Facing Truths in Our Lives Through Awareness and Inquiry – Episode 29

Facing Truths in Our Lives through Inquiry and Awareness - Episode 29Host Robert Strock teaches about learning to face the truths in our lives. Self-inquiry can teach us to see, prioritize, and let go of patterns that aren’t beneficial to our personal progress. The process of building awareness of our thought and behavioral patterns can help us steer our rudder in the right direction, rather than beating ourselves up or withdrawing because of our perceived weaknesses and mistakes. Regularly questioning ourselves in a caring way guides our course, helps resolve broken relationships, and builds a more fulfilling, and wholesome heart.


Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Robert’s Book, Awareness that Heals
Free Downloadable Introspective Guides

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Announcer: (00:00)
Awareness That Heals, Episode 29.

Robert Strock: (00:04)
You’ll see that there’s habits that you want to prioritize, letting go of those patterns as much as possible. And that’s going to open up time and space for you to develop friendly mind, for you to develop inquiry, for you to develop wisdom guidance.

Announcer: (00:27)
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: (01:08)
Warm, welcomed to visiting us again and Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges. And for those of you that are not just jumping into this episode, we’re going to continue to deepen how we can envision having wisdom proceeded by friendly mind and inquiry be even more central to us than our feelings, which is particularly challenging. Obviously when we have difficult emotions or difficult situations that we’re facing, but definitely not impossible. Now, when I say that, take a look, is that true for you? Can you envision it? I’m not saying, can you do it, but can you actually envision, this could be realistic for me. I’m someone that rather than rebelling or conforming, I’m someone that thinks enough for myself that I could envision getting to a place where my wisdom could guide me, fair amount of time. Not let’s not get too grandiose, but at least that we can see that a big part of life is learning how to teach yourself.

Robert Strock: (02:40)
You know, is kind of like the saying of we’re not giving fish, but we’re teaching how to fish. So, we’re teaching how to access your own wisdom, which again, as we’ve covered in other episodes requires us to be aware, requires us to be honest, requires us to really go for it. When we see the truth and not have it be at the expense of anyone else. And that doesn’t mean sometimes we might not hurt someone because it’s unavoidable. It just means we’re not going to unnecessarily ever hurt someone if we’re following our wisdom. So, it’s important that you do a reality check to see whether or not you’re kind of dealing with more being faithless, it’s like, nah, I can’t really do that cause I’m not together enough, I get confused with this or that. And if that is you, I would highly encourage you to listen again.

Robert Strock: (03:42)
And even if it isn’t you, I would highly encourage you to listen again, because this is something that has taken 50 years to develop and it hasn’t fully developed. So, if it’s something that is a decades practice and as we’ve discussed the beauty of wisdom-guidance is you can do it while you’re listening to this podcast. You can do it while you’re on the toilet. You can do it while you’re in your garden. You can do it when you’re just walking. So, if you’re capable of chewing gum and doing something else at the same time in the background, you can be asking yourself questions like, like there is, with the inquiry from the heart, how do I best take care of myself here? That’s something you can do it anywhere, anytime as a beginning. But of course you have to really listen and then really hear, and maybe ask another question and really hear it and then contemplate and then respond. So, I’d like to introduce Dave, who’s my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and my closest friend, dear friend for 50 years.

Dave: (04:54)
Thank you, Robert. It’s amazing to be here, uh, for these truly essential and, and deep, uh, aspects of how we can really work with our challenges.

Robert Strock: (05:09)
Thanks Dave. So, when you really are in your day, as you envision it today, tomorrow next week, what is the most challenging situation you’re facing? What is the most challenging emotion you’re facing and in the background right now, not only try to identify it, but do your best to see if there’s a question that you want to ask yourself, there’s going to be a question for you. It’s for your benefit for your well-being and for the benefit of others, if others are included. And give yourself a reminder that this is what you’re going to do when it comes up this week, see if you can’t, it’s like put an insert that, yeah, I know I’m going to be facing this this week or right now. And when I’m done listening to this, or later in the week, I really am going to ask myself the series of questions.

