We all have conditioning, whether we recognize it or not. Layers upon layers of influence from our parents, friends, and culture. We are generally led in the direction where the biggest variable is personal achievement, financial security and family loyalty, and rarely has us focus on some kind of greater interconnectedness to the world. It is so important that our identities grow beyond our immediate circles and recognize that we all need to be responsible because our planet is in jeopardy. Slow down with Robert to ask some central questions we often speed right past. What really would inspire me and allow me to be most connected to myself and others? Am I living the life that I believe is going to be the most fulfilling, especially considering I’m living in the 21st century? Taking time regularly to concisely ask these introspective questions will enable you to follow your own wisdom and become your own authority.
Robert reminds us how crucial it is not to ignore the fact that we are only here for a little while. Acknowledging our mortality can open us up to inspiration and creativity to use our unique talents, time, energy, and resources to create opportunities for ourselves and others and in return find deep fulfillment. We are living at a time when our planet and democracy are deeply threatened. If we do not change our identity as world citizens we are likely setting up a planet that is in serious jeopardy of collapsing. The stakes have never been higher and because of this, we are going to have anxiety, emptiness, and insecurity.
It takes a lot of courage to face our challenging feelings and then to pause so we can be clear what they are telling us. Insecurity shows the desire to feel secure in a variety of areas. It’s a feeling that shines a light on what you need. If you can spend some time with your anxiety rather than rejecting it, like a disease, you have a chance of finding sources of peace and relaxation. Using the Introspective Guides and real examples Robert and Dave invite you to support yourself to open to new depths inside yourself.
Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Robert’s Book, Awareness that Heals
Free Downloadable Introspective Guides
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Awareness That Heals, episode 73.
What we’re proposing is that we take the time where you become your own boss, you become your own authority. You become the own source of your own wisdom because you’re taking time, hopefully on a regular basis, asking yourself: “What is it that really matters and how can I really live a fulfilling life?”
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.
Very warm, welcome to you for joining us at Awareness That Heals. You know, and as I say “awareness, that heals,” for those of you that have been listening to us for a while, I hope it’s very clear to you that the awareness that heals doesn’t mean it’s a complete healing. It means it’s moving you or me or anyone in a direction toward healing. There is a very strong emphasis in these presentations to have it be relative and not be absolute. And so laying a trip on yourself like, well, I’m gonna heal. I’m not gonna be afraid anymore. I’m not gonna be angry. I’m not gonna be anxious–completely delusional, if it’s deep. The deeper it is, the more relative it is. If it’s really superficial, yeah, you might be able to heal something that’s just a momentary thing. So, I really wanna emphasize the importance of not laying that trip on yourself when you’re moving in a healing direction.
That to me is an utterly fulfilling life. And what we’re gonna be talking about today is something that is so central to living a fulfilling life, and as we talked about it in the last episode, we’re distinguishing a fulfilling life from a normal or kind of an ordinary life that can have some fulfillment in it. But what we’re really doing is we’re including our relationship to the world. And that is both the planet and the people in the world that are likely to be less fortunate than us. There may be some people in the audience that are listening that really would qualify as people that are really struggling. And as we did in the last episode, we really talked about the dignity of going for it. And the irony that many people that are in survival struggles have much more of a sense of greater community than people that have wealth who have a much greater tendency to take care of their own and actually not expand as wide.
It’s very ironic and we all have conditioning, whether we recognize it or not. We have loads of conditioning and that’s from our parents, from our parents’ parents, our parents’ parents’ parents, from our culture, from our movies, from our friends. And we’re led in a direction where we’re generally focused on success as being the big variable, rather than some kind of greater interconnectedness that allows us to not only connect with our families, which shouldn’t be taken for granted because there are so many families that are not connected, but also to recognize that we can keep expanding to care for more and more of the world. And that is so important at this time that our identities are not locked into just our families. And we recognize we all need to be responsible that we’re on a planet that is in jeopardy, is in multiple jeopardy with global warming and terrorism and nuclear war and class divisions and democracy being in danger.
