Increase Your Quality of Life One Awareness at a Time – Episode 64

Increase Your Quality of Life One Awareness at a Time - Episode 64In this episode, Robert and Dave wrap up their focus on the key practices. They continue to illuminate the link between our most challenging feelings, the situations we face each day, and how to identify the needs to guide us toward healing and wellbeing.

It is important not to get this path confused with being a seeker of perfection. That seeker is really a form of rejection, rather than genuinely making our best efforts in a natural way. We are looking to hold two ideas at the same time. One is being aware of our greatest challenges at any given point in time. The other is moving in a direction that our needs will guide us. This may sound simple enough, but these are major grounded and inspirational steps together. We will virtually never fully arrive, especially if the issue we are facing is not superficial, and that is okay. It is not a realistic aspiration to extinguish these kinds of challenging feelings completely.   

We are being encouraged to ask ourselves, what challenging emotion(s) are you facing right now?  Which are the most significant? As you look to identify them, see which need(s) is going to be most healing and supportive of your well-being. It is vital to be aware of our inner tone to have additional trust and strength that you are going to support whatever needs to be activated both inside and outside. We can learn how to be best friends with ourselves by experiencing our challenging emotions consciously and responding by following through with our most helpful needs. As we can take some steps in that direction we can also help those we love to do the same as we bring this process and awareness into our lives.

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

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Announcer: (00:01)
Awareness That Heals, Episode 64.

Robert Strock: (00:04)
I can just tell you that the unconscious is like a magnifying glass. It’s just going to expand it. It’s gonna make it come out more. If you bury it, it grows.

Announcer: (00:17)
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: (00:58)
Thanks so much for joining us again at Awareness That Heals where we’re focusing and doing our best to focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. And for those of you that have been with us in prior episodes, you will know this is an understatement that we start again and again, with being aware of what is most difficult for us and use this awareness of our life’s difficulties, which are universal for all of us to help guide us, to learn how to care for ourselves at these critical times. This combination sets out 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.

Robert Strock: (01:57)
And today we’re going to wrap up our focus on the key practice. That’s helped thousands of people to make a simple link. And again, when I say a simple link, that doesn’t mean easy link, by the simple to understand link between our most challenging feelings and situations we face each day and how to move toward healing and well-being. This in my experience is a grounded, inspirational way to live. And I use the word grounded because inspiration is often thought of as just pure rising bliss or rising epiphanies, but in order for it to be grounded, we need to face these challenges that we all have. And if we just have inspiration without facing our challenges, we’re living a compartmentalized life. And as we’ve covered in so many other episodes, there are lots of people who are inspired in one way, in our nightmares in another way.

Robert Strock: (03:21)
So, it starts with authentically facing what is difficult and then doing our best to see how this can naturally lead us to inquire. How do I, how do you, how do we, best take care of ourselves? So, I’d like to start off today with introducing my 50-year long closest friend. And if you were with us a few episodes ago, as, as he highlighted doesn’t mean we get along all the time. Doesn’t mean we don’t fight sometimes, doesn’t mean, you know, that we agree after the fight. It just means that we have a foundation of love and trust and diversity of experience that allows us to contain the humanness that we both experience, too. And also, he’s the partner, my partner, at the Global Bridge Foundation.

Dave: (04:20)
Thank you, Robert, and as these episodes on feelings to needs, which is really so, uh, in a way a culmination and, and a, a real foundation that’s been built to, uh, to understand it. I, I reflect upon, uh, life with living one side or the other, or unaware of both, which of course in my life, uh, and I think for many of us, um, as we come into the understandings that we’ve been talking about here, we, we recognize the parts of our life, where we had no understanding, we had no awareness. Um, I myself came from a, a place of obliviousness to my challenges and my needs, both moving along in that pre-programmed, uh, performance that you described in the last episode where, uh, I pretty much knew how it was gonna work out, or I thought I knew until that cart was turned over and that was, uh, both enlightening and painful, uh, and inspiring. It was all kinds of different things that occurred as that happened. And so, I appreciate getting to this point in the episodes, in the podcast and solidifying this in this last one on feelings to needs.

