Pretty much everyone you talk to these days has some emotions related to the country, gun control, global warming, or the war in Ukraine with an awareness of being overwhelmed. What isn’t reliably there is the question, Do I want to care for this emotion and How can I navigate in the world with some positivity? Robert and Dave will continue their focus from last week with specific challenges unique to the anxiety, fear, anger, and terror many of us are experiencing in response to the dire problems facing the planet and the increased authoritarianism in the world today. If more people were committed to what their needs were and not committed to their emotions, it has the potential to start the stepping stones to stop war and start much needed contemplation. Instead of being dominated by our emotions, we would be dominated by our wisdom and our hearts.
Robert continues to use The Introspective Guides as a tool to navigate a path towards integrating what challenges us individually. Starting with caring for ourselves, and our loved ones and then exponentially moving our concern outward into our communities, country, and the world. It can feel easier to avoid and not to be aware of, what some people would call burdensome work, but it is through this journey our most fulfilled selves become accessible. Using the lists of 75 Needs and Emotions, found at AwarenessThatHeals.org, can help make what can seem like a grandiose task achievable while this process becomes familiar. Keep developing a courageous honesty with yourself, get ready to dive in, and together let’s find a way to work toward greater peace.
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 84.
Robert Strock (00:03):
Having your thoughts changed is fantastic. You being pregnant with new thoughts, you teaching yourself how to move from panic to fear, to trust, peace, courage. That’s a little mini miracle.
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 (01:04):
A very warm welcome again to Awareness That Heals where we really focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. We start again and again with being aware of what is most difficult for us. Now I wanna emphasize that sounds like something we would normally do in life, but my experience, even as a therapist, is that that’s a radical notion even in therapy. So please don’t just listen to that passively. Are you looking at what is most difficult for you? Have you identified the one or two things that are recurring, so you can work with them? So that’s what we’re focusing on and I guarantee you that these difficulties are universal for all of us. And then we’re also focusing on how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times. It’s that very unique combination where it’s almost like we’re in a race and we’re moving in a direction and then suddenly it seems like we have to have incredible breaks and move in the other direction.
But it’s not quite that hard, but it is that abnormal. Very, very few people really as a lifestyle are looking at what’s most challenging and how can I really care for myself and those around me at the same time, and especially not audiblizing it—having that be part of the dialogue. I’d be hard-pressed; I don’t have any parents that taught their kids that at the same time or modeled it as a lifestyle. Living this way sets up 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. Today we’re gonna continue to focus on the Introspective Guides again, as they are the simplest way I found to start the path toward integrating what challenges us individually and how we can best take care of it. It is so easy to just run away or avoid it. And as we did in the last episode, we’re gonna keep the focus on our challenges that we’re specifically having toward our country’s fight for democracy and the world. So before we get started, I’d like to introduce Dave my dearest friend for over 50 years and my partner at The Global Bridge Foundation.
Thanks, Robert. One important thing I’ve been thinking about and I think it’s important in light of looking at the Introspective Guides and 75 different emotions, it can feel like a lot. It can feel like I look and I want to turn away. It’s just easier to not be aware. It’s just easier not to do the moment-to-moment what some people would call burdensome work to figure out what is underneath the feelings that are uncomfortable. And I’d appreciate if you’d address that tendency, that view, whatever words would come for you, cause I think it’s really common.
Robert Strock (04:31):
The way I guide people to use the Introspective Guides is literally to circle only the ones that are most applicable to their life currently. And like for example, as it would relate to this episode, only the ones that are most provoked to do with the world and the country. And so it may be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, but you don’t keep looking at the list. In reality, I have not found it to be very difficult if somebody actually does that. If somebody keeps looking at the list, yeah they’re gonna drive themselves crazy. It does require a degree of discrimination cuz you could say, gee, I’m all 75. But there’s no way you’re all 75 at the most important significant way. Now if you can’t do that, then you definitely need a guide or therapist, a friend to help you do that. Most people would have a friend that would say, You know what, if I was gonna pick the top three or five for you, these are the top three or five I would pick.
