Accepting our emotions with an astute mind can be a key component to being kinder to ourselves. Rather than rejecting our feelings and internally shaming ourselves for having them, we can make an important pivot to welcome them with courage and curiosity. They have something to teach us. Emotions can be muddled and hard to unpack, but within them sits the possibility of accessing our deepest wisdom. This intelligence will lead us to qualities that we can embrace to care for ourselves.
Robert and Dave summarize five steps of moving through life’s challenges and share some of their own stories. Whether you are experiencing pain, anxiety, uncertainty, or a myriad of other uncomfortable feelings Robert teaches us how to greet them at the door of our minds and recognize that they are a valuable part of us. Our mind can be our ally in our intention to heal and care for ourselves.
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Awareness That Heals, Episode 56.
Robert Strock: (00:06)
We’re not talking about quick fixes where we can instantly feel better. That’s the trap. It’s more that we can shift at least our mind and find some wisdom to guide us.
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: (01:02)
A very warm welcome, again to Awareness That Heals where we focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. We start again and again, with being aware of what is most difficult for each of us, these difficulties are absolutely universal for us, whether we recognize them or not. And we look at how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times. This sets us up for the ideal conditions for us to be fulfilled in our individual lives and to contribute to the world by finding and living from our best selves today, we’re gonna continue to delve deeply into the key practice that has helped thousands of people to make a simple link between the most challenging feelings and situations we face each day and how to move toward healing and well-being while we’re there. This is a grounded, inspirational way to live. It starts with authentically facing what is difficult and naturally can lead us to inquire how do I, or how do we best take care of myself or ourselves and those around us? This is what I wish was taught in school from first grade on or from my parents, I’d even settle for a cousin, but in lieu of that, we’re gonna dive in here. I’d like to start off by introducing Dave, my dearest friend and partner at the Global Bridge Foundation.
Robert, thank you. Um, as, as always this particular set of, uh, conversations, uh, insights and, and things as, uh, present with me today, it’s always present with me every day, um, in this particular moment and I’m sure I will, uh, share it. Uh, it thankfully is not something that happens every day, but it is something that is a poignant and challenging time. And, uh, I look forward to these, these things we’re about to talk about.
Robert Strock: (03:36)
Thanks, David. And I, I believe you, knowing you as I, I do that you will be sharing it. And I know that you are facing your share today. So, I’d like to start off by summarizing. And I wanna say simply, but it, conceptually it’s very simple, but the implications for you or of the world are enormous. Whether we do this or something similar to this, versus primarily just live the American dream and work with our persona, but really dive deeper into whatever might be most difficult for us as a starting point. So, we start with really honoring and valuing whatever is challenging for us. And we’re really working with having a content response to drop into our challenging emotion. So, that’s really the first step, challenging emotion or challenging situation or the combination of both, that’s step one, but it’s not just looking at it.
Robert Strock: (04:57)
It’s looking at it and recognizing that it’s a valuable part of us. And if we suppress it, or if we really stew in it, we’re, we’re gonna be stewed in life. And then when we’re there, we have the chance to make the, the most significant transformation to the second step, which is finding a place inside ourselves that wants to care for ourselves that wants to move toward healing. That wants to move toward caring, wants to move toward being sensitive and that not cosmetic, that requires a bit of familiarity with your inner world. And it becomes our greatest ally to make that extraordinarily important pivot, challenging emotion, challenging situation. And then we find this place that wants to care that wants to move toward healing. Now, once we find that, that sets us up for the third step, which is really inquiring or asking ourselves to question something as similar to how can I best take care of myself?
Robert Strock: (06:25)
And that is a way to steer our attention, even if we’re feeling so bad that we can’t change the feeling, at least that can lead us to what those of you that have been following us. We have called friendly mind, which is at least mentally, we can really get straight and strong. So, our mind can be our ally. So, we need to learn sometimes when things are really difficult, that to have a really wise mind is gold. In fact, for those of you that have been listening closely, I personally give the greatest credit to when we’re feeling the worst. We find our intention to heal. We find our inquiry and it can lead us just to our mind being a supporter and advocate for, for ourselves and our situation. Now, when we inquire, we’re asking how to best take care of ourselves that will naturally lead us to our wisdom or what we’ve called our wisdom-guidance, which will be sometimes actions that are necessary to move us toward healing. Sometimes it will be the thoughts in our mind, sometimes when we’re really sensitive, it’ll even include the rhythm of the thoughts of our mind. Sometimes it’ll lead us to qualities that we need to embrace and do our best to embody, to care for ourselves.
