One of the first steps to move toward healing is awareness. In this episode, Robert explores how awareness and working towards a deeper understanding of our tone of voice can positively impact our relationships with others and ourselves.
Think back to the last time you were in a challenging situation. What were your internal thoughts? What did your tone of voice toward yourself sound like? Was it partially judgemental or did it have elements of a critical edginess? Or was it mostly empathic and accepting? When faced with a challenging situation, taking care of ourselves involves learning to find a place inside ourselves that allows us to organically change our tone of voice to one of greater kindness, strength or whatever is most called for. It’s okay to be where you are and feel what you are feeling no matter what it is, and at the same time it is an art to energize the parts of ourselves that will bring the most connection and fulfillment.
When you set on the path to understand and work on your tone of voice, you will find that it requires awareness first and then honesty and humility to respond in a way that most conveys what is in your heart. It takes humility to understand what your most important intention is. The priority is to keep moving toward healing and caring. Both humility and honesty are crucial because seeing your tone of voice clearly and using inquiry and wisdom guidance to understand yourself better can also reveal some unflattering parts of yourself. We all like to feel good about ourselves, about what we feel and it might take time for you to accept your thoughts, emotions, and feelings more deeply. It’s often helpful to take the time to find an outlet to express yourself without harming anyone else. In the moment, it might be difficult to see that as progress towards your wellbeing, but finding an intention to heal and care and moving toward it is a great start.
This episode also makes a case for a healthy amount of self-doubt because it almost always goes hand in hand with a healthy amount of self-trust. Awareness about your imperfections and that you’re a work in progress will help you in the long run. It sets up ideal conditions for the chance to see how you are human like everyone else and optimizes the chance to lead a more fulfilled life. It also creates the conditions that gives you/us greater intimacy and peace and an intrinsic desire to contribute to the world at large.
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. For an exact quote or comment, please contact us.
Awareness That Heals, Episode 50.
Robert Strock: (00:04)
This is so vital that in our daily life, that we have so much more appreciation than we were taught, for what is challenging and difficult for us, because the tendency almost universally is to bury it, even from ourselves.
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: (01:10)
Very warm welcome again, to Awareness That Heals, where we do our damnedest to focus on bringing heart and wisdom and to really face our life’s challenges. This is so vital that in our daily life, that we have so much more appreciation than we were taught for what is challenging and difficult for us because the tendency almost universally is to bury it even from ourselves. And even if we have somewhat of a stable awareness of it, we very rarely have an outlet to express it and to find a way to neutralize it. And so, it’s so crucial that we change our preference for feeling good all the time to being where we are and being honest and aware of ourselves and that feeling good all the time or feeling good most of the time or more of the time, that wish is a drug that wishes an addiction, that wish creates a blind spot.
Robert Strock: (02:35)
And more importantly, as where are we when we’re feeling challenges? Ah, we feel a challenge that gives us a chance to actually turn a challenge into a pregnancy of a birth for feeling sad, if a chance to be more happy, we have a chance to also care for the sadness. And so, when we feel the challenge, we want to naturally ask ourselves and over again, how can we care for ourselves at these crucial times? And it’s only by going through this quantum shift where we move more and more toward wanting to be as we are, not wanting to live from a persona, but literally, how am I really? And this sets up the ideal conditions for us to be having the greatest chance to have more fulfillment in our lives, more intimacy in our lives, more peace in our lives, to contribute to the world more. And we all know that, that our life is relatively short and to contribute to our quality of life, certainly facing what challenges us and finding a way to have it not pollute the world and pollute our body is something that is a great aspiration. So, as we enter into this, what I believe will be last episode of tone of voice I’d like to introduce Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and close, close friend for 50 years.
Thank you. And, uh, as this episode and this chapter really of, of your book Awareness That Heals draws to a close, there’s something you said on this introduction I want to highlight and ask you to elaborate on, which is finding the truth and expressing the truth in our tones and the, the sensitivity to what that means. And combining that again, to harken back to the beginning with the intention to heal, because expression of the truth, as we’ve been talking about it, is simply not a catharsis. It’s simply not a dumping. And I think that, that can’t be said too often.