So you really have to narrow it down and it goes along with what we were talking about in the last episode of staying with what’s possible. And I don’t want to get too shrinkish, but it may be that the unconscious is looking for a way to avoid even those two or three by saying I can’t handle it because I’m, oh my God, it’s so overwhelming to look at 75. Maybe you don’t wanna deal with a two or three, you don’t really wanna zero in, but my experience is at the most it’s five, but it could be one. And looking at more than five at once is pointless. So the reason why the 75 is to give you plenty of choices and I would recommend circling them and they can be changed. You can have plenty of copies of the guides and a month later they’ll change.
A circumstance will come in and change it. But if you really wanted to get subtle, you might have a triangle for the one that’s number one. You might have a square for the one that’s two, but you pick out number one, you know, find a way of, maybe you color it in red, but you really don’t allow yourself to set yourself up to be overwhelmed. So you really need to narrow it down. So it’s a really good question, really good point. So, starting with sort of something like that, I’d like you to look at your own reactions so far and if you didn’t listen to the last episode, I’ll summarize it for you and then look at what your reactions are to that. Because what’s important isn’t, isn’t me at all, other than how much you take in and what you take in and whether there’s anything worthwhile for you.
So, look at your reactions to the idea of having any challenging emotion, whether it’s fear or anxiety or terror or being overwhelmed or angry, and finding a place where you can write during it where you realize you wanna care. Do you think that’s possible for you? Have you written yourself off already? Say, oh, that’s a nice theory, probably would work if you could do it, but I can’t do it. Or, do you think, wow, that would really be a challenge and maybe I could do it if I dedicated myself to it or yeah, I’m ready to dive in. Where are you? Be honest. Are you even applying it to yourself? Or you’re just looking at some theoretician coming up with some theories as to how to deal with life. The most important thing is how you are relating to what’s being said. I can speak by myself all the time, it’s worthless.
What’s worthwhile is doing exactly what I’m talking about, which is when I have my feelings, it is Pavlovian right now, when I’m angry, it doesn’t take more than 10 seconds to have another voice that’s saying, you know what, you don’t wanna stay here longer, you’re gonna be creating damage. You know, wanna find a way to work toward peace. But again, more importantly, where are you and see how that morphs as we’re going along. Are you more motivated, for example, just even to the first step of being aware of your one or two most challenging emotions? And let’s just make it one or two, just to relate to what you’re saying, Dave. Let’s say we’re only circling one or two, so we keep it playable and so it isn’t automatically overwhelming and it is very overwhelming in one way to see, that, you know what, when I start to get really afraid, I don’t have a voice that says how do I care for myself?
Or, an equivalent, I don’t care about my words. A heart that opens or some kind of chanting or something that’s going to shift the gear from just being in the emotional state to steer your attention toward what you need and what is needed in that situation. How do you relate? Are you relating? How much do you look at your challenging emotions? Look right now, be honest with yourself. And maybe you can even see, you know what, I skipped this one. I have it. I’ve always had anxiety, but I don’t really look at it, I don’t really notice it. Or, I feel rejected, but I tell my whole life not to feel rejected, so I don’t really feel it very much. Or look at the one or two that are most significant for you. See if that’s automatic, see if that’s natural, and then see if the idea of really setting up your life to be motivated, to want to care, to wanna find wisdom, to wanna find yourself being moving in the direction of your heart.
And again, I wanna be very careful here. We’re not talking about having a lobotomy of moving from fear to courage. Boom, boom. No, we’re talking about fear and accepting the fear and maybe finding some courageous elements that you can move toward. And in this episode, we’re talking about it only as it relates to the world and the country and your individual emotions as they exist. Now everybody I’m talking to these days has emotions related to the country or global warming or Putin and Ukraine. And pretty much everybody I’m talking to has an awareness of what the emotion is or the moving to being overwhelmed, counting that as an emotion. But what isn’t there is that question of do I want to care for this emotion and how I can navigate myself in the world? Or you ask the question if it’s not obvious or if it is obvious, you say, well of course I wanna shift gears from one-dimensionally just feeling this suffering about the country and the world.
