It is a pleasure to have you join us for this final part of the series centered around Robert’s book, Awareness that Heals. Here we will continue to develop a greater capacity to have a more healing response to emotions rather than becoming trapped in conditioned reactions that each of us has. Most of us get confused and think we are the imprint of our conditioning from the way our parents raised us, our siblings, our society, our movies, and our sports. If we can find our awareness beyond this, we have the potential to be free.
Normally, our conditioning is like a tornado, moving us along. The work we are doing here, together, is to strengthen our aptitude to think for ourselves, question ourselves, listen to what the answers are, and respond. Don’t let yourself get too grandiose. Instead, relish the little steps as the big accomplishments that they are. Robert and Dave will finalize the book with a summary. As well as providing the context of the eighth chapter with all the chapters and how they integrate and support each other. As Robert and Dave review, don’t just hear it, but glimpse it from your life experience and ask yourself questions from the heart. With your wisdom, you can bring both your wisest thoughts and your best qualities together to guide your life. The most important thing isn’t to appear developed. The most important thing is to authentically be right where you are in your development.
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 69.
Robert Strock: (00:03)
The way our parents raised us, our siblings, our society, our movies, our sports, everything that affected us is an imprint. And most of us get confused and think we are the imprint. We are the one that can observe the imprint. We are the one that can respond to the imprint. We are the one that has the potential to be free, if we can find our awareness.
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: (01:14)
A very warm welcome again, to Awareness That Heals, it’s a pleasure to have you be joining us on this final program of the book. And what we’re gonna be talking about today is again, something that is so central to living a fulfilling life and breaking free from where we’re trapped in conditioned reactions that each of us have. And when I say conditioned reactions, I wanna be clear, I’m talking about the way our parents raised us, our siblings, our society, our movies, our sports, everything that affected us is an imprint. And most of us get confused and think we are the imprint. We are the one that can observe the imprint. We are the one that can respond to the imprint. We are the one that has the potential to be free, if we can find our awareness. And we all have loads of conditioning or what might be called hypnosis. Actually free associating,
Robert Strock: (02:26)
I had a very close friend that had The Institute for Dehypnotherapy, and his premise was he was trying to dehypnotize us from the way that we were trained to think that we were or who we were. Do you get this? Does this make sense to you that you think you are a success or a failure? You think you’re sexy or not sexy. You think you’re young or not young. You think you’re bald or you have hair. You think you’re powerful, not powerful. You think you’re smarter, you’re not smart. What about what you really care about in your own awareness? How much have you dipped into asking yourself, what is my aspiration in this life? So, none of us are really liberated from having our own or creating our own direction in life, where we’re naturally following ourselves, where we’ll have, or we would have a selection of what we’re exposed to that we choose to align with.
Robert Strock: (03:45)
Normally it’s just like a tornado, our conditioning moving us, and that we really need to develop our capacity to think for ourselves and to question for ourselves and to listen to what the answers are and respond to what the answers are. That’s a lot of steps. And the whole point is not to feel guilty or inadequate or ashamed. The whole point is if you get this, it can be an inspiration to wanna spend more time drawing inside and saying, what do I really care about? What are my values? And realistically, how can I move from here? Don’t get grandiose, look at little steps. What little steps can I take? Maybe I can be more welcoming in the morning. Maybe I can be nicer to the person in the supermarket. Maybe I can be nicer to myself. Maybe I can brush my teeth twice a day.
Robert Strock: (04:48)
Who knows, today we’re gonna finalize both the chapter and the book with a summary of both and a little bit extra. And it applies, the book applies, chapter applies to various concrete examples that all of us have to deal with. Please, and I really ask you, please use your own examples as we share ours, your examples are much more important than ours because they apply to you. This isn’t designed to speak just to your head. This is designed to speak to your capacity, to be yourself and see yourself. The whole point is to use it for you and those around you. So, I’d like to start off introducing Dave, my dearest friend for the last 50 plus years, long time, we’re aging ourselves, or actually age is aging us, and my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation. Dave, thanks again for going on this whole long ride with me, it’s been a joy.
