ve explored practical tools to help address anxiety. The initial steps helped you become aware of your anxiety and care for it, while the subsequent step has you move into developing tolerance, kindness, and a welcoming attitude toward anxiety itself. While this may seem counterintuitive, the aim is to view anxiety as having the potential to awaken self-compassion. If you can apply this to your life, you will begin to free yourself from being dominated by anxiety and move up one more floor on the elevator metaphor. 

This shift can foster a natural sense of openness and even positivity. As you recognize the anxiety, though real, it is ultimately a natural human feeling. This mindset offers you the best opportunity to achieve your desired quality of life. It’s crucial to listen to your capacity to care for yourself while you are feeling this normal emotion. Imagine supporting kindness towards your anxiety and learning how to respond to what’s around you in the ways that most serve you and your significant others—increasing tolerance and acceptance wherever you are now, even if your capacity to care for yourself happens more slowly than you would like. If you are not ready to welcome the anxiety, at least let it be stored as a seed or aspiration, which itself is a tremendous evolutionary step toward self-compassion. No matter where you are, embrace it and let it guide you toward ever-increasing acceptance and caring.

Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Podcast Episode Video (YouTube)
Robert’s Book, “Awareness that Heals”
The Introspective Guides (Free Download)

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Announcer (00:00):

Awareness That Heals, Episode 116.

Robert Strock (00:04):

A very warm welcome to season three of Awareness That Heals where we have progressed to be able to focus on one challenging emotion at a time. This will allow you to choose a specific emotion that you’ve had challenges with, and each one will have a progressive series of guided meditations that will allow you to go deeper and deeper into self-compassion. For me, it’s truly inspiring because each emotion has unique nuances for both self-care and responding to your environment at the same time. This is subtle and a rare skill as all too often we don’t stay aware of how we can care for ourselves as we are. I hope that you’ll not only find it helpful, but also give you deep resources that you can internalize when the emotion is most emerging.

Announcer (01:05):

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 (01:48):

So as we’re reviewing briefly, what we’ve gone through so far is we realize that we’re using the analogy of an elevator and we’re moving from being completely unaware of our anxiety to developing tools at each floor as we go up in the elevator and we start with recognizing how important, how essential a beginning it is that we are the observer of the anxiety itself and it’s really pristine, it’s precise. I really see the anxiety. It’s not some little side voice. This is central. There’s no shame that’s being acted out when you really get it and that this observer, this witness, wants to care for you and that is just so radical. Just even getting that, is huge.

And the observer realized that of course you want to care for yourself. What do you want to do, crucify yourself because you’re anxious. You know damn well you’re not being anxious on purpose. So of course you want to support yourself, but of course it’s not, of course, we haven’t been taught that this is something very, very crucial for our heart, our well-being, and for those we love and frankly for the greater world as well. And we just need to learn how to do this in the best way possible. Look and see if you can find a gut feeling or your wisdom or of small voice saying, yes, I want to care for myself, or I have an intention to heal or support myself when I’m anxious. And look at how much you organically can go there now or how much you’ve been able to do that in your past and in a certain way, the less you’ve done it in your past, the more inspiring and exciting this is because you truly have a tool, I am the awareness of my anxiety or I can become more and more the awareness of my anxiety.

And of course I can learn that I want to care for myself. And then we move from there to developing increasing tolerance and kindness toward the anxiety itself and that we first need to identify the anxiety and then gradually learn that that’s not the dominant part of who we are. So many of us feel that we are what we feel. We believe, well, how are you doing? I feel so-and-so not, I feel so-and-so, and I’m also looking at it and seeing what my options are as to how I can care for myself. So see the gift if you can apply this in increasing ways, how you’ve freed yourself from being dominated by anxiety and it’s moving you one more floor up the elevator. So allow yourself to get ready from the next guided meditation and put yourself in a comfortable position.

Now that you’ve understood, at least intellectually the elements of being aware of your anxiety and caring for it. See if you can imagine altering your practice from tolerating or accepting anxiety to actually welcoming it. Now, that might sound like a pipe dream, but I’m going to welcome my anxiety. Well, when you see and experience the benefits of tolerating and accepting your anxiety, why wouldn’t you want to make it your friend? Why wouldn’t you want to treat it as a respected part of you that is asking for healing, that’s asking for your support. And when you recognize that by seeing it more and more clearly, of course I want to welcome it. And again, it doesn’t become of course until it becomes practice.