Robert Strock: (05:01)
Yeah, that’s for sure. One of my favorite expressions, which I use frequently comes from Buddha and, and it is the truth isn’t truth, unless it’s constructive. So, if we’re not creating benefit, all, all of us think we’re, we’re truth tellers, uh, we’re deceiving ourselves. So, it’s so important that when we’re talking about truth in this environment, we’re not talking about esoteric truth. We’re talking about what is truly what we feel, what is truly our intentions and being honest with ourselves. And so, the importance of being close to ourselves, which sounds almost absurd, that, that the reality is most of us are not close to ourselves. We’re far away. And we think if we get closer to ourselves, we’re going to get burnt. And the reason why we think we’re going to get burnt is because the reason why we got far away from ourselves is we thought it was a nasty part of ourselves that we’re better off to, to not deal with.
Robert Strock: (06:03)
Now, that’s not a conscious process, but that’s the way the unconscious works. And so, as Dave says, the key is we need to find an intention to heal and develop a trust that, that intention to heal is going to bring a caring when we uproot or open the, the basement door or look somewhere we’ve, we haven’t looked behind a rock to see the feelings that we’ve rejected. And so, the, the importance is that we see this partnership between our most challenging emotions and the intention to heal. And when we see them together, it’s unbelievably motivating to find everything and we want to be close to ourselves. You know, it makes me smile. It makes me laugh and almost absurdity when I, it’s the first time I’ve actually said it that way in terms of, we don’t want to be close to ourselves. I mean, and it’s that absurd, but yes.
Robert Strock: (07:09)
Okay. In this way, we want to be closer to what our unconscious is, deemed our bad self. And we’re now saying to ourselves, our bad self is lost in a thwarted need or a thwarted desire. And we need to get back to that desire, that need, and see if it’s crucial. We’re not going to be able to do it if we keep it unconscious. So, we need to wake up in the morning. And during the day, in the evening, we need to wake up with saying, I want to be close to you. Now, look at your resistance, is a resistance to being close to yourself. I mean, is it not evident when it’s framed that way, that you are rejecting yourself by not embracing yourself? You are rejecting yourself by judging yourself. You are rejecting yourself by withdrawing yourself. I am rejecting myself when I am withdrawing from myself.
Robert Strock: (08:05)
I am rejecting myself. When I judge myself, I do want to be closer to myself. Now, I also know a part of my unconscious doesn’t want to be closer to me. So, I need to keep persevering to be able to have a chance, to be closer to myself and the parts that I still haven’t discovered. And this, this I expect to die with. Like everybody else, I’m not going to arrive. I’m not going to, I’m not going to get there, there, but I’m hoping to get there, you know, not they’re there. So, hopefully that makes sense that this partnership becomes a source of motivation to do the mining, to find the very most challenging size, because we have a possibility of cultivating our intention to care in a way that it becomes like our rock or our hidden treasure, because we see that when we want to care for ourselves, things are going to improve. And especially if the kind of caring is transferable, you know, it’s not just a narcissistic. Oh, you’re wonderful. You’re wonderful. While you’re acting out, it’s the kind of caring that’s universal, that translates from you to others.
To clarify one more thing please. This self-recrimination, the self-judgment, this, um, quote, “bad self.” I don’t believe when I’m feeling upset, if assuming I’m aware of it, and I say, you know, I’m off right now. And if I’m aware enough, I haven’t put it out. But if I’m aware enough on a, on another level, maybe I can acknowledge that part of myself that I’m not even proud of. And that acknowledging parts of myself that I’m not proud of is a net benefit.
Robert Strock: (10:08)
Yeah. I mean, I mean, there’s no question it’s a net benefit and it’s, it’s only halfway there, but, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a net benefit, acknowledging a part of yourself as angry it’s great. Cause then you’re less acting out and you have now made it a part of yourself rather than your, your expression and your tone going to the next level of, of, of saying what your aspiration is or your intention is. But like, even if you don’t know what it might be, that, you know what, I don’t know what I want, but I know I want something, I’ll get back to you. You know, I know, I don’t know what I need. I, I’m going to go look at the chart, you know, see what you see, what my need is. That’s three quarters of the way there and being all the way there for a situation, which, you know, I’m not saying we can’t solve situations.