We all need to look at our identities and see that normal in the past is going to keep us in jeopardy. And frankly is going to leave us in a position where we may all, or a large percentage of us, and especially our kids, are going to be really facing life and death issues. And in many cases, death, if we aren’t able to turn it around. So, none of us are really liberated in having a direction in life where we’re being pulled, where we are our own guide, where we slow down enough to be able to ask ourselves the questions, what really mattered to me, not just what I, what was I taught, but actually taking the question inside and actually having that question be a central part of our identity. Am I living the life that I myself believe is going to be the most fulfilling life?
If we take that step, we’ve taken a huge step. And obviously the more we listen to it, the more we act on it, the more potential there is. And in order to do that, we need to get outta the tidal wave that may keep us completely busy with our ordinary life. We don’t have time for asking those kind of introspective questions. Now, that is what the norm is, and what we’re proposing is that we take the time where you become your own boss, you become your own authority. You become the own source of your own wisdom because you’re taking time, hopefully on a regular basis, asking yourself: “What is it that really matters and how can I really live a fulfilling life?” And none of us have really been taught, or virtually none of us have really been taught, to really take this time. And so it’s a bit like a lobotomy that if you’re really listening to what’s being said, it bears repeating not only on my part, but on your part, because you’ve gotta create a new groove
that’s not just a mental groove. It needs to be deep enough to where you start to say, this is actually a part of me where I am going to be my own authority. I am going to be the one that’s gonna ask myself questions. I’m not gonna be so caught up in the wave or the nuclear event. That’s our conditioning that takes us into a, a direction that’s driven in a normal life to get normal approval from normal people, rather than being able to drop in and say, what is my unique capacities? What is the direction that are my unique dreams that could lead me to a greater fulfillment? So I’d like to start off today by introducing Dave, my dearest friend for 50 years and my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation.
Thank you. Uh, I look forward to continuing what I consider to be these in depth looks at the Introspective Guide elements and how they apply across the board, really in so many ways. But in many cases with all of us, we all have our unique hits that go deep into us. There is one thing you said I’d like you to briefly, uh, elaborate on and I know, in your practice, this is something you’re very, very well aware of. But it is that irony with the closeness, intimacy, let’s say the healthy intimacy with people of less means or in crisis versus the people of means that don’t seem to have that same capacity developed.
Yeah, it’s a very important, uh, area to explore. And it seems like an irony, but actually it’s pretty easy to understand as to why it’s the case. In the last episode, we talked about people that when there’s a fire or, or an earthquake, a hurricane, a drought that the people have a tendency to band together, and they, they go beyond the normal conditioning of a non-traumatic life and the key ingredient to understand. And I ask you to really bear with me if this is not something you’ve deeply thought about is they’re in touch with the impermanence of life. They’re more in touch with there in a survival struggle, just as people are when they’ve had a trauma. Whether it’s people in a third-world country where they’re fighting for life and death all the time, it seems insane to be living a life where it’s compartmentalized, where life and death isn’t part of life, where it becomes, oh, maybe I’ll deal with it when I’m in my seventies, but that’s so far off.
I don’t need to think about it. Now that’s the norm in our culture, you know, we have a few breakthrough shows on television, like Six Feet Under or Dexter where it helps bring us more in touch with the life and death element. But my experience is that it’s crucial that we don’t ignore the fact that we’re only here for a little while. And if we, if we really live the values that our ancestors have taught us, we’re gonna be missing out on the key ingredients of life. And we’re at a different time where we need to have a different identity where we need to include life and death as a reality, just like the people, which is very likely the majority of people on the planet don’t have opportunities. And if we have opportunities, we have the potential to be fulfilled by being a contributor.
And if we tap into that place, we, we have the potential to have an inspiration, a creativity using whatever unique talents or resources or time or energy. But the key factor is this life and death element that we’re all in. And it being conditioned away from us. We protect our children from being aware of life and death. Oh, no, we can’t have them be aware of that. But when we look closely and as a therapist and as a parent, we see that when kids are five, four-five, six years old, they’re chronically asking about what happened to my dog or what happened to my cat or what happens when you die or are you gonna die? And so we shut it down and it’s so important that we respect that fear of death. And we, we bring it in, in a way that respects that.