Robert Strock: (06:21)
Or if you’re farther along, you’ve already asked the questions and you know what your wisdom is, maybe your wisdom was telling you, you’re confused. You’re going to enter into the confusion. Or if, you know, you need to take a leap, you’re going to take that leap. And if you’re not going to take that leap, then you’re going to say, gee, you’re not, I’m not taking that leap what’s going on. And that is what you’re telling yourself real. So sometimes we ask ourselves repeatedly questions that really are veiled judgements and lead us down a rabbit hole. Like, what’s your problem? Why are you still doing that? I can’t believe after all these years. And sometimes we need to see in these veiled judgments, like sometimes we might say something like, why are you still acting like an asshole to that person? And that gets complicated because we need to see two things at once.

Robert Strock: (07:20)
One is that we’re against ourselves and we need to, and want to shift it to be for ourselves. But occasionally we’re going to see some truth. Even with the veil judgments, the judgments might also be perceptions of truth. So maybe we have been an asshole to somebody for a long time. And so, if in these veiled questions, we see a truth, we want to have our attitude before us and we want our actions to be open, to be corrected. So, this is not a process that is just about self-validation. This is a process. It’s about the truth facing the truth and doing our best to respond to it in a way that’s going to optimize well-being and not create harm to others. It’s important when we ask these questions that we don’t ask them in an abstract way that we don’t ask them in a way that’s like, well, what’s the meaning of life, or how am I going to be happy, where it’s so general and so broad that it doesn’t really allow us to tune into something that we can work with today, tomorrow this week, this month.

Robert Strock: (08:46)
So, we want the questions to be ones that apply to the present or the near future. And very like, if you have to decide what college you’re going to go to in several months, you might need to think about it now, but generally speaking, it’s present or near future questions. What are my next thoughts? What am I next actions? What are my next attitudes? What are my next tones of voice? Those are the kinds of present or near future comments. What are my actual thoughts? That’s the inner tone that I’m using. Those, those questions are gold. Those questions are going to allow you to support yourself. If you follow through with them. Questions is a part, is the crucial beginning. Sometimes the beginning is friendly mind where you’re, you’re saying to yourself, I want to be supportive of myself, which will lead you to the questions. And then the questions will lead you maybe to other questions or to confusion. And then you track it down and then you have your guidance of your wisdom, and then you need to implement your wisdom. So sometimes you’ll find when you asked the question of what’s the priority, what really matters this week. And it might be that you see, I’ve been doing this for two years, read the newspaper for two hours, playing video games for four hours, criticizing myself for three hours.

Robert Strock: (10:29)
You’ll see that there’s habits that you want to prioritize, letting go of those patterns as much as possible. And that’s going to open up time and space for you to develop friendly mind for you to develop inquiry for you to develop wisdom guidance. And so can you see, as we’re talking about it, is there anything in your life that you might be compulsive, you might be critical, you might be too cautious all the time. You might believe your anxiety. You might believe that you are the one that’s depressed and that you aren’t chemically depressed or situationally or traumatically depressed. And the one that can respond to it. But you can see that you can open up time by not staying fixated in thoughts, emotions, or situations, and you can actually guide yourself into another gear. And really what you’re doing is you’re pivoting away from circular thinking and doing that actually takes you nowhere.

Robert Strock: (11:51)
You end up back in the same place. One of my favorite expressions from my mother was she’d meet somebody and she’d find them boring. And she’d say, well, might as well just send a video and mail in your life because there’s no reason living it. Now, granted, that was a little harsh, a little judgemental, but I liked the insight that if somebody really is spending their life with suffering and not recognizing they have the potential to be a healing influence and notice, I didn’t say heal it because we’re talking about moving in a direction with all of this. We’re not talking about eliminating most existential feelings of situations. Some of them we can, but some of them are going to be lifelong. So, we want to make an impact, move in a direction.