Robert Strock: (10:58)
I just say we can’t solve the whole internal structure of our life. Being able to really say I’m off. And this is the need I have. That would allow me to really feel close to you or to feel close to you or to be at peace or to feel connected or whatever it is. That’s, that’s the home run. So that’s, that’s what the aspiration is. So in the last episode, we, we talked quite a bit about how hard it is when your partner really treats you badly and you really feel wrong and how almost impossible it is to not just be reactive and how hard it is to really say no, I’m going to find my intention to heal and enter into that practice. Well, there’s another way of helping ourselves. If we have the, let’s say intention to heal enough and the intention to understand the other enough, we can take an interest by saying, would you tell me why you, why you were upset with me?
Robert Strock: (12:06)
What was your need that made you upset with me rather than just figuring out what our need is. We go backwards a step and we show an interest to say, I wonder why, you know, I’m not sure if you’re, you might even say, I’m not sure if you’re, uh, if you were upset or I’m not sure if you’re aware of being upset, depending on the situation, you’d say different things, depending on the person. If you say, you know, I, you know, what made you angry that might make the person anger? Cause they were sure they weren’t angry, but so yeah, you want to be strategic in how you approach it, but you say, what was it? What was the need that you had? Or what did you want that made you angry? Now, the second you do that, you’ve disenfranchised your own anger from acting out.
Robert Strock: (12:56)
Your tone of voice is going to be more curious, more, at least even, maybe there’ll be tinges of anger. It’ll still sneak through, but it’ll be really, really reduced. And that I’ve found to be a very profound way. That’s a, uh, a stopper of conversation. Yeah. I, I could have said a breakthrough, but it’s usually not a breakthrough. You usually, what happens is the person’s kind of shocked that you took any interest in them at all and they have no idea what they need. And so being ready for that and say, well, I want you to know. I actually would be interested in what you need. And that would be easier for me to hear. So, when you get that to me, so while you’re doing that, you’re contemplating your tone of voice and you’re doing your best to be, even while you’re using the wisdom-guidance, which was proceeded by, as we’ve talked about before detention to attention, to heal likely friendly mind, likely inquiry, likely wisdom-guidance.
Robert Strock: (14:04)
You’re using your wisdom-guidance to ask that question, because you realize anytime your partner is off, they had a need too, just like you did. You had a need for them not to be off at you. They had a preexisting need too, they might even have five. They might say, you know, want me to start with A or Z, you know, it’s like, they might have a whole bunch of needs they have, you never know. So, that is a real power struggle breaker. And if you can stay even when you’re not in the action, if you can stay aware of, you know, what next time that happens, I want to try to do that. That would really, really be mind blowing if I could catch that one out of five times at first and one out of ten times. So that’s, that’s a great way to really make a lot of progress.
Robert Strock: (14:49)
So, one of the themes that in this last episode, that, that we want to kind of reiterate some of the themes that are so central in prior episodes of tone of voice is it’s so counter instinctual to hear this, that it needs to be heard over and over and over again because challenging feelings are addictive, challenging feelings, pretend to be God, they’re authoritarian. They’re real. Your mind isn’t real. What you feel is much more real, oh, we really need to stay aware of how powerful, challenging feelings are. They warp our reality. They change our thinking if we aren’t really aware. So there, the reiteration is addressing all of our tendency to be overly trusting, relative to our partners in particular, when there’s any kind of aggression, I would say that’s 95% true, very, very few people. There are victims, there are professional victims that really are.
Robert Strock: (15:55)
It’s always my fault. It’s always my fault. There are, there’s a small percentage of people, but let’s say it’s 95% true for people that are either neutral or strong people. Some, if they hear a negative energy, it’s always your fault and there’s never really an interest of what your need was. It never goes back there. It’s just, the conversation goes on and on. Now we’re three steps removed. Now we’re four steps removed. Now we’re five steps removed, got to reel back. What were your needs? What were my needs? What were our needs? And if we can bring it back there, then we really have a chance of developing intimacy. Now, in order to develop this intimacy, it requires one of those 75 qualities that are on the chart, which is we need to develop humility because we have to admit that we fail in our tone of voice for most of us many times a day.