Robert Strock: (08:03)
And then we move to the fifth step, which really is wisdom-guidance in action. It’s really manifesting or implementing or following what our wisdom is telling us and really being vigilant in how we honor respect. And as we develop this practice, we can start to identify with these five steps as being a much better definition of who we are than what we feel. And we can see the triviality of how we normally sense our identity is, well, this is how I feel today. No, no, this is the beginning of how we face ourselves. We’re aware of ourselves, but we know and become familiar. This is a way to turn that at least partially around, we’re not talking about quick fixes where we can instantly feel better. That’s the trap. It’s more that we can shift at least our mind and find some wisdom to guide us and recognize.
Robert Strock: (09:21)
And it does take thousands of times to really have this become instinctual, where our identification with our feelings is lessening our recognition of our feelings. Our challenging feelings is not lessening, but we’re seeing it as the starting point. So, hopefully that’s clear to you at least conceptually, and understanding that all of this needs to be applied to your very situation or your very feeling you started with, and that it’s not something that you just keep in your head. That’s probably 3% valuable, 97% is really applying and living actively, dynamically. These five principles or steps that we just referenced.
Robert Strock: (10:18)
Now, it sounds simple enough to do or act or think this way or even understand this. But if you ask yourself, when you are in your most difficult times, whether it’s to do with illness or potential illness, waiting for medical news, having a fight with your wife, having difficulty with money, having difficulty with friends, having difficulty with families, with your family and looking at how deeply challenging that can be, can be scary as hell, it can be infuriating. You can feel helpless, feel depressed or anxious. Ask yourself what percentage of the time are you remembering to move in a direction that reminds me, reminds you that, oh, I wanted to try to find a way to care for myself, to move toward healing when I’m feeling this. Now I’ve been doing this for 40 plus years and I still forget every day and I have to remind myself in a certain way.
Robert Strock: (11:41)
I have a playful way of saying ,how long is the longest each day that I forget, you know, how, how many seconds, how many minutes is it where I remember that? Oh yeah, that’s right. This feeling isn’t the end of the world, I, I’m not frozen here, I don’t have to be frozen here. I can remember that, I can look to access that intention to heal, to get this process stimulated. But again, I come back to ask you what percentage of the time do you reverse the process or move toward reversing the process when you’re feeling there. And you can remember and do it, but many times you need to remember and do it 15 times in the first two minutes, you might have to keep repeating and repeating cuz you can do it and then space out and go back to the feeling.
Robert Strock: (12:35)
So, it’s so important that you recognize that this is the way you have the best chance of moving toward the best place you can possibly be in your actions, your thoughts and your feelings. When you really, you remind yourself over and over again, when I’m not feeling good, I can implement this intention, but that process, and I encourage you to go to Awareness That Heals and look at some of the guided meditations at Awarenessthatheals.org, to see the process of how to find the intention, because that’s kind of the key turnaround where you pivot, where you recognize this feeling is not God, this feeling is not frozen. And especially if I learn how to move in that intention, how I learn how to find it. And if you see that it’s a very small percentage of time that you remember, see if you can minimize the amount that you feel bad, but recognize that actually that gives you a chance to have so much evolution, so much being able to feel better as you get older and wiser.
Robert Strock: (14:05)
This is a practical way of implementing wisdom when you need it the most. And that’s why I would say that as we get older or it truly can be the golden years because we truly can really be proud of our character. If we learn how to turn around these difficult feelings, recognizing that for a large percentage of the planet even, but even being aware of the specific feelings is something that isn’t really looked at closely. You know, it can be religious beliefs or wanting to have a certain persona. So, there’s a dignity in even being honest with yourself, this is what I’m going through, but not so much that, ah, I’ve arrived. I’ve admitted what I feel now that that might be good enough for a very simplistic kind of psychology or expressing feelings. But we’re talking about something much more than just expressing feelings.
Robert Strock: (15:21)
We’re talking about really getting and living and practicing, finding your essential needs and implementing them. Now I’ve shared with you a number of times, the experience for 10 years, where I felt literally miserable for 10 years, following my kidney transplant and the medication reactions that I had to that, and that led to a sleeplessness or an hour a night for six months, and then about three to three and a half hours for close to 10 years. And I was exhausted all the time, so I never felt good. I, I was equally suffering to every client I saw. What I had was, I did find the intention to heal, and that led to a friendly mind that led to a guiding principle and that led to a focus and an implementation. But I still didn’t feel good. That’s the key, it’s not falling prey to think, well, it doesn’t work cuz I don’t feel good.