Robert Strock: (06:06)
Thanks, Dave, what I’d like to really highlight, which is so important. Two things. One is for almost all of us, it’s going to be a new awareness that we have significant challenges and that we have significant needs. And secondly, as you heard, if you listen carefully to Dave, Dave, wasn’t putting himself down for it. Dave was acknowledging the truth of it. And hopefully that message is really underscored, no matter where you find yourself right now. If this is brand new or you’ve been doing it for 20 years and you still suck at it in your own eyes, it doesn’t matter, what matters is, it’s never too late to start again and be really interested in what are my challenges and what are my needs. And hopefully you can hear an inkling of a joy or an inkling of a happiness or an inkling of a leaning into wanting to discover my challenges and my needs. And that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be confused with, oh man, I love my challenges. No, that’s not what I’m saying. Like anybody else, I start off with an instinctual reaction to hating horrible feelings, but after working on it for a long time, that doesn’t last as long, but it’s really organically conditioned into us that we should feel good and we shouldn’t feel bad. And usually non-verbal, we’re given the message. If you don’t feel good, don’t say anything. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Robert Strock: (08:11)
And that leaves us pretty close to death, dumb and mute . And I don’t mean dumb in the pejorative way, but just basically not clued in. So it’s again, never too late to take great interest in what’s challenging and it doesn’t get old. There’s no aging when it comes to challenges. Challenges are gonna be there, in fact, it might be like good wine. The challenges are very likely to get more as we get older. And so, the practices become more important as we get older, because we can learn how to take care of ourselves. We can learn how not only we want to be friends with best friends, with ourselves, but how we can tangibly take some steps in that direction and how we can help those we love do the same after we start to integrate it into our life. So, I’d like to start off with asking you, with the assumption that you’ve listened to some of the other episodes on feelings to needs and perhaps some before that. To just ask yourself right now, what is the one challenge? Whether it’s a situation or a feeling or a feeling about a situation and a situation that is facing you right now, and as you look to identify it, see how your attitude is.

Robert Strock: (10:01)
See whether you’re doing it with neutrality, with pessimism, optimism, peace, aggravation, and see if you can upgrade the looking for the one challenge that you have right now in terms of feeling or situation or both. And see if you can have some reverence, some basic trust that you’re on a track of integrity, of honesty, of career, courage, of humility. See if you can crisply identify what that challenging emotion is. And there could be two or three, but somewhere between one and three, keeping it simple. And if you can, if it’s not genuine, don’t do it. But at least since it’s good, I can see it because if I can’t see it, it’s gonna be put in the unconscious or more accurately is already put in the unconscious. And I can just tell you that the unconscious is like a magnifying glass. It’s going to expand it. It’s gonna make it come out more. If you bury it, it grows. It’s like putting a seed in the earth, except it’s in your unconscious. So, see if you can at least be neutral or if you’re negative, at least be not very negative. And if you’re positive, let yourself appreciate it as much as you can that you can see it.

Dave: (11:51)
I just want to really expand one more thing about that, and for me at least, and I think for most of us, we have an area like this in our life. For me, it’s been, and of course, those of you that have been listening for a while know that I’ve, I, have, anxiety seems to be a theme that has recurred in my life. And, uh, sometimes with an exaggerated sense of a situation that doesn’t warrant what I’m feeling, sometimes it does. But in all cases, uh, I’ve gone through the series of things you’re describing where it’s, I hate feeling this, of course, who would wanna feel it at the same time, eventually with, with a lot of hard work, appreciating that, oh, hello, hello to my anxiety. I can understand why this would be the case. In fact, this very moment, there’s a medical result pending in my world. That matters to me deeply.

Dave: (13:14)
And in particular, what I’ve, what I’ve come to understand is I am not ever these days, I recognize that it’s not a realistic aspiration to extinguish that feeling to completely say, I have a goal to never experience anxiety. Uh, it is a coexisting with it, certainly. It is a lot of things, but I would really appreciate if you would speak to that, help us understand the difference between recognizing a challenging feeling and an underlying need, while also at the same time, appreciating that we may have an ongoing relationship with a certain set of challenging emotions that we, in our life, have been conditioned to feel, and that they don’t ever go to zero forever.