Dave: (12:55)
I just want to reflect one thing and ask you a question. Because as a person and I discussed this in a prior episode that has spent many, many years, decades, even, uh, working so many hours, uh, just really doing things that were for me, not suffering. But yet at the same time, looking back and eventually recognizing that those things and the amount of compulsion, if you will, that I used in sticking to them, uh, brought me away from a lot of important things inside myself. So, it’s, wasn’t a suffering and yet it was an avoidance of really a deeper relationship with myself.

Robert Strock: (13:45)
Well, that’s particularly a great question because it opens the whole door into looking more closely at things we don’t experience as suffering, but actually is something that is maybe limiting our potential to be half of who we could be metaphorically, or half as fulfilled as we could be. It’s robbing ourselves of something. We may think it’s a gift. We may even think it’s a gifted quality and I’m guessing or more than guessing that much of what you, what you’ve done in the past is compulsive for sure that you’re proud of in the moment that I got things done and I’m really organized and I’m really taking care of so many people and it’s, and it’s, it’s an amazing capacity. And I will be the first one to say, I’ve been the beneficiary of a lot of your compulsiveness because you’ve taken care of a lot of stuff that I’m not very good at. So it can be a good quality . . .

Dave: (14:50)
. . . That’s going to stop today.

Robert Strock: (14:55)
Okay. Does that mean I have permission to call it out every time I see it?

Dave: (15:00)
You won’t be seeing it.

Robert Strock: (15:01)
Yeah. Okay. I’m very happy. So yes, we can think something is really like Dave mentioned earlier as well about taking care of others. That, that can seem like the best thing in the world. I mean, what’s better than taking care of others. Well, that is equal to the best thing, as long as you’re taking care of yourself too, but we can many times have a quality that we, if we look deeper, think afterwards that actually that’s not serving me, while during we’re thinking it’s fantastic. So, it makes things confusing. So that again is a validation of confusion. If you do a scan right now in your life, all of us, we all do a scan. What’s the qualities, what’s the actions? What are the thoughts that I think are benefiting me? I delude myself, I think are really helping me that when I look at it, you know what? I could move it up a notch maybe instead of being so thorough, I could delegate that and I could have two hours to do anything I want in life, a day, or maybe I can see that. I think it’s really smart for me to be critical with myself because it motivates me.

Robert Strock: (16:40)
And maybe I could see, you know what I was hurting myself. And maybe I can guide myself with inspiration, with encouragement, rather than criticism. Or maybe I can see that I’ve made my hobbies 50% of my life and I’m suffering with paying the bills, or maybe I can see, I’ve always wanted to experiment with this one or two things in my life and life is moving on, now is the time. And I’ve been telling myself, no, every single thing I’m doing is important. But actually, I see that there’s one or two dreams in my life, fantasies in my life that I feel like would be my goals in life. So, the best way to deal with that is to identify the top 3, 5, 7, very highest quality things that you can do, ways you can be and really identify on their own. And then you look at the rest of your life and you say, is that my top seven?

Robert Strock: (17:57)
Now you have to make sure that you can survive. Like, for example, you can say, these are all the things I want to do, but if I did them, I couldn’t pay the bills. No, you can’t do that. So, you’ve got to include survival. I think for everybody, you’ve got to include health. I think for everybody, you’ve got to include not unnecessarily injuring other people, but then I think from there, you could go up to seven more. Yeah. Not maybe the obvious ones, but seven that you really uniquely turn you on. And if you’re confused because you can only get two, then you say, okay, oh good. I get to concentrate on where I could be more inspired, fulfilled. And you may even notice that my life right now is programmed just to be satisfied or to be safe or to be liked. And you see that there’s a fundamental flaw that you’ve given up on love.

Robert Strock: (19:04)
You’ve given up on inspiration. You’ve given up on fulfillment. You’ve given up on joy, wonder, trust. Of course, those are projections. Those are things that I value immensely. And that’s not saying you should be like me. You should want those qualities, but it also doesn’t mean you should make sure you’re not copying me. It’s for you to decide, you know, you are the source of your own wisdom and only you can really know. Yeah, that’s really true for me. And recognizing when you’re even visiting there, it is home. It is a sense of finding the place where you want to live. So, I think that’s what it takes. It requires being very clear what your very, very, very top priorities are and then recognize whether you filled in just because it’s what your conditioning taught you was going to be the best life. Like I frequently mentioned in The Missing Conversation.