Now that alone, if it was really done, would’ve prevented war. It would’ve had people say, I want peace, I’m angry and I have to work out the details of how we have peace. If this was really a war game and people were committed to what their needs were, not committed to their emotions, it would stop war. If we could really get the leaders of the countries to do this and commit to it and the countries to support them. I don’t wanna forget the countries, you have to have all the players to support them. Then we would as a mass world, change our history, change what it means to be human. Instead of being dominated by our emotions, we would be dominated by our wisdom and our hearts. And so as we look more and more into this episode of what specific feelings are yours and how much you’re motivated to find a place that wants to care and identifying what the needs would be and having it be realistic and possible.
Cuz, I would say in general, if this isn’t familiar territory for you, that having your thoughts change is fantastic. Even if you don’t manifest anything outside in the world, you being pregnant with new thoughts, you teaching yourself how to move from panic to fear, to wanting to move toward trust, wanting to move toward peace, wanting to move toward courage. That’s a little mini miracle just as it relates to the country. You then become a thinker for the well-being of the country. And your intuition, your intelligence, your awareness is focused on that. So the point here is not to get grandiose. On the other hand, if this is very familiar to you or you’re not being overwhelmed by challenging emotions, then you have a challenging emotion, you naturally are going for what can I do? And there are many people that are doing that as it relates to the world, there are all kinds of organizations that are committed to peace and are committed to well-being.
There are all elements of the parties that exist. There are people all throughout the world that really think this way. And matter of fact, my view is this is almost automatic in the fields of almost every country in the world where, well, I don’t feel like working today. I’m scared about the world, but I’m gonna farm today, I’m, I’m gonna go out in the village and do that. And not only that, I’m gonna give a decent vibe to the guy that’s farming next to me. It’s more intuitively obvious to people. It may not be intellectual that they’ll think about it intellectually. They’ll just do it, that’s fine. The intellect doesn’t matter unless it’s not organically natural instinctively. The intellect is a substitute for the instinct not being programmed that way. So look, keep looking at yourself and where you lose faith. Do you lose faith before you even look at yourself?
Do you lose faith when you’re asking yourself to move in a direction toward supporting the country? Do you lose faith when you identify the need? Do you lose faith when you’re trying to figure out how to implement the need that’s possible? Do you use faith when you can’t even figure out what’s possible? So that’s really important. Where is your stopping point and what would the next point be in the sequence? What would be the steps? Remembering always staying with the possible. So the premise, just to give it a structural outline, is awareness of the challenging emotions, the intention to care, and then the awareness of what is the need for the country and for the world that you want to move your caring toward. So instead of being a force against the bad elements of the world, which many of us are, and of course almost all of us are going to have fleeting feelings at least of that, we’re shifting it toward how can I move toward healing?
For example, we might say, can I really communicate with MAGA Republicans? Now maybe it’s your husband or maybe it’s your wife. And maybe in a situation where they’re MAGA Republican light, ya know where they’re, they’ve got a little opening somewhere, but maybe there is a place there. Or maybe it’s making peace with them, showing your love and you still love them. And maybe it’s just fostering love, but maybe it’s recognizing I’ve gotta channel my communication elsewhere. I’ve gotta channel my thoughts elsewhere. I’ve gotta channel my conversations elsewhere because it’s just gonna end up being a power struggle. So every situation is crucial individually for you to be applying this. One of the key things is looking and seeing, do you have a rationalization as to why this isn’t important to say, ah, this is a philosophy; oh, this is psychology; I’m not into psychology or; ah, what can I do,
I can’t do anything, I’m only one person; or, the world’s screwed, there’s no way it’s gonna make it anyway. Look at the rationalizations and see if there isn’t a counter-rationalization. Cause the rationalizations are going to lead to the challenging feelings. And so the counter to that is again finding the intention to care. Cuz when you’ve rationalized why it doesn’t matter that you exist as it relates to the country, you’ve rendered yourself useless. You’ve rendered yourself partially depressed, you’ve rendered yourself losing a potential purpose of life. We are being given an opportunity to have a purpose of life like never before. All we need to do, and I don’t need to minimize it when I say all cuz it’s a big deal. What we need to do is address reality. We can’t be in denial. We need to face our feelings and we need to find a way where we can be a little bit positive and then see if there’s any momentum possible.