And we say, yes, we are all going to die. And yes, we wanna give them some sense of security, so they’re not terrified. And depending on the individual circumstance of our kids, we’re going to want to either encourage them more or just encourage them some. So it’s not a one size fits all, but it is a one size fits all that we’re all facing our mortality. And if we eliminate that, we’re gonna be bringing them back into the conditioning that we’ve all been in. So it’s so important that we recognize that normalcy as an element has suppressed life and death. And it allows us to live in a fairytale world that we can, we’re gonna live as if we’re we’re gonna live forever. I have a recent client that said to me, gee, before I met you, I thought I was gonna live forever.
Now, of course he was joking, but the joke was 90% true. And he knew it and I knew it. And then he became aware that, oh my God, you know, I’m, I’m gonna end up dying with a whole lot of money. I don’t even know where I wanna put it. And so there’s hundreds of trillions of dollars that would save our planet if we were aware of life and death and the horrible position that the majority of the world is in. And the incredible opportunity there is for us to recognize that we are part of a human family and not take that as a philosophy of life, but take that as a reality, because it is a reality. So hopefully that won’t sound like preaching to you. You know, hopefully you can see that we are at a time of facing global warming. We are at a time of facing terrorism.
We are at a time where our democracy is deeply threatened and that if we, as citizens, don’t change our identity, we are very likely setting up a world that will die. So the stakes are so high. It’s not a matter of moralism. It’s a matter of facing reality. And, and it’s also the intent of saying this is not to hit guilt. If this touches your guilt, please know that the intention in bringing this up is to face reality and to make an appeal to your heart and to your wisdom to face the reality we’re in it is almost like we were living in a cartoon. We’re living in a movie where we get to live forever. So of course, why not live like a king? Why not try to live like a king when you, when we’re living in that fantasy, that the King’s gonna live forever.
If there was no death, the stakes would change, but there is death and we are gonna be impermanent. And so are our kids. And so are our grandkids if we have them. And so we want to realize that, yes, some of the most challenging feelings that we’re gonna be talking about through all of these Introspective Guides. We are gonna have fear, we are gonna have insecurity, we are gonna have anxiety. And for most of us, when it relates to death, that’s less unconscious because we weren’t taught to be conscious of it. So today I’d also like to introduce Joel, who’s our engineer, who I have invited because I’ve gotten to know him well enough to know that he has a lot to contribute; whenever he feels like he wants to jump in he has the invitation to jump in. And for those of you that didn’t hear the last episode, Mark, who’s been our engineer from the beginning and he was courageous enough to share his stage four cancer with us and really let us know what he was going through, which contributed to our shows. Joel, also we’re incredibly fortunate to have Joel, not only be our engineer, but be an incredibly inspired individual and a very human individual, who’s very capable of contributing to our show. So Joel, I invite you and welcome you on our show as well.
Joel : (15:48)
Thank you so much, Robert. I just wanted to say that, um, listening to all this, I have a flood of these emotions coming over me. I recently went through a difficult divorce, and I’ve been trying to come to terms with, with my adoption in the fact that I, until recently never knew anybody on this earth that was related to me. So these are just a couple of the things that when the time is right, I will definitely take you up on that. And we’ll get in there and try to get some, some healing. Maybe I can find some, some awareness to those things because I definitely could benefit from that. So thanks for that.
Absolutely. And you have the invitation now and you have the invitation later to let us know what the strongest feelings are that you’re dealing with. And the kind of the context of that. And we, it’s always best if we use real examples of real human beings, and I’m doing my best to do that with the real person not being here. I always have a person in mind that represents somebody that would be common, but your situation is also one that’s so common that you have the invitation now and when whenever feels right. So today I thought we’d start off and maybe finish with looking at one of the most common feelings, but it’s almost like a taboo, like death. You know, it’s just not talked about very much because there’s usually so much shame about the feeling, or so much inadequacy about the feeling, or so much fear about the feeling, that it’s usually not talked about it all–and it’s insecurity.
