Host Robert Strock begins by acknowledging that many of us reach a point where we realize that life is not as fulfilling, enjoyable, or satisfying as we had hoped or imagined. We all have patterns of behavior and thinking that we were taught early in our lives. Almost all of us have patterns that prevent the peace and happiness we desire. Strock asks listeners to identify a pattern or patterns that may be reversed to develop a deeper sense of wellbeing. The more honest and aware of our patterns we are and we become, the greater the likelihood that we’ll be able to lessen or eliminate the harm they cause. Little changes in our daily lives can make big differences if we are open to inquiring and listening and responding to our own needs and wisdom.
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 36.
Robert Strock: (00:04)
So, one of the things that I stress is don’t try to get over the feelings, try to be as best as possible, a responder to the feelings. And there’s a lot higher likelihood of being able to develop more caring and wisdom.
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.
Robert Strock: (01:04)
Thanks again for joining us at Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges. So, we’re going to be talking about something that we’ve already done the first couple of episodes of, and that is delving more deeply into wisdom-guidance and how much that can help us break free from this way of, of conditioning that our life steered us toward. And coming back to ourselves to ask ourselves the most important questions and to listen to the guidance and the wisdom and developing that as a central part of our lifestyle or whatever part of our lifestyle you decide.
Robert Strock: (01:58)
And we are really parlaying all the prior episodes that really have led us up to this point where hopefully this is not your first episode. So, I’ll just give the summary that being able to bring our intention to heal with an awareness of what our challenging emotion is always the starting point. And when we can’t feel good, because we’re really in a severe condition, we have our friendly mind that helps us stay centered in the direction of our life, regardless of what we feel. And it’s going to be kind toward us at least in thought as to whatever we feel. And then also appreciating how important it is to see that when we have a challenging emotion, we so often reject ourselves and that’s like triply painful. We have the original challenge, usually not recognized. And then we hammer ourselves or we withdraw heart from ourselves.
Robert Strock: (03:07)
And by seeing our challenges more clearly, and by developing our ability to move toward self-compassion that allows us to prime the pump to move toward our wisdom and then inquiry, which is really asking questions from our heart really moves us, if we really develop it toward questions that are designed to bring our best self into the moment, how can I best care for myself? And all of those are going to move us in the direction where we’re more ready to be able to receive the possibility and the maybe inevitability of access to our wisdom. And we’re not doing this because we should do this. We’re doing this because we have an insight that our life as it is isn’t as fulfilling as we believed it was going to be. I’m going to pause on that one, because I hadn’t actually said that before that usually what leads us to pursue any path is we have an awareness that, you know what life isn’t quite as inspiring, fulfilling, enjoyable, satisfying, as I thought it was going to be. And therefore, I want to take a look at what other possibilities are there. That’s what really leads us into all these kinds of practices and other ones as well. So, I’d like to start off by introducing Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and endlessly long friend on all levels.
Robert, thank you again, uh, for the opportunity to be here and participate. And, um, I look forward to going further into wisdom, guidance and, and how we can access it.
Robert Strock: (05:10)
Great, me too. So going back to the basics, because if we don’t go back to the basics, we’re going to be in an impossible situation, because we can’t even approach wisdom-guidance that is being aware of what it is that is most challenging emotionally to you, or situationally to you and giving that it’s do. That is being aware of being a separate part of you that says I can see it. I can see the emotion and I can see the, the personal challenge that might be there as a situation. Now you might think at this point, oh yeah, we’ve already covered that. I’ve got that covered. But my experience that for most of us, we remain 95% unconscious on this level. We go through life, even those of us that have been practicing this for decades, we have intermittent situations throughout the day where we’re trying to solve something, but we’re forgetting what we’re feeling and we’re not having a relationship to what we’re feeling.
Robert Strock: (06:22)
We’re not learning how to care for our, our feeling. We’re not remembering to have that intention to heal. We’re not remembering to watch out for judgment, and we’re not remembering to inquire at that very peak moment or more accurately, many times hours of that time. So, that’s a great incentive to not get too far ahead of ourselves to not prematurely transcend something that is such a reversal of conditioning that it can’t be underestimated, or I don’t think I can overstate the reminders enough. After a while, we can develop a shorthand with familiar challenges of how we can bring wisdom-guidance into our life, because there are going to be a lot of repeats. Yeah, most of us are going to have patterns that are going to go on for our whole life. And then we’re going to have some that are gonna last for 10 years.