I don’t even know what to say. I, I can’t, uh, almost can’t accept that we’re at the end of this, going through the book, the process of the book itself, the, uh, I think incredibly meaningful expressions of these podcasts and the way that the expressions are so practical and, and oriented to facilitate people. And of course, as I hear it myself as well, looking inside, seeing what’s what. Seeing where I’m committed, seeing where I’m not, and both are true. And there’s always, there’s always places to go there. It never is, never is ending. So I am grateful.
Robert Strock: (07:04)
I’m not amazed anymore that each time I go through any parts of the book that I flash on last week, or I flash on today, or I flash on something that, oh, I can tweak this a little bit or, oh boy was I spaced out there. I missed that moment. That there’s something, and it’s the good news, it’s not the bad news. It’s not like, oh shit. Sometimes it’s oh shit. But usually it’s oh shit, oh, good. If it’s that one because it’s oh, good. I have a chance of being aware now, the chance of actually being able to move toward healing. So, I’m gonna summarize this last chapter and then I’m gonna summarize the book very quickly. And I’m again, as I do it, I’m asking you not to just hear it from your head, hear it from glimpses of your life experience.
Robert Strock: (07:57)
So the first one is identifying your ways, all of our ways that you have been and are angry, or you have emotions that are like anger that have resistance in them, that have tension in them, like impatience, intolerance, incredulousness, sarcasm, frustration, and look at them. And when you look at them and you’re aware of them, see the awareness from the upside of the awareness. It’s not like, oh shit, there I am, again. It’s like, oh, good, I can see, my eyes are open. So awareness, a key part of the subtle part of awareness, step one is, is that you’re actually much more on the happy side to see it than you are on the downside of judging it. If you’re judging the awareness, it’s not real awareness. If you’re really caught deeply in judging the awareness, then awareness would say, oh, I’m aware of it and I’m actually the judge.
Robert Strock: (08:55)
So you wanna be the awareness, not the judge of the awareness. So that’s the first step. The second step, while you’re in your frustration, aggravation, annoyance, and patience, intolerance. You actually become aware, you know what this hasn’t worked out very well for me in my life. When I do this, bing, bing, bing, red flags flashing. I want to find a way to make it work out better. I wanna find a way to bring some degree of caring. Not I’m sacrificing myself, I’m finding myself, we sometimes call this the intention to heal, the intention to care. That’s the second step when we’re there. If we’re in the middle of anger or frustration or intolerance, we see that that spontaneous expression virtually never is beneficial. And so it brings us to the third step, which is containment, which is a part of us that wants to stop from just dumping our anger.
Robert Strock: (09:52)
And we also do not wanna suppress it. We wanna experience the full feeling inside us. If we’re caught in a situation where we can’t get away, then we wanna experience it inside of us as fully as possible. And maybe if the person’s right in front of us, we don’t wanna give it away in our facial expression. If we have the luxury of days, we might want us to say to ourselves, I’m not gonna even deal with this. Now I’m gonna wait and go scream in the beach, I’m gonna go scream outside so I can experience it fully. But I can find ways to be with the anger, to feel the juiciness of it, cuz it makes us more alive when we don’t suppress our anger, but it makes us more dead, if we spit it off like negative juice and we experience it fully, privately, or if we have a luxury, like I said, to go to another environment, cuz we have a few days or a week before we have to express it.
Robert Strock: (10:44)
Then that will invariably, if we look for it, help us find the more vulnerable emotions, which is the fourth step, finding our vulnerable emotions like fear, hurt, loss, aloneness, disappointment, helplessness. And then we also will get flashes of the fifth step, which is discovering our needs. And this is something that almost none of us have been trained to discover our needs. So there’s always the encouragement go to awarenessthatheals.org and look on the top gray line and download the free lists of the challenging emotions, 75 of them and the essential needs, 75 of them, which will help you become literate when it comes to your emotions and your needs, which frequently, most people don’t even have separators. And then once you have a grasp of that and you circle the ones that are most common for you, you have a working model to be able to work with yourself and then you drop down and let’s say, you, you get the main principle, oh, I can see that rather than just being against and hating what I’m receiving or hating what I’m not receiving.