Robert Strock: (16:51)
It’s not a matter of, oh, I had a bad week. I did it twice. It’s the kind of thing where, you know, the only exception to that is somebody in COVID that’s living alone and I haven’t seen anybody. I mean, it’s, it’s yeah, there are some people that are again, professional, uh, professionally nice. Uh, but that’s, that’s a category that has its own issues. So I’m, I’m eliminating that category when I’m saying this. So, realizing that we’re overly self-trusting is a great, great epiphany and can allow us to go, I want to be more interested in what you needed when you were angry, when you were upset. Now, sometimes there will be a terrible answer, but being honest about a terrible answer is a big victory. It might be, I threw out rotten milk and I was so upset cause I, I really wanted it, my taste of milk, or it might be the Dodgers lost or the Mets lost or whatever, or my, my sports team lost.
Robert Strock: (17:48)
And so, I was in a mood and then you, then maybe you can both laugh, but so many fights start out of, or somebody is thinking, start out with something that’s just minor, it’s like your, your heart’s beating a little funny. And you’re, you’re imagining that you’re, you know, maybe you should be going to the doctor and you’re scared and you’re anxious. And so, you come out angry. Well, you, you, you didn’t even recognize you didn’t put it together. It was because you had fear and you had anxiety before that. And that led to the, to the anger. If you share that, that would, that would almost be guaranteed to be a hug or an empathic response. But we aren’t used to being this humble over and over again. And one of the other expressions that I like to use quite a bit is healthy self-doubt.
Robert Strock: (18:39)
It’s like when you have a self-doubt, when it’s actually leading you closer to the truth, that is so, um, so pregnant with a more fulfilling, intimate and inspiring life because you aren’t full of yourself. There’s enough emptiness, enough awareness of your own lack of perfection that you realize self-doubt is actually as important as self-trust. Self-doubt is related to self-trust. Someone that has deep self-trust has deep self-doubt. It’s a partnership that doesn’t mean we stew in self-doubt. That doesn’t mean it’s a permanent state. The self-doubt leads to an intention to heal. Intention to see how could I have more trust. And then we go through all, all the various themes again and again, that self-doubt as Krishnamurti said, as when he was asked to define what, what is healthy definition of religion? It was continuous skeptical investigation.
Robert Strock: (19:48)
And to me that was one of the best definitions of a religious person, but somebody who isn’t in some kind of blind faith. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for faith. I have faith. It’s just that I also have what I consider a healthy self-doubt along with the faith. And I think both are intelligent. One allows you to, to have a sense of well-being. Um, I’m not convinced that, uh, that Jesus is going to give you a kingdom of heaven just because you remember his name, that doesn’t quite make sense to me, but certainly remembering him, his spirit, his example, the way he lived, but having a healthy self-doubt about the fact that you’re human. So of course, you have some self-doubt if you’re open and honest for yourself.
Uh, I want to, I want to say there’s another angle on self-doubt that I relate to and is, is part of what I would call my anxiety. And it, it relates to believing I know an outcome, particularly when it comes to medical issues and, uh, that the outcome is, uh, almost certainly, but it has a very high likelihood of not being a good outcome. And so, I feel a, I wish I felt more doubt in that, right? It’s, it’s a different angle on that, but unfortunately, I’m not able to find the true not knowing that is really the truth of it.
Robert Strock: (21:20)
And it’s very hard. And so, I have a false, or let’s say a uninformed confidence, um, that is what I’m living in.
Robert Strock: (21:32)
Exactly. Great, great example. Um, and I think almost all of us, if not all of us have areas of life where we have an overconfidence, it’s almost the definition of ego. You know, it’s hard to imagine that, that, um, even the person that has the lowest self-esteem, you know will have an area where they’ll think, that they usually think that they’re good at something. Having a healthy self-doubt, I think, I think what you just said right now is okay, if every time I’m confident of a medical outcome, I want to say to myself, you don’t know that for sure. You don’t know that for sure. So you have, you have, you’re asking the question, what would I say to myself in the words would be, you don’t know that for sure. It’s, it’s important that you don’t, uh, you give it in percentages, you, you don’t act like, you know, um, and, and also it’s like the, uh, the confidence to go, even in certain directions.
Robert Strock: (22:31)
It’s like, uh, I think, uh, think of you medically, it’s like, I’m confident that this direction is a good direction to go, because then, then I’ll gain more knowledge and that’s going to help me with this medical situation. And you may end up going down a rabbit hole. And of course you and I disagree about some of these, some of these things, but I think it would be good to have healthy self-doubt with that too, and say, you know what, how many hours of suffering have I accrued by my research in certain areas that, and how much did I really gain, and how can I discern the likelihood? And maybe it’s, maybe it’s something like what the military does. Well, this person’s going to die for sure anyway, and this person I could maybe save the life, this person’s going to live anyway. It’s like, maybe you, maybe you really, you know, you narrow the search of, of, of your confidence that your research is really going to be beneficial to that, to that what you really have double-checked and said, you know what, you got a tendency to be a medical researcher. Yeah. It’s just really, it’s just really worth it. I’m not sure.