Robert Strock: (07:27)
So, I’m not going to ask for five years. So, one of the things that I stress is don’t try to get over the feelings, try to be as best as possible, a responder to the feelings. And there’s a lot higher likelihood of being able to develop more caring and wisdom. If we can accept the feelings, be kinder towards them and then kinder or, or more focused in our life. So, statements like, again, take note of these because they may sound obvious, but they aren’t obvious when we’re really suffering, relax, and stay receptive. When you normally react, be sensitive and honest about communicating your state with those you trust. I’m going to repeat that once again, this may sound elementary, but how much do we evolve to a next level of communicating and being honest with those that you trust? So, you may look as I’m saying that, is there another level with anybody that you can think of? I could let them know about this and that’s gold that can make the difference between being connected on another level, just from that little wisdom-guidance to a day where you feel disconnected or when you’re irritable or annoyed, you might say to yourself, be harmless and discover what it is you need.
Robert Strock: (09:15)
That’s a humongous shift. Most of us when we are irritable or annoyed, we either acted out or we suppress it, but to actually see it clearly to pause and contemplate and discover how can I realize what I need and maybe even more to the point, how can I activate what I need so I can best take care of myself and not injure the other person. So, even starting to develop this capacity is relatively rare. And I hope that that doesn’t sound judgmental because it really is observational that most people, when they feel angry, they don’t really go too, well did he, what, what, what was it I really wanted that I didn’t get that made me angry or what did I get that I didn’t really want to name the angry and how can I construct this so I can have a better chance of receiving what I need.
Robert Strock: (10:23)
And sometimes it may not be possible with the situation or the person that I’m dealing with. And I need to find a way to guide myself toward inner peace and inner acceptance. One of the features that is pretty evident in working with this practice for a number of decades is that it brings us to a greater access, to being honest, honest with ourselves and honest with the people that we love, because when we see our challenges, we can see that honesty really is. Oftentimes, I’m certainly not going to say even generally, say maybe with those who we trust, I could say generally, but there’s a lot of people that don’t want to hear are, are stinking honesty. Uh, so, but honesty is oftentimes with those that we trust and those that have the capacity quote, “the best policy” and wisdom-guidance is going to make that become more intuitively and existentially obvious.
I want to add one element to that, which is a life will bang us around and teach us as well. Uh, so we believe we can be, and I’ve, uh, had this experience many times, um, cause I’m a little hard-headed in my effort to be what I consider myself to be the best of myself. Uh, the best, honest self I can be. And it’s not well-received uh, so life bangs me on the head and sometimes that means the relationship shifts. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Robert Strock: (12:17)
Yeah. And I’ve been banged in the head. Uh, fortunately I heal pretty quickly or else I’d be dead by now. Um, how many times I’ve banged my head against the wall. And so, it is so important. And I think you’re highlighting this, that we’re not talking about honesty, like as a detached retina, meaning that, that it doesn’t matter who you’re with, you need to look at the environment you’re in and the person you’re talking to and you need to really see your whole relationship and see is this viable? Is this possible? Now I generally say if you’re in doubt, go for it. If you’re in close step, but if you’re quite sure that’s impossible, most likely it’s better to resolve it internally, but I liked little teasers, you know, little lightweight teasers to, to be able to see if it’s somebody that you normally don’t have deep conversation with.
Robert Strock: (13:22)
Yeah. You start with something like how’s work and then you work in, and then you get some kind of a bounce back. And I think it’s worth moving to the edge with the people, you know, but not over the edge. I want to be clear that when you are really communicating a next level with anybody that this is asking a lot, because you’re at the level you are because that’s the level where you feel secure and that you’ve predetermined that this is as far as the person can go. But sometimes that determination is based more on conditioning and fear than reality. So that kind of contemplation, that inquiry, of, is this the kind of person I can say this to, is a beautiful inquiry and it’s a very caring inquiry and you’re caring for both you and the other, if you go deeply into it.
Robert Strock: (14:23)
And if you’re going to, for example, challenge somebody about their challenging emotions or maybe more accurately, if you’re going to address with kindness and consideration, they’re challenging emotions that they have not acknowledged. You got to know you’re playing with fire, but that doesn’t mean runaway, but it means proceed with great caution because if they have challenging emotions like anger, they’re loose with their anger and you’re saying, you know what, I’m really asking you from the bottom of my heart, would you try to be a little less angry that can be like punching somebody in the face? It doesn’t seem like it, but the more insight we gain, the more potential there is to befriend somebody or to really piss somebody off. And so, it’s important to, to proceed with really careful sensitivity. You may even start with something like, do you mind if now’s a good time?