Robert Strock: (14:24)
So identifying the question as something like, isn’t it inevitable that we’re never gonna fully arrive and that we have patterns and that, and that we’re always gonna have some human element, like a part of you doesn’t like anxiety and a part of us doesn’t like whatever our most difficult emotion is, but that doesn’t mean that a dominant percentage, a very, in some cases, a very dominant percentage can be on, be on our side, could be supporting us, but that we’re not gonna get over it. And that we don’t wanna be fixating on the last 5% or the last 10% or the last 20% that we wanna accept the fact that we still gonna be human. And I appreciate in particular that you’re outing the anxiety as a feature, as all of us need to do, you know, with whatever we’re going through. And those have, that have heard me in prior episodes have heard the 10 years of hell.

Robert Strock: (15:29)
And also, every morning I go through feeling exhausted, helpless 110 years old is how I feel. And periodically through my months, I have impatience intolerance expressed in certain ways that I have to catch after the fact that I’m nowhere near clean. I try to clean up my mess. I’m committed to cleaning up my mess, but I know I fail at that too, but we’re all work in progress and none of us are gonna arrive. And knowing that allows a certain peace, this is not an effort to be for those of you that are old enough to remember the commercial, Mr. Clean, which was a wild and crazy white, white ghost-like figure, who is frantically going around and making everything perfectly clean. That’s not who we are, and that’s not who will ever be. We’re all going to be human forever. What we’re attempting to do is increase the percentage, move in a direction toward caring toward healing, toward well-being. And that we recognize that life is an opportunity to experience a quality of life, a blessed opportunity that the best of my knowledge, I don’t know where it came from, but I know that quality of life makes sense. And I also know that there’s always gonna be a small, small, or bigger part of me that’s gonna be nowhere near perfect. And frankly, that’s gonna be, if I get, really the, the magnifying glass out, my only question is, is it hourly or daily? My imperfections.

Robert Strock: (17:29)
And so, what we’re really focusing on is the possibility for all of our quality of life to move in the direction that we would most aspire, that we would most pray for, that we would most wish on other people. And that that aspiration is really what feelings to needs is about. And that we’re not getting confused with being a seeker of perfection, because we’re realizing that that seeker of perfection is really a form of rejection. So, we’re looking to hold two ideas at the same time. One is to move in a direction that’s gonna support us. And another one is an awareness that we’re at one level, not gonna make it. And that that’s okay.

Robert Strock: (18:20)
So, our awareness of our challenging emotions gives rise to the capacity to care for this part of ourselves that we, for most of us, normally ignore or judge. And whenever we’re able to be in this challenge and simultaneously inquire into what we need and stay interested, that is a miracle that is, that is really living our lives and potentiating our lives. And it is one of the main definitions of what I would use for having a sense of purpose. And it’s especially truer and truer as we learn to do it for ourselves. And as we’re able to move that towards others, and it is a natural, organic thing. We’re not talking about building ego, we’re talking about building quality. And when we have a quality of life like love or empathy or trust or forgiveness, it naturally wants to give itself away. It’s contagious, it’s positive contagion.

Speaker 2: (19:55)
It’s the exact opposite of COVID. We wanna spread it to whoever we can, when we really feel it that we care about. And hopefully again, we generally are caring about more and more people. So again, I wanna emphasize two appearing to be contradictory points. One is that it’s an incredible breakthrough, whenever we can simultaneously, face what’s that challenging feeling or situation and ask ourselves what we need and activate responses that can guide us. That’s one. The second one is that almost all the time, it’s either not gonna happen, especially at the beginning, or it’s gonna happen after the challenging feeling’s been there for a while. So it’s an aspiration to have it be simultaneous as much as possible, but it’s an understanding and a perspective to realize that to even be able to come back to what you need a minute later, five minutes later, or even the next day, and for beginners the next week or the next month or the next year, whatever it is, being able to shorten that time between when we’re challenged and when we’re really interested in how we can best take care of the need or the situation.

Robert Strock: (21:32)
And you’ll notice I’m saying the need and the situation, cuz I’m generalizing it. Now that we’re moving toward the end of feelings to needs, to challenging feelings and challenging needs, not only of ourselves but of the world and that the world itself also needs and needs us to see these challenges and to focus on the needs and of the world to survive of people that are impoverished have opportunities. And that we see that this aspiration, this interconnectedness, does nothing but add to our potential quality of life. When we organically grow from inside ourselves and take care of ourselves, at least at these genuine beginning levels.