Robert Strock: (16:29)
No I’m resourceful, I’m able to take care of myself. I’m still able to function. I’m still able to call the doctor when I need the doctor. I’m still able to have the difficult conversation when I need to have the difficult conversation. I’m still able to have perspective if I’m having issues with money to tackle them or maybe to address them, maybe you don’t have to tackle them. So, unfortunately this isn’t taught to us as I briefly referenced in the opening when we’re young. Frankly, it’s not taught to us when we’re medium or old. So, it’s very important to recognize that we’re not talking about a, and I’m using this as a quote, of feeling stew, where we’re stewing in our feelings because that can be very easily misunderstood. When you focus initially on being aware of your challenging emotions and that’s not stewing in our emotions, whether it’s privately or whether we’re sharing it with others.
Robert Strock: (17:37)
I used to believe, in my twenties, you know, I had the freedom because it wasn’t that big a deal. Cause I wasn’t suffering that much. That if I felt what I felt, I was aware of what I felt and I shared it with friends that I’d feel better. And when I wasn’t really suffering very deeply, that worked well enough. But I didn’t really realize that not only did I have to have the intention to heal, which at that time I didn’t have that as a concept, it was just an instinct. But I also needed to really see how I could be my best self by following all those steps. Now, how much do you get that? Just ask yourself, is this easy to understand for you? And if it isn’t easy to understand, I would highly encourage you to repeat it. And some of the other earlier episodes, because conceptually is such a small beginning of this practice. And if you really don’t understand it and have it down, I would encourage you to take notes, write it down, you know, really have it lucid and then go through not only the podcast, but the guided meditations and support yourself as to how do I move from these stages, not only what they are, but how do I move there?
So, thank you for all of that. That is very clarifying. And I, I, I do want to, as I said at the onset share that, um, and this is something if folks have been tuning in over the last year that I, I go through periodically as, as, uh, I’ve been dealing with my, my spouse’s long time spouse’s health. And we are in that one example right now that you mentioned where we’re anticipating, uh, two biopsies, um, will then be anticipating, waiting for the results, um, and a variety of possibilities and outcomes. So it’s, uh, often on, and I really mean often, and all of those steps that you described, um, and, and having particularly been, uh, in the situation so many times, uh, because of the challenges over the years and especially the last year, uh, I, I do find myself with a pretty familiar state, a pretty familiar state of there you are.
Uh, I’m afraid, I’m anxious. Uh, I’m uncertain because things are uncertain. It’s real, it’s, it’s, it’s truly there. So, there is no, uh, resolution in the moment of the feelings completely. And that’s just not realistic because the uncertainty is actually the case. And I am not going to eliminate my response to uncertainty. And that leads me with what as folks have been listening to with, how do I then think about that? What is as, as we’ve called it, the friendly mind, what is the approach I can take, that’s going to create a, a sense of the most healing approach to my feelings within me and as it relates to how I, I talk about these feelings and, and share them with my, with my wife. Uh, what, or, or not, sometimes it’s, or, or not, uh, times it’s, um, as you have said before, go, go make some eggs. Uh, you know, it, it isn’t really going anywhere, particularly because it is a time of waiting and it’s a time of, of patience, um, patience with not being patient sometimes. And it’s, and it’s all of those things that, that are, are wrapped up in it. And that is the state that I wake up to right now, um, in these last days and probably for the next, uh, several weeks. And then we’ll see from there.
Robert Strock: (22:03)
So, Dave spoke about friendly mind and it’s so instinctive for him, you know, and, and we, we share daily about a variety of things, obviously, including this, where the intention to heal is actually inbred. It’s like, it’s a, it’s an automatic instinct. And I want to, just, for those of you, that that been actually are, are new, are new to the podcast, that intention to heal is a critical, critical step. But as Dave is sharing, he went right to friendly mind, and it’s quite critical to make that concrete. So, I wanna ask you Dave, very specifically and concisely, what are the friendly mind thoughts that are, you are finding most helpful while you’re in the anxiety, so we can really see the implementation.