Robert Strock: (15:35)
Do you mind if I share something with you? That’s actually not that easy to share with you. That’s oftentimes a nice way to try to enter in there. So at least it was obvious that you weren’t just being impulsive. Is that, is that clear? I hope that’s clear what I’m saying. As you envision yourself going to another level with somebody and doing it with sensitivity. You know, as I mentioned earlier, it is like real estate analogy of location, location, location, and the only way to really get good at anticipating this is practice, practice, practice that, that we need to practice this a lot to develop our intuition, because if we have almost no hours logged in attempting to expand our ability to communicate, we’re kind of operating blind. We may have some major assumptions where either way that people are way more open or people are way more closed than we think.
Robert Strock: (16:40)
And it depends on our slant, but the key is to try to sensitively experiment when you feel you’re not sure. So, I’ve always been a skeptic, uh, since my earlier years. And it reminds me of back when I was in college and when I was in college, I thought it was really cool to be teasing people, to sort of have a one-up cleverness, get people to laugh at themselves. And it was the beginning of a spiritual practice that I was learning. And I became aware that this was kind of a, an unpleasant way to interact. And so I, so I would say, yeah, you’re really smart to somebody that had questions about their intelligence or somebody that wasn’t particularly funny. Yeah. You’re really funny. You know, things, things like that, that, that other people would laugh, but it would be at somebody’s expense. And I started seeing, yeah, there were a fair amount of interactions that I was doing that, and my ego enjoyed being in a one-up position at that point in that way.
Robert Strock: (17:58)
And so, in my practice, and this really was the very beginning of wisdom-guidance for me, I started asking myself, how do I reverse this? Because this is so instinctive. This is so emotionally the way I’m drawn. And the words kept coming to me, focus on the positive, focus on the positive when you feel that. So, I started to shift from being critical to asking people about their life and what they might be interested in. And I just reversed it, but it was that lightning bolt of focusing on the positive. It’s that simple, wisdom-guidance frequently comes to us in one word, two words, three words that can reverse a whole pattern that’s been going on your whole life. So, as I’m speaking again, look carefully for a pattern that you see might be there in your life. Like for example, you might see, I have a tendency to withdraw half the day.
Robert Strock: (19:11)
And you, you might say to yourself, wisdom-guidance might say to you, you know what every hour go, go in and say hi to your wife, say hi to your husband. Maybe if you feel inclined and feel open, give him a hug. Maybe you proceeded with saying, you know what, I had an epiphany. I realized that this is my norm. This has been my identity up till now. I’ve generally been withdrawn, but I don’t want to do that anymore. Or you might notice, you know what you’ve told me a lot of times, you really don’t like it when I smoke. And I don’t, I don’t clean, clean, my breath. And you realize, you know what, from now on, before I’m close to my partner, I’m going to, I’m going to really, really, really do the mouthwash, brush my teeth, really do it carefully. Those kinds of little humongous things can make the difference between alienation and love. At least during those time periods,
I want to contribute my own version of, uh, what I would call a lifelong pattern that I became aware of, for sure, as early as age 19 and has been with me and is still significantly hauntingly true. Uh, and it’s a version of really looking outward to please others, to others needs, uh, to really not even put myself on the table, my needs on the table. And it’s, I’d like to say because the insight I had at 19, um, so holds true today that one would think after, uh, too many years that I want to admit over 50, that I would have gotten to the root of this. But I’m, I’m guessing that this is a pattern, as you mentioned, in a prior episode, that may be a, uh, layers of onion that will go through the rest of my life. And this pattern is at this stage of my life, uh, really evolving into putting me on the table.
It’s like, it’s, it’s setting a boundary. It’s saying, okay, I got to, I got looking outward, down. Now I need to look inward and put, decide, and hopefully decide favorably to put my boundaries or needs or desires or whatever the case may be out there and take my chances. And it’s been really hard. It’s been a lifelong thing, as you said, automatic, um, you’re able to turn your pattern of, uh, doing what felt right around much more quickly in that particular area, uh, whether you want to call it sarcasm or just being, uh, you know, the smartest guy, the one-up guy, I’ve not been able to pull off overcoming this pattern nearly as quickly. And, uh, but it’s satisfying when it happens. It’s sad as it is a growing satisfaction to see movement.
Robert Strock: (22:31)
As you give us a couple of examples of including yourself.
Sure, um, for example, a current example, I have a son in Australia who I can’t visit, who cannot visit me because of the rules of the road with COVID and Australia. And he will, from time to time zoom me, or he will, from time to time FaceTime me. And a few weeks ago, I became aware I would like more of that. Um, and so this is a very simple example, but for me it was it’s important to let him know I wanted more of that. Now he may or may not be able to do that, but the important part of it for me was to put it out and not just assume anything about his response, you know, just as, just as a valid thing that I feel it’s, I’m going to put it out there. Uh, in this case, thankfully has resulted in him coming more forward with more opportunities for, for me to see, uh, a grandson that was born five weeks ago, uh, that I cannot be with, I would be with if I could.