And it’s, it for me again, personally, it’s, it’s not just about whether it’s worth it. It’s about where inside of me is that motivation or that impulse coming from, and that’s, that is a real inquiry. And that, that’s an inquiry that has a different answers at different times and that’s what makes it difficult. Uh, sometimes the, there are results. Sometimes it is simply me revving up an anxiety for, and a suffering as you described. And yes, over the years we’ve known each other. I have, I have been known to do, uh, both of those things, but I don’t want to do any of that if I can avoid it.
Robert Strock: (24:14)
Yeah. So I think, I think just even softly having the, well am I really sure, and I think the answer is always going to be no, uh, if you’re honest, I’m not sure. Um, but cause my leaning to believe myself enough to do it or not. And I think that’s, that’s what you can do as a starter. I mean, just continuously having a healthy self-doubt. Um, so in wrapping this up and wrap, wrapping up tone of voice, it really requires sensitivity as incensing yourself and not being distant from yourself. Being closer to yourself, it requires honesty, requires awareness and it requires humility. Cause we, we need to be open to seeing unflattering sides of ourselves. And it’s hard to see it at first that it’s a straighter path to well-being, to face our challenges, to see our challenges, to face our challenges and see how those transmit in our tone of voice and what that sounds like.
Robert Strock: (25:31)
It’s like, it’s really literally being objective. And just hearing the sound, forget the words, go word-deaf. You know, you don’t hear the words. You’ll only hear the sounds. And when you hear the sounds, then maybe you ask yourself, how would that sound change if I added an intention to heal, an intention to be more sensitive, courageous, trusting, whatever quality is needed, how would that sound different if I added the quality that was needed, that would be most fulfilling, satisfying, and attuned to the moment. And when we really stay with sound, it is such a beautiful expression of our heart. When I say beautiful, maybe a more accurate word would be astute, enlightening, it’s certainly not always beautiful, but it’s beautiful in the sense that it’s accurate. And so, when we start to take a keen interest in sound or tone of voice out of the wish to be connected and harmonious, or in some cases it’s strong, in some cases it’s humble, whatever the need is, that tone of voice that wish to improve.
Robert Strock: (27:01)
Our tone of voice is gold. It’s the same thing as saying to yourself, I love you. And I want to love you more and more and more. And because we’re used to, and we’re in an identity of being unconsciously apart from ourselves, that’s not obvious. So, it’s important to realize when my sound, my tone of voice sounds harmonious or sounds strong when I need to be strong, or sounds humble when I need to be humble, sounds vulnerable when I need to be vulnerable. That is the key to me, falling in love with myself. That’s the key to me, not rejecting myself. So, my wish in such a strong way is that all of us see tone of voice as an intervention for our own healing, and an intervention for healing, the world, that it is contagious and that we can utilize it with the intention to heal with, with a friendly mind if we need it because we’re down on ourselves. And with a question of asking how our tone of voice can, let’s say be more, uh, pretty more, more bold, more exactly the quality that would make our heart sing, or at least allow the suffering to be the least.
Robert Strock: (28:43)
It’s so simple to stay with tone of voice as a concept. And it’s so evolutionary for us as human beings, to be able to take on our own tone of voice as a way to make love with ourselves, to actually care for ourselves, to have it be the amplification. One of the most obvious, maybe the most obvious amplification of how are we really, when we listen to our sound, or frankly when we listened to another sound, we can hear how they are beyond their words. So, my wish is that intention to heal and all the other aspects are used to create this tone, the sound that is like a purring, it’s like a dog barking with joy. It’s like the kids howling. And it’s like us putting our hands on our heart and saying the purpose of my life is my tone of voice to sound like a beautiful spa. So, I wish this for all of us. And I truly thank you for your attention and hope tone of voice is something sacred to you and something that you really will want to realize to get to, bringing your attention to thanks so much for your attention.
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