And from my vantage point, if we don’t have insecurity in life, it means we’re living in a superficial life. If we’re gonna go deep, we need to be opening into new terrains in life. And so insecurity is actually a sign that we’ve gone deeper. Maybe just more deeply into ourselves, but whatever it is, even that is extremely valuable. And so it may sound almost absurd, but hopefully it will sound a new normal as you listen to it, that when you feel insecure, that you’re gonna first want to really recognize, ah, I feel insecure and I wanna give myself a few seconds or minutes, maybe an hour or two, when I’m on my own to say, “I really feel insecure and it’s difficult for me,” rather than just letting it quickly flash through you. Because if you don’t do that, the odds of you being either aggressive and tight or to withdraw are enormous.
And therefore, it’s not the insecurity itself tat’s the problem, it’s the fight or flight reaction that you have from the insecurity. That insecurity shows in itself that it’s a desire to feel secure. It’s a feeling that’s indicating what you need. And so if you really take the time to give it to yourself and notice the word, give to give it to yourself, rather than treating it like it’s a disease, then you have a chance of bringing it into your relationship to yourself. And if appropriate, bringing it into your relationship that it relates to, or maybe multiple relationships. So, it takes a lot of courage to face our challenging feelings and to pause with them. The tendency is to be self-rejecting, which was another series of podcasts that we did where we’re saying, “Oh, I hate this feeling, I can’t stand this feeling,” and so it gets frozen. So then the agitation of rejecting ourselves or the running away from ourselves runs our life. We say, ah, it’s that damn insecurity that caused it? No, it’s not the insecurity that caused it. It’s your reaction to the insecurity that caused it? The insecurity itself is innocent.
Joel : (20:08)
Robert, I wanted to share something that I just became aware of, and that is when I was growing up I was always the smallest kid in the school. And I have now realized, uh, that I’ve suffered from a very deep insecurity about it. And when you said fight or flight, you know, what happened with me was, I saw being a young child and not having a lot of guidance, I saw my way around it to make myself feel better was to act out in violence. Um, so everybody was bigger than me and I was gonna show them. And, um, I grew up kind of with an addiction to violence. I fought all the time. Uh, it escalated, it got bad. I think that that’s the emotion that caused me to do that. There might be some other ones in there as well, but I constantly and still to this day, I overcompensate, I think for my feeling of insecurity by showing others that, you know, I wasn’t gonna take it. Um, and it gave me the security, it gave me a feeling of power that I didn’t have by walking away.
Well, first of all, thank you so much, not only for sharing the insecurity, but also sharing the defense against it and, and the violence, I would like you to clarify, uh, to the audience when you say violence, what that really means. So just, just so that there might not be the fantasy or on the other hand, maybe so I can feel safe and you know that you’re not gonna kill me or something.
Joel : (21:45)
Absolutely. Well, I will put it like this. It seems the world has changed quite a bit since I was a kid, you know, we fought with our fists and sometimes, you know, somebody pulled a knife or something like that. But no, it wasn’t ever to that type of degree. It was a lot of fist fighting, a lot of, um, pushing and shoving and, uh, situational things that escalated into brawls and things like that. So, yeah, I never wanted to hurt others. I’m actually the opposite type of person. But you called me sensitive, you know, and I’ve come to realize that for me, my understanding of it and the people that I knew that were like me, it was their sensitivity that made them violent because everything hurt, everything somebody said hurt my feelings, you know? Right. And, and instead of being aware of it,I just let it escalate into anger. Um, and I guess anger was my reactive emotion.