Okay. I am afraid. I, I, I am seeing it. Um, I want to take care of myself. Yes. And that, that is what I would call my, the way I would express the intention to heal. I want, I want to take good care of myself in these moments. I wanna, I want to be as gentle as I can with myself. I do not want to get into a cycle of, I shouldn’t feel what I feel or my God I’ve been this way and in this circumstance, so many times you would think I would’ve learned by now. No, no, it for me and I, and I don’t think for most people that it works that way. I think feelings arise. So, the first thing for me is being gentle with myself and saying to myself, as we have talked about so many times, anybody facing these circumstances, almost universally, would experience some of these variations on the, uh, theme of these feelings more or less.
And that it’s completely understandable. Uh, and again, this is in the midst of feeling these feelings, I’m saying this to myself. So, this is what I, you asked me what thoughts I’m using. It’s, it’s letting myself know that it’s okay. Uh, it’s it’s saying you can expect to come and go. You can assume, in fact, that it’s natural and normal for this to come and go. You can choose to share if it, if I, I, I tell myself I, if I have, uh, people I can talk to, uh, that will understand me. Um, I make the choice to do that. Some people may feel more internal and sometimes I feel more internal. I have to do that when I’m ready. And I, and I give myself permission to feel the patience to, and the, in the spontaneity of, share it or not. And so, it is really a, a moment to moment, uh, being with myself, which again can impact the feeling sometimes, like I said, they come and go, but generally speaking, the theme of my more difficult moments is this. And I am okay, as be as okay, as I can be. As I, as I say these things to myself, as I say, this is challenging and it would be, and always will be for anyone and everyone, and especially me.
Robert Strock: (25:40)
So, as we talked in the last week, you know, I’ve been encouraging also to add to that. And this is for, for all of us is I, I’m sorry you have to go through this and I am proud of you for making such big best efforts and not just letting your feelings run you. And those are really important words. And then there’s another leap that the heart is, the hardest leap when you’re dealing with health. But it oftentimes is one that we also wanna remember with friendly mind, which is what we’re anticipating or what we’re bummed out about, or what we’re angry out is being able to go to the place like, with health it would be no matter the results, I’m still gonna be there. Of course, unless you die, but I’m still gonna be there and I’m still gonna make my best effort. And what I’m afraid of, or what I’m anticipating is something that I might respond to in a way that is so unimaginable, that courage could be there.
Robert Strock: (26:57)
That wisdom could be there. That certainly my intention to heal or wanting to care for myself can be there so many times what we’re feeling. We’re not imagining the end point of I’m gonna have that communication with my boss or with my lover. I’m gonna give it my best efforts. I’m gonna bring my best tone of voice. And if it doesn’t work out and we end up having a fight, I’m gonna deal with what kind of boundaries or how I need to take care of myself. So, in a certain way, friendly mind goes to the moment. But sometimes it goes to the future to reassure us that I am going to be, I am going to be okay, even with my loss, if that happens, I have the capacity to respond to everything, no matter what it is, because none of us are gonna get out of this life without having to face the biggest challenges of our mortality and our humanity.
Robert Strock: (27:59)
And so, it’s important to reassure ourselves that no matter what, we face our intention to heal, our capacity, to have inquiry, our capacity to find our wisdom-guidance, and our capacity to implement it is still there until we die. I was saying to a friend this week that when it comes to merit, I’d rather say, till death do us part, to this process than to my wife. But to me it’s more meaningful to live really true to yourself, really following what you conceive to be how to best care for yourself. I’d rather have that be something I carry right up through the end of my life. And that is an easy pledge to make. So, hopefully those of you that have really started to apply this to your life, which is, is the most important thing. Forget about me, forget about Dave, forget about the fact that it’s even heard here.
Robert Strock: (29:15)
Even forget about the words. If you like different words that would represent it, doesn’t matter whether you use intention to heal. Doesn’t matter whether you use, I wanna care for myself, but having a pivot where you’re wishing the best for yourself, it could be just a prayer. It could be represented that way. But the key thing is that you honor your difficult feelings, that you don’t feel that you’re supposed to get over them and that you get this pivot. And that you’re carrying that as a source of esteem, as a source of courage, as a source of the maximum safety that you can possibly manifest because paradoxically, when we face what isn’t safe to ourself, and we have this kind of caring response, that’s the way we’re most safe. That’s the way we’re most courageous and the, the way that we can best live this life is to know that we’re there for ourselves. And also those that we love and that we share this with others that really are part of our core world. So, this is truly my wish and my prayer. And I thank you for your careful attention and truly hope that this becomes a part of your lifestyle. Thanks so much.
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