Robert Strock: (22:28)
So, In summarizing really the feelings to needs and what really came before it, I’d like to end this theme by going through really the beginning podcasts, the beginning themes all the way through the present, starting again with not only the awareness of what’s most challenging, but also having this awareness be experienced in a way that is at least neutral, that isn’t pejorative. And it might start with being pejorative, but being aware of our challenging feelings as being an evolutionary step. And then from there recognizing that this awareness of our challenging feelings and situations requires us, if we want to have quality of life, to who evoke a part of ourselves that wants to care. Now we might be in an identity that doesn’t think we’re a caring person. And we think that’s who we are.

Robert Strock: (23:51)
I don’t buy it. I think that might be our conditioning. That might be who we’ve been up till now, but it’s never too late to develop this second step of developing this intention, this wanting to care, this wanting to move into a sense of well-being. And then we move into when we’re at our very most challenged and as we’ve highlighted, it frequently will happen to all of us when we age and we’re facing loss of capacity, serious illness, death, and dying loss of friends, loss of family that we can develop a wise mind and we can deal with it on a wisdom level because we can’t change those feelings because they’re too existential. We can’t change those kinds of deep, deep-seated feelings, but we can change what it guides us. So, we learn how to follow our wisdom at those times of greatest challenge,

Robert Strock: (24:56)
and let’s say even catastrophe. And then we move from there to see that when we find challenging feelings, almost none of us like any of them. And we have an instinctual reaction says I don’t like that. I hate it. That revolts me. I can’t believe I’m not over it by now. And we see that that’s a form of self-rejection. And we also see that if we just disassociate from it, it’s a form of withdrawing, which is another way of rejecting ourselves, cuz we’re not bringing our heart or our attentiveness to the challenge. And then we move from there to realizing under all the forms of challenging feelings that we wanna develop our ability to inquire, to ask questions that are asking questions from our heart that are designed to move us towards our well-being. There are questions that are not questions that are veiled judgements, like what’s wrong with you?

Robert Strock: (26:00)
What’s your problem? No, we’re asking what would be needed to help me. So, there would be questions that are supporting our well-being and then we move from there to listening to what the guidance is. And we recognize that leads us to a certain kind of wisdom, certain kind of practical wisdom. I don’t mean wisdom like woo-woo, you know, esoteric wisdom. I mean nitty gritty, meat and potatoes wisdom, where it’s just letting us know this is how we can best take care of ourselves. And that’s gonna appear in a zillion different, unique ways. And every circumstance is gonna be unique. And then we move from there to recognize how important tone of voice is, both the inner tone of voice, of how we speak to ourselves, think to ourselves and how we speak to others and how important it is that we imbue those tones of voice with heartfelt qualities like kindness, warmth, courage.

Robert Strock: (27:14)
And then we move from there to where we are currently, where we move into identifying our feelings and as close to as possible, to simultaneously identifying the core needs that will help us be guided best in the unique situations or unique feelings that we’re experiencing. And by doing that, we’re putting one little pebble at a time of expansion, of our quality of life. And we’re getting a sense of, oh, this has to be related to our purpose of life, to increase our quality of life. And as we develop, we see this is improving quality of life, the quality of life, and it is interconnected and we do get to, not have to, not should, but we get to give this to those around us, to a country that badly needs it, to a planet that badly needs it, to a group of people that don’t have opportunities that need to be given opportunities. And that we can face these life challenges, not only our own, but global ones as well and respond with informed, specific, essential needs that are going to support ourselves, our close ones, our world, and the people in the world that most need it.

Robert Strock: (28:55)
So, we’re going to be going from here to, in a certain way, dealing with a category of feelings to needs next, which is transforming anger and all the other resistant or similar types of emotions like impatience, intolerance, irritation, and how do we transform those feelings by first being aware of them, finding the intention to heal, going through the same process I just mentioned. How do we transform those feelings in a direction toward strength and intimacy? And I hope that you’ll join us for that. Very important, very essential, especially as we see it in the world today, where we see that anger is so activated in our country and our world today, how much this applies to the personal and the active. And I hope that you’ll join us in how to pivot from our anger and similar feelings toward a peace, a strength and an intimacy that both we need and the world around us so badly needs. Thank you very much.

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