Robert Strock: (12:06)
I want to discover what it is that I need that I didn’t guess, or that I did guess. And I wanna say, I would like you not to scream at me rather than I hate that you scream at me or I would like you to be more gentle rather than I don’t like it when you’re detached and you’re looking in the other direction, we want to just come from the expression of our needs, not dominating, expressing what we don’t like. And then we move to the sixth step. Once we discover our needs, we look for a way to express our needs that’s more consistent with the qualities of our heart, which include qualities, life, gentleness, tenderness, strength, empathy, communication, and find ways to communicate as sensitively as we can. When we think there’s a chance that we have to communicate with a person we’re with now, some of the times we’re gonna be with somebody who we know, there’s no chance we can communicate.
Robert Strock: (13:17)
If you’ve got a father or a mother or a child or a boss or an acquaintance, but you know, there’s no chance you can communicate. Then we move from the sixth step, which is communicating as sensitively as possible, at least three times to the seventh step, which is we need to come to resolve this inside ourselves, so our turn, our needs turn inward and we need to find a way to accept this and then figure out to discriminate. Does this mean that the violation of not being able to deal with our anger and frustration, intolerance is so important that we need to have this person not be in our life? Or does it mean that maybe it’s only one quality or one attitude out of 10? And we actually, this is our partner, this is who we love and that we might need to come to a mature acceptance as to where we need to resolve this inside ourselves.
Robert Strock: (14:18)
So, we need to see the whole picture when we’re looking inside ourselves and trying to resolve it as to whether or not we need to accept this or whether we need to actually individuate from this person. So that’s really a nutshell version of the seven steps. If you’ve been with us the whole time, hopefully each time you hear it, you’re applying it more and more to yourself. You’re seeing the steps, how they play out. You can kind of get a glimpse of, I’m mostly in and out of one or I’m mostly in and out of two or three or four or with this person. I’m in I’m, I’m this person, I’m nowhere where, whereas this person I’m actually I’m, I’m actually doing pretty well. So, it’s gonna vary a lot from person to person.
I’d like to ask you, given that this is the last podcast of the book. If you would also just briefly run through as you did for this chapter, but for the book itself. So that we’re left with the context of not only this chapter, but all the chapters and how they integrate and support each other.
Robert Strock: (15:24)
Thanks for that. I, I think it will be helpful as a, as a summary. So when I speak of awareness of anger, the first chapter is four levels of awareness. And the first level of awareness is we need to be aware that we’re unaware. All of us are unaware. All of us have an unconscious, most scientists and psychologists would say we’re 99% unaware. So, starting with that allows for humility where we can start to wake up. And then the second stage of awareness, second level of awareness is fleeting awareness where we start to see things clearly, but we can only handle it for a moment or two, because if we saw it stably, it would disrupt our life. If we see that we’re angry and, and we’re continue to be angry, it would drive us crazy. So we can only say, oh Jesus, you’re really an asshole.
Robert Strock: (16:14)
We can only see it for a few seconds. Then the third level of awareness is a stable intellectual awareness. We can see our moods. We can see where we are and it’s stable, but there’s not any heart in it. We just simply see it. That’s a dangerous state of awareness cuz we think we’re aware, but actually we don’t have the heart. We don’t have the intention to care, to really do something with our awareness, which implies what the fourth level of awareness is, which is we’re aware of where we are and we want to care. We wanna bring our heart to it. That brings us to healing awareness, that’s the awareness that heals. And that is very similar. I’m gonna’ start backwards for a second. But the seventh chapter, the chapter before this is basically the same as anger, except it starts with whatever challenging feelings we have and we go directly to whatever the needs are that will help us with that feeling.
Robert Strock: (17:10)
So we might be hurt or we might be sad. So we ask ourselves, what is the need or to what are the needs that will help us with this sadness or this hurt. But going back to the beginning of the book, the second chapter, which is really for when we’re in really deep, deep shit, when we’re in the hardest times of our life, it might be that we’re terminally ill, we’re dealing with a serious illness, we’re in chronic pain, we’re in divorce, we’re in bankruptcy, we’re in very, very serious problems. And we can’t feel better no matter what we do, our feelings are not gonna feel better. Then it’s learning how to develop a friendly mind, which means I can’t feel better, but at least I can feel a mind that is saying that has some wisdom and I can follow my mind rather than my feelings.