Exactly. And I want to clarify one thing, because it is so important for everyone to understand this, which is it wasn’t your sensitivity that made you violent. Your sensitivity had a defense cuz you couldn’t tolerate it. You couldn’t accept it. You couldn’t find a healing way to deal with it. So it led to the violence but it didn’t cause it. And so it’s so important. It’s really the key point of this whole, uh, series of episodes that if we are able to be aware of our emotions and not defend against them, they all will lead us to our needs. And if we don’t stay deeply aware of our emotions, and find a place that wants to care for ourselves, and gains the wisdom to ask the question of how, how could I care for myself, but nobody was there to help guide you at that time.
And so you did what you had to do to not experience the intolerable insensitivity to you, but it was the intolerableness or the feeling that you just couldn’t cope with that . That had to feel some power. So separating out the defense from the insecurity, from the insecurity is golden for our audience, because my experience is what you just said is what almost everybody says, which is my sensitivity caused me to do this. And when you recognize no, your sensitivity is really the foundation of the potential to be fulfilled. It’s the foundation of intimacy. So, for example, you know what I have done with clients, with friends, with myself, because of course I go through insecurities as a lifestyle. I mean it’s something that I feel like if I’m not insecure, then I’m just, I’m just living a kind of a boring life.
You know, if you keep stretching, like I know you, you’re a musician, okay. So you, so if you play the same old songs, you’re not gonna be insecure. You write a new one, you, you try to reach out in a new way, you’re gonna be more insecure. So what the first thing would be is having a positive relationship to the insecurity rather than a negative relationship. I am sensitive, it’s hard to tolerate. You’re not denying that it’s hard to tolerate, A part of me wants to go punch somebody out so I don’t have to feel it. Okay, fine. But how could I actually care for myself and not shame myself with the insecurity. Now at school, there probably are not gonna be very many people that know how to be sensitive. And even if you understood what we’re talking about, I still would not encourage you to get a megaphone and say, “Hey, everybody, I’m insecure.”
You know, I still would say, you know what, you may have to resolve this yourself. Or you may have one good friend that you could talk to. But the key thing is is that you, you know, that there’s nothing wrong with feeling insecure. Now it’s also a reflection of a normal society. That’s going to rank people based on their machismo, their handsomeness, their height, their muscularity, their beauty, their wealth, their wealthy family, none of which is earned. You know, it’s like, wow, oh wow, you were really inadequate cuz you didn’t know how to grow yourself. You know, were you short on purpose? You know, were you skinny on purpose? Whatever it’s like when you start asking yourself questions like that it leads to a laugh or a smile and you recognize the innocence of it. But yet you’re still still in jeopardy because you are in a normal society.
So, that’s not to take away the feelings it’s to recognize you don’t deserve to be punished. You don’t deserve to be treated less than. And the reality is you will have to go through extra wounds, so it’s not a crazy feeling. It makes me think of my favorite title of a book at that time. And I don’t remember much about the book, but I love the book because the book was titled the Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, I think. And I thought to myself, God, I wonder what that means. And basically I came to something very similar to where I am now that if you have the courage to be insecure, and to find a way of how can I be secure. Now, what you would come up with, and I am suggesting that step one: okay, I have these feelings of insecurity; Step two: which isn’t really part of our constructive steps is I wanna punch somebody out so I don’t have to feel it.
That’s a defense, you recognize that as a defense. Now, that is humongously evolving to recognize it’s a defense, it’s not just a “natural reaction.” It’s a normal reaction, but it’s not a natural reaction. Then just say, you know what? I wanna find a way to care for myself because if I just act out, A: I might get my teeth punched out back and, B: that’s not really consistent with the original sensitivity, it’s not really going to help me in a way to create well-being or intimacy or fulfillment. So how can I possibly deal with this insecurity? And the answer is gonna be, first of all, hopefully having someone that will teach you that our normal society that is gonna rate people based on those things is a bit sick, it’s sorrowful, the values that we hold as normal values are really disturbed. It’s like what you’re gonna gain credit, cuz you’re six foot two and 190 pounds, and then you’re gonna be more attractive and this and that? It’s insane, but it’s normal.