Some of the things you can say, well, what questions can I ask Google? Google is an incredible ally when we’re dealing with difficult feelings about our country. So for example, you can ask what organizations are there near me in my location that are organizing to support and identify Democrat candidates or Independents or people that are not election deniers or are volunteering for things that are gonna support our country? And you can ask those questions in 50 different ways that is using the intention to care and you know who you are. Now our core identity can be the one that wants to care or our core identity can be our emotional reactions. And for most of us, we’re taken over, we have a hostile takeover by our emotions and it’s disabling. It doesn’t mean it’s a hundred percent, but we haven’t learned that knack. So Google can be our friends,
we can ask what foundations are there, we can ask ourselves what friends do we know, what educators do we know, do we have any connections to businessmen that could be supportive, any family members, who can I talk to. Don’t just go through the motions. You’re asking what’s really possible. Now, if you have a computer, you always have access to Google, you can always ask those questions. If you have a friend, you can talk to a friend. If you’re going to the supermarket, you can always put out a good vibe that’s gonna be helpful indirectly, even if it’s not directly. So asking yourself, similar to what Dave was commenting about, what are your dominant feelings? Not just what are your feelings? If you ask what are your feelings, then you’ll drive yourself crazy. But if you ask yourself, what are your dominant feeling? And it may even be, what is your dominant feeling?
That might be more practical, which is that if we don’t deal with our dominant disturbing feeling about our country, we’re gonna render ourselves not being able to be helpful. And if a large percentage of the millions of us are channeling ourselves toward how can I be helpful, it’s gonna stop the far left going against the right, it’s gonna stop the far right going against the left. Now obviously I don’t mean that in a grandiose way, but I mean on a one-by-one basis, if somebody gets the concept, it’s better to be for something than against something. If that concept can be utilized, that is a huge breakthrough. If you repeat this out loud, like imagine yourself or maybe even as you’re listening to us right now, if you’re in a car or somewhere where you’re not embarrassed, repeat it out loud, how deep your commitment is.
Be part of the healing movement toward the country or toward the world. How much you want to be a healer? Say, I wanna be a healing influence. See if you sound depressed, see if you sound anxious, see if you’re too inhibited or see if you can even hear your inner voice. You don’t have to say it out loud. Say, Do you wanna be part of a healing influence in our country? And if you do, let that motivate you to wake up while you have these feelings that take you away and basically make it impossible for you to be useful. And can you see the following thoughts that start to germinate from the intention to want to be a positive influence? And can you see the viable little steps that you can take? You can also ask yourself, what are the thoughts that are most helpful that I can think that would counteract the feelings that I have?
So if you’re frightened, you can say to yourself, one example, one of a thousand examples. It’s okay that I’m frightened. I wanna still find courage. It’s okay that I feel paralyzed or I feel withdrawn, but I still want to be moving toward engagement in the next hour, in the smallest way possible, even if it’s my thoughts. These thoughts are those thoughts. I’m glad I’m thinking of these thoughts. I wanna dedicate myself more cuz I can see this is a blind spot for me. So what can I say right now? Do I have any money or energy that I can spare to help save our country or our world? Do I have any energy where I can volunteer and I can check out where I can volunteer by going on Google? Can I look into things like regenerative agriculture, ecosystem restoration, The Global Bridge, Acumen, Buckminster Fuller Foundation, plant trees with an organization, or in my yard with vegetables, call local experts in the area, whatever it might be for you.
Are you aware of how deep your unconscious is that wants to believe that we aren’t in that much danger, so you can just distract yourself? Are you aware that you’ve largely been unaware? And can you bring this awareness to now be more dominant, right now, I wanna be aware. So in other thoughts that are helpful, it’s up to me and I wanna do my part and I don’t wanna kill myself by trying to be grandiose and devaluing having better thoughts or devaluing having conversations with people that I think could do more than I could do or supporting them. Every little bit matters. I can support a local homeless or low-income initiative, or I can work harder with a good attitude. I can move from my head to my actions or my interactions and communication with my family and my friends. I can spend time contemplating and looking at what is my number one need that’s on that list. And while I’m doing it, I can then maybe, for whatever degree, fire it up with some intention, some wish, some longing, some desire to really make a difference. I can remember what I used to feel like as a young kid when I was really innocent and I just wanted to be loved and love. So it’s largely this shift as we’re looking at the feelings toward our country and our world that we wanna move toward. And all of us are capable of working on this psychologically.
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