Robert Strock: (18:04)
That’s a very profound chapter that if you haven’t heard it, when you’re really in trouble, you need to dedicate yourself. Like you’re chronically depressed, you’re chronically anxious, you can find a place inside you that can ask from my wisdom, how would I respond today? Do I need to take a rest? Do I need to exercise? You know, do, do I need to see this client or go to work or not go to work? The questions would be asked, how can I best take care of myself from my wisdom? That’s what friendly mind is. It’s a mind that guides you rather than being run with your feelings. In the sixties there used to be an expression, follow your feelings. Friendly minds teaches you, don’t follow your feelings when you’re feeling horrible, follow your wisdom and your friendly mind. And then you have the third chapter, which is looking at self-rejection, which is the most subtle form of self-rejection a subtle, subtle form of pain, which is that when you’re feeling angry, you actually don’t really like yourself, even though you don’t know it because nobody really likes themselves when they’re an asshole. They think they do,
Robert Strock: (19:14)
but down deep we all know we wanna be a caring person. So self-rejection, you can discover it most when you ask yourself the question, do I really like myself when I express X? When the answer is no, that’s a form of self-rejection. When, when you don’t like yourself, because you’re jealous, you’re competitive, you’re angry, you’re envious, you’re inadequate. When you’re rejecting yourself, you have the inadequacy and you’re rejecting yourself cuz you’re inadequate. So then you need to work on the rejection that’s a very, very important chapter to work on. And then, then we deal with tone of voice. Tone of voice is very, very critical that we see both our internal tone of voice and our external tone of voice, because if we’re going to be able to improve our quality of life, we need to have access to see what our own tone of voice is and to develop it, to move from our challenging emotions toward our essential needs and make that transition in our tone of voice.
Robert Strock: (20:23)
And then we move to the next chapter, which is really seeing that we need to ask questions from our heart. That is such a guiding way to live. It’s called inquiry from the heart where we’re asking ourselves questions that are not questions that are there to criticize us. Like what’s wrong with you? We’re asking ourselves, what’s right with you. You know, how can I use my day in the best way possible? How can I interact with this person, with my lover in a way that’s gonna create the most intimacy. Only questions that are there to support you in your life that will lead you to the next chapter, which is wisdom. The answers that you get is your wisdom. When you’re asking these questions that are beckoning you to find your best self, that’s gonna lead you to your wisdom and your wisdom is gonna help guide you.
Robert Strock: (21:18)
Wisdom-guidance is that next chapter. And when you find your wisdom, you have another method to be able to guide yourself no matter how bad you feel. It’s very similar to friendly mind. Friendly, mind and wisdom are kissing cousins. Friendly mind we differentiate as only to be used when you’re really so screwed you can’t feel good at all. Whereas wisdom sometimes when you, when you’re not really feeling terrible, you can both be wise and bring the qualities of your heart, the essential qualities with you. Whereas friendly mind is only when you’re really down deep. So with your wisdom, you can bring both your wisest thoughts and your best qualities together to guide your life. So that’s the short summary of the whole book. I don’t expect anybody to understand it, if this is the first time you’ve listened to it, to be able to track this.
Robert Strock: (22:15)
But if you’ve listened to the whole book, this will probably make good sense to you. I don’t wanna leave out the seventh chapter, which I already made reference to when I said it was very similar to transforming anger and resistant emotions, but basically the chapter is called Feelings to Needs. And it’s every other feeling, other than your aggressive feelings. It’s all your vulnerable feelings and how you can guide yourself from your vulnerable feelings towards your needs. So like I mentioned, if you are feeling sad or hurt or frightened, frightened, you can be led to courage. Sadness can be leading you to how do you find peace? If, if you’re feeling abandoned, how do you feel connected? If you’re feeling withdrawn, how do you engage? It’s, it’s like, it leads you towards the opposite of the vulnerability. What are the needs that can lead you to the opposite toward the opposite?