Robert Strock: (23:49)
So, uh, I’ll give you one more example of something that you’ve done. Um, and I, I don’t even know whether it was conscious, which makes it better. Um, and that is, you used to be a slave to your phone, no matter who was calling, you had to take care of them no matter who you had, you had to answer every call. And now, now you don’t, and that’s, uh, a really tangible example of, I would say, you are 99% available. And I would say, now you’re 40% available. And, and, and that, that is really making you more of a priority and, and doing what you want to do. So, I think that’s a very important piece.
I do appreciate that. Uh, I, it is hard for me. Uh, it is hard not to answer phone calls, to not immediately answer a text or an email or whatever the over the years a form of communication may have been. And, uh, it is liberating.
Robert Strock: (24:52)
Yeah. And I think it’s important for really, for everyone listening that this is the exact opposite pattern of 90% of people. I mean, there’s maybe 10% of people that have this over, uh, giving, you know, and when I’m not as nice to Dave, I, I call it codependency, uh, and not, and not overgenerous because overgenerous sounds too good. So I, I like to be a bit of a hard-ass. Um, but, but most people are in the exact opposite position where they just think of themselves and they don’t think of the other. And so, it doesn’t matter what your patterning is, what matters is paying attention to your pattern. Meaning when I say it doesn’t matter, I mean, it matters in terms of making the adjustment, but no matter what pattern it is, if it’s not serving your life, it’s crucial to be aware of it. And then to ask yourself the questions of how do I move toward balance, and then to act it out. And every time you do it, there’s going to be uncomfortable feelings like fear or anxiety or, or guilt. And then you need to have a relationship to those feelings and say, it’s perfectly natural that I have these feelings. I’ve, I’m going through a transition where I’ve made changes and, and good on me that I’m able to, to cope with it.
I think what you just mentioned is so important and, uh, to paraphrase or directly quote a, the name of an album of our favorite favorite music group, it is a question of balance. It really, really is. And that is very hard to understand what the truth of that balance is, and not be fooled by things. We already have been conditioned to believe.
Robert Strock: (26:41)
So, question in balance rings a bell. Uh, we, we have been moody blues lovers for a long time. So as we’re winding down, one of the things that I still go through, uh, as a result of the transplant medications, is that I wake up every morning, completely exhausted. Like I’m 110 years old, and that’s on a, that’s on a normal morning. Uh, then it sometimes gets more severe than that. That’s, those are my good mornings and what I’ve done, what wisdom- guidance has suggested for me is how do I, first of all, how do I best take care of myself? And basically I changed my whole life because of it. And the last five years, and I was a little slow actually, because I went through 15 years where I didn’t change my life as much where I don’t start my day in any significant way until usually 11 o’clock.
Robert Strock: (27:43)
And so, I just lie down, look out the window at the beautiful view I have, I put my hand on my heart, and I just have no pressure. And it’s important that the normal achieving mind or the normal functioning mind sees that for me to just allow a focus on relaxing and not achieving anything is kind of, it’s kind of similar to Dave, not answering the phone, you know, where, where you’re breaking a pattern. And at first it doesn’t feel completely natural, but then you realize in your own unique life. And again, I want to encourage everyone that’s listening to see, well, what’s that pattern that maybe I could go the opposite way that would really allow me to have greater peace, uh, health, uh, any kind of well-being. And if you think, if you can’t think of one, keep asking, because I assure you that none of us are patterned free.
Robert Strock: (28:57)
And the more honest and aware we can be of our patterns, the greater chance, like could be really interesting. It’s not going to be repetitive. Oh my God, we have a chance to actually turn a different corner. We have actually a chance to change our daily lives. We’re never going to get too old. Well, maybe we will, maybe, maybe on our death bed, it’ll be a little hard to change, but maybe we can change a thought. But the point is, there really can be an inspiration that the little changes matter a lot, and that we’re all capable of asking them if we’re open to inquiring and to listening to what we’re hearing, which is certainly what I wish for all of us.
Join The Conversation
Thanks for listening to Awareness That Heals. Please click subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, the best way to help spread the word is to rate and review the show. This helps other listeners, like you, find this podcast. We’re deeply grateful you’re here and that we have found each other. We encourage you to download our Introspective Guides at awarenessthatheals.org; they will be helpful to you while listening to our podcast.
Visit our podcast archive page