Robert Strock: (20:19)
I mentioned it all the time that we’re conditioned in America to want the American Dream and to pursue freedom. Well, from my vantage point, the American Dream is one of the greatest sources of keeping too much wealth in the family and being addicted to wealth for those that have it and not seeing that it’s there to help give opportunities to the poor, to help everyone, to help the planet survive with some percentages, I’m not talking about giving everything away. I’m talking about increasing percentages. But you start to see in your own wisdom I need to think for myself, cause I’m at the time of global warming, I’m at the time of great nuclear danger. I’m the time of corruption, I’m at the time of democracy maybe being lost. And so, we need to say, what are my priorities, are my priority to help some of those things.

Robert Strock: (21:21)
Again, that’s a projection, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true for you too. And it’s important to recognize that the more deeply we inquire, the more we’re going to come up with challenging experience, we’re not going to be sure we’re going to have conflict because our conditioning has moved us in a certain direction. And we don’t want to be hard on ourselves because our conditioning has made us self-centered rather than world-centered. And you may hate me for saying that, like who you are to be proselytizing or whatever else, that’s fine. If that’s your truth, that’s your truth. I’ll agree to disagree. I think it’s important to have a significant percentage of us that’s centered toward others, unless we’re really, really locked into a survival situation, then it’s important that we be centered on ourselves. So how can I be more fulfilled is a really important question to ask every day.

Robert Strock: (22:27)
No, what kind of programs do I want to watch? No, if I get good laughs that might be the best I could possibly hope for. That might be your value. I, I want to laugh. Life is so crazy. I want to laugh. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe I want to find out what’s really happening with COVID or maybe I really want to find out what’s happening with the world and the country. Maybe I don’t give a damn and I just want to turn away and I just want to take care of myself if that’s really your truth, then go for it. Yeah. And again, I will disagree with you, but I’ll fight for your right to live your truth. It’s not about me. And recognizing that it is in a way that we absolutely have not been taught. Great news when we’re aware of being challenged and not saying great news when we’re challenged and saying it’s great news when we’re aware of being challenged, because that awareness gives us a chance to use friendly mind, to use inquiry, to find wisdom-guidance.

Robert Strock: (23:36)
If we’re not aware, we’re doomed, we’re going to just stay in the same pattern. If we stand conscious, you know, until we become conscious, somebody else can help us become conscious. But if we stay unaware, it’s going to just keep operating without, without having any rudder, to be able to steer us in another direction. So, I’d like to end with asking something of each of you, which is what do you truly believe your biggest blind spot is that sabotages your best intentions and aspirations. Are you wanting to please someone too much, something you may have called loyalty that might be co-dependence. Are you, are you caught in being angry and thinking people deserve it because they’re stupid or insensitive or judging the world? When actually you realize judging the world just makes my body feel lousy. Maybe I’d rather try to see if I could either find a way to help or at least try to help those that are trying to help.

Robert Strock: (24:54)
Or at least I recognize I don’t want to spend time there. I’d rather spend time somewhere else. Maybe your blind spot is you’re not taking care of your health or you’re not, you’re not really communicating sensitively with your lover or you have an unresolved relationship with a family member. That’s really, really important that you see regularly or someone that’s dying that you need to have a communication, but whatever it is, it’s yours, your blind spot. And if we can keep asking and starting to enjoy those questions, that puts us paradoxically in a way to become more awake, more fulfilled, more satisfied, more relieved, more complete. And so again, one of my deepest wishes is that we shift the feeling from, oh, what a bummer. I’m so blind there too. I really want to ask myself, what are my blind spots, so that I may be able to be more awake and all the benefits that will come for me and others when I’m more awake.

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