Robert Strock: (23:15)
If it doesn’t have any illusion that’s black and white and gonna lead you just to, to, the home run land. We’re trying to hit singles and doubles, you know, and along the way, and after we’ve hit enough singles and doubles, then triples and home runs will come on our own. So, as you review yourself and wanna really end with the summary of the whole effort that we’ve been on. It’s really time for you to do an inventory of how often are you aware of your, your feeling state, not just anger, it’s, it’s all your feelings. How often are you able to find your intention to wanna care for yourself and heal no matter what you’re feeling, but especially while we’re in this chapter of anger, we’re gonna focus mostly on how often are you able to feel that when you’re angry and look at the people that you can do it with and look at the people, you can’t do it where you just forget.
Robert Strock: (24:13)
And when you forget, see if you can bring that tone of caring and say, oh good, it’s not that I forgot, it’s that I finally remembered. And now I have a chance to remember and applying the remembering. This at first, when you’re beginning, really is like a lobotomy because you’re being taught to look deeply enough to find yourself, find your wisdom, find your heart and want to live more from that place. Where are you with that? It’s a time for honesty. The most important thing isn’t to appear developed the most important thing is to authentically be right where you are in your development. If you say real quickly, oh yeah, I can find my intention to heal. Don’t be quite so confident. I know I lose it, still I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I, I lose it and you know, you may be better than me,
Robert Strock: (25:13)
yeah. Maybe you can get it in 20 years and never make any mistakes, but all of us are vulnerable until we die. This is a life-long process, it is not a quick fix. And then the question is, how much are you able to move towards your vulnerability when you’re angry? How much are you able to go through that process? I’m aware that I’m angry, I want to care, I’ve contained and I’m able to be vulnerable. How often are you more able to be vulnerable? Now that’s not a hit on being able to be cleanly angry. There are times, especially if you ask your partner for permission, where the best thing to do is to actually express your anger. Vulnerability is not better than anger, but it’s more communicable. It’s more able to be communicated. Feeling your anger is one of the most enlivening things you can possibly do when you’re not acting it out or you’re not acting it in.
Robert Strock: (26:17)
So it’s very, very important that the key is that you value being vulnerable but you also value your anger. And when you really value your anger, it will morph more and more into natural strength and courage of conviction, transforming anger and resistant emotions that we frequently call TARE, as an acronym for transforming anger and resistant emotions. It is an evolutionary step that most of us haven’t made in our lives. And even if we have we’re at various levels of it. It’s something that is not meant to arrive, it’s meant to be an arrow where you’re moving in that direction for the rest of our lives. The world certainly hasn’t made it very often as our history shows all too well. Think about war, think about the epitome of war and how nations not only haven’t been able to be aware of their anger, but they’ve been taking it so far.
Robert Strock: (27:26)
We’ve been taking it so far that we’re ready to kill, cuz we’re so convinced that our own anger and distrust was caused by you. So if you look at both the inside of yourself and the outside world, you realize what a transformation reveals to actually be able to own your own anger, distrust, even your own vulnerability as being you and being able to express your needs and be interested not only in your partner’s needs, which is also extraordinary to say, how can we take care of both of us? What do we both need? Not only what do I need, but what do we both need? That’s the ultimate epitome of TARE, it’s when we come into a place of what do we all need? Not only what do we both need, but what do we all need? And if we all were in a position where we are able to say, I’m in an emotional state and damned if I’m gonna let this lead into murder, homicide, suicide, killing other countries, genocide, we see the stakes are very, very high.
Robert Strock: (28:43)
We need to be able to start with this deep awareness of where we are. It is actually from my vantage point, actually spiritual, it’s deeply religious to be aware of where we are and to want to bring caring to us and to bring that more and more to those closest to us and to an ever-increasing circle of people. So, it’s so important that we forgo the long stories we tell ourselves about how we believe that somebody else caused our feelings and that we go underneath to see ourselves, find our vulnerability, find our clean anger, and find our needs. Find other’s needs, find the world’s needs. We all need the same thing. That’s not to say that there aren’t occasional people that are Hitlers or Putins or Ganghis Khans that are out there. And that’s also not to say that way, way, underneath that they’re not the same as us, but it’s so far underneath that we’re not gonna have a communication with them. But it’s important for us to do our part, to bring ourselves to that inquiry of who do I aspire to be?