Gigantic changes happen when you are actually welcoming your anxiety and you feel friendly with it. You are welcoming it truly like a friend. Now, again, don’t get ahead of yourself, but even to cognitively understand that I deserve to welcome my feelings. There are almost no feelings that are voluntary, that almost all of our feelings and anxiety certainly is an involuntary impulse. And so the more you can recognize that you want to embrace them from a part of you that can see them, that wants to care, and that it offers this opportunity to expand your quality of life, the more you’re going to want to welcome the anxiety into your life. Let yourself say, I welcome you into my life and it’s a natural openness, even a positivity because you know are being both real, harmless and giving yourself the best chance to have the quality of life that you aspire toward. And just listen. What is your inner tone of voice is crucial because the quality of your inner tone of voice is going to reflect the music inside you, the quality of your life. Let yourself say anxiety, I welcome you into my life as a partner, as a key part of me that I need to stay in relationship with. Always supporting saying this on the inside and many times on the outside when you’re with the right people, of course.

We’re all freer with deepened, welcoming. You, as this develops, appreciate the dedication to be open with the anxiety, not having it be in the basement and be more and more capable of responding to the outside world beyond, at the same time. Just imagine that I’m kinder to the anxiety and I’m learning how to respond to what’s around me as well. If there’s self-criticism, let yourself imagine yourself saying, hello, self-criticism, I the observer. See you and I’m going to do everything I can to eliminate you or at least to deeply reduce you as I want my quality of life to be the best it can and your no help.

Now, again, as I will continue to remind you, don’t get ahead of yourself. If it’s something that’s just a seed in your mind, it’s a great seed. If it’s in your mind, it’s great that it’s in your mind. If it’s starting to enter your heart, it’s phenomenal. But wherever you are, that is the most sacred thing to tolerate and accept wherever you are. And if this is getting ahead of you, interpret it accurately. It just means you need to go back to some of the earlier stages and repeat them over and over again until you really are able to practice this for yourself. Be the gauge of where you are. Are you in awareness? Are you intolerance? Are you inquiring and wondering and not knowing? Are you welcoming? You might not be ready to welcome, but let it be stored inside you as an aspiration. It’s so easy to get ahead of where you are and think because you understand what’s being said. You can implement it. But take a moment and realize, oh, that’s right, we’re talking about when anxiety really is enveloping me. Of course, that’s difficult. It’s hard to even remember, let alone to really practice. But what is more worthy than my quality of life?

Can you see how unfair and injurious it is not to accept yourself where you are, yes, where you are. Bringing awareness tolerance, acceptance, inquiry, asking yourself where you are and welcoming. And most importantly, just being the one that’s going to be aware of where you are in that spectrum. If you’re content with your progress and if the understanding of the floors of the elevator or the steps are clear to you. See if you can appreciate this. Even if it’s clear but not feasible to practice yet, and it’s simply an aspiration at this stage, this itself is a tremendous evolution of self-compassion. Even if you’ll only develop the first floor, one third, it’s still worthy of appreciation. And see if that is something that is realistic for you now. And if it isn’t recognize you need to go back and go to where you are. The feeling of being able to appreciate yourself, the feeling of welcoming is something that for most of us will come much later and isn’t necessary to be of immense support. Each time you look at where you are, look at it with your deepening sensitive attention and recognize if you’re seeing it clearly, this isn’t a downer, this is an evolution. This requires humility and courage, and you deserve to be appreciating yourself, even if you can’t. Even if you intellectually understand that that’s the seed that will grow.

So again, I thank you for your quality attention and may that quality of attention keep growing.

So as we look back at the meditation, the most important thing is to see where this leaves you. If it’s leading you to the hopefulness or the excitement or self-criticism, no matter where it is your awareness, your observer needs to be honest with yourself that I understand it, but I can’t come close to applying it yet. And is that an oh good or is that an oh shit? And you need to develop the capacity to say, if it is a criticism, then you want to observe that and say, okay, I’m working on not criticizing myself. That’s the stage I’m in, but at least I understand what I’m trying to go for. I’m just upset with myself that I can’t get there yet. So no matter where you are, embrace it and let that embrace lead you to a contentment and let yourself aspire more and more self-compassion and quality of life. Thank you very much for your quality attention.

Announcer (15:47):

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