So that’s the first thing. So you don’t really deserve to be punished, but you still have to face reality. Now it kind of reminds me of what is still the case. Somebody realizes, oh my God, I’m gay. It’s like, oh now I’m really gonna have to be insecure because I’m gonna get attacked, and it’s gonna be unfair, I’m living in a society that is bigoted and prejudiced against people that are not normal. And it’s the same kind of thing you can’t, you can’t just go around advertising it or just striking out, or you’re gonna be shooting yourself in the foot. So you have to learn a certain wisdom. So the question is who can I become, knowing that society in its own values of normalcy is going to treat me as being a bit lesser than? What could I develop? How could I develop?
What’s my potential? What is possible? And in your case you were insecure, but you were also a creative and you probably had a sense of that somewhere by high school or earlier in life, if I developed that, I can develop that as a sense of security and a sense of development and a sense of confidence, which is going to help my feelings of insecurity. And it reminds me actually, I’ll share a very personal thing, when I was in my early twenties, my first sexual experience, which I waited quite a long time, I came very quickly. And oh my God, you talk about insecurity was like, I’m never gonna be able to fulfill a woman, I’m gonna be inadequate, my whole life. I’m screwed. And so that led me to, at the ripe age of 22, of saying you know what, I’m gonna talk about this to every woman, every girl I’m with. And screw her,
I’if she’s not gonna be slow and virtually still, when I enter her, I’m not gonna just come quickly and feel like I’m a complete failure. I’m going to use my communication skills, which I had at that age. And guess what? The first handful of girls I talked to went, God, are you weird? You’re gonna talk about it before it even happens. And I’m saying, it’s not gonna be good for you or me, so why wouldn’t I talk about it? So I had to go through rejection to be able to take care of myself. So someone that has the awareness of insecurity, like you, you wanna be able to share that with somebody and say, this is what I had to go through. And if you’re with someone who’s not gonna be sensitive to you, you are with someone that is the wrong person.
So people that suffer from feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, which is probably two-thirds of us at a significant degree. And it’s usually buried. Well, guess what, you’ve just put a cap on your ability to be intimate with anybody. And so just like I did at 22, I had to go through, uh, a torturous feeling of lack of capacity. And so having a way and finding the selected few people that would be sensitive enough to treat my insecurity, or for you to be able to say, you know, what, if I’m going to meet that with a person that I’m in love with and be able to see, can I afford to share that at the right time? Probably not like me. For me, I had to do it because I knew I had no way to hide. Your situation fortunately, you could hide it.
For me my insecurity spilled over, you know, for lack of better words. And there was no way to hide it. So for me, it was like either crucify myself or bring it out. So I would say, yes, you want to bring that out with anyone that you’re gonna have a deep relationship with. And hopefully you’re going to find somebody that’s going to be sensitive enough to care for you. So thank you for every insecure person out there, which is a lot of people. The ability to be upfront and to see it as a source of intimacy. Because if you’re fortunate, you’re gonna have a partner that’s gonna be able to say, you know what I’ve always felt inadequate, cuz my mother told me that I was stupid or I actually am not very smart in this area or that area. And I could go on and on with the areas that I have insecurities or inadequacies and the ability to share that with good friends, that’s the basis of good friendship. So you’ve given a gift to anyone that has insecurity. And I think in the next episode, we’re gonna go more into insecurity again. And I thank you for that. Dave. . .
Just wanna clarify one thing you said, you said a lot of people listening have insecurity. Are there any people that don’t?
The answer is just looking at life and death. Who, who amongst us doesn’t have insecurity about it. Now a lot of people don’t believe they do cuz they have complete faith. They have complete understanding. They’re enlightened. I’ve lost faith, having gone through checking those past out that maybe there’s two or three people on the planet that have arrived in a place that don’t have insecurity about that. But I’m sure they did. And I’m not confident that there’s anyone on the planet that doesn’t have insecurity. So knowing that, and revering that, and recognizing it as a sign of your sensitivity, especially when we don’t cave into our defenses. So I thank you all. Hopefully you relate to this very personally, and Joel thank you for having the courage to bring not only the insecurity but it’s helpful that you’re brought out the defense against the insecurity too.
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