Robert Strock: (30:09)
Who am I? How do I move myself in an endlessly moving process toward the best parts of me? How do I move to be for something rather than being against something? How do I move toward my needs rather than against what I don’t like as has been the history of the world. This creates an incredible optimism about the world, about love, about friendships. This is what would allow us to care for ourselves at the maximum level. This is not passivity in any way, as it releases a passion, a humor, a kindness, and a trust as we go more and more inside ourselves.
As you talk about letting go of the stories–and I envision being born into an earlier in so many episodes, but in the last couple of them–the conditioning, uh, and the conditioning that’s been generational. The conditioning that’s been, uh, countries, uh, geography, uh, alliances, um, any place you look. As you speak about this letting go, there’s a, there’s a identification I feel with all of it. That we’re all in the same boat and we’ve always all been in the same boat. And it is letting go of those stories, at the same time it’s recognizing that we’re born into a story without awareness of it. And we grow up, hopefully, becoming more aware.
Robert Strock: (32:09)
Absolutely. It’s so important that we include what is normal and what we’re really dealing with. And it is so normal to believe our story. It is so normal to be in a political party. It is so normal to be proud of our country. God Bless America. It is so normal to believe that we are superior. It is so normal to project our emotions onto other, onto others. It’s crucial that we realize what we’re talking about is very close to a psychological lobotomy that can be brought into stages. It’s not a lobotomy in the moment, in the moment, it’s just little small changes that are so crucial. Everyone is to be celebrated, but it’s also important that we recognize and not be naive that we’re in a world today that is on the verge of killing itself, we’re in a world today that is suffering from global warming, we’re in a world today that’s being intimidated by Putin, that he’ll use nuclear weapons.
Robert Strock: (33:29)
We’re in a world today that has nuclear weapons all over the place. The point is not to be idealistic. The point is to have as many of us as possible, do our own work that can admit that we’re human, we haven’t arrived. Even if we’ve worked on ourselves our whole lives, we are still vulnerable to losing it. And so the best that’s possible is to recognize that our world is endangered, that we can feel the suffering of the world. We can see our own dangers inside ourselves, and we can want to have a certain kind of interruption into that myth of being these feelings that we are our feelings. You know, we all are living in a myth of being a separate self that’s not interconnected with each other. But when we find a place inside that cares, that automatically unites us.
Robert Strock: (34:27)
I’m not talking about some abstract spirituality, I’m talking about in a very tangible way caring unites us in all the different ways. And I’m using caring in the broadest sense, I could use 50 other words besides caring. And so for all of us, my hope is that we leave recognizing that we’re imperiled, that we, we are insecure. That’s healthy, that we’re insecure. It’s healthy, that we’re unsure of ourselves in the absolute sense that we’re aware that we’re unaware and that we recognize that we have a deep and deepening aspiration or intention to care for ourselves, to care for those that we love and to care for the world, and that of all times we’re at a time that it could very well be a matter of life and death for everyone. If there’s enough people that join each other. And, and the other side of our lives, of days in my life right now, with the Foundation we’re doing what we can, in our small way, to reach out, to be caring to those that are in the worst situations in life.
Robert Strock: (35:43)
And there are thousands, tens of thousands of people that are finding each other. That’s a wave of positivity that, that is uniting with each other. We’re living in a world that has this, not advertised, unfortunately it’s not in our media yet in a major way that there are so many tens of thousands of people that are really wanting to care for the environment, care for some kind of unity. And so each of us has a chance as the Moody Blues say, being a small part of a hope, of a love that exists. And my wish and my prayer is that all of us end with that theme, that we are a small part of this love and that we have the tools to keep deepening this. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining Dave and I through this whole series. And it will continue because we have endless articles that will be an extension of Awareness That Heals. That will be, let’s say going into more and more subtlety, both of how we can care for ourselves and the world. And we’ll be bringing the world more into this as well. So thank you again so much for joining us.
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