Recognizing a style of how we deal with our challenges can be a great way to begin learning how to best take care of ourselves. At one level it may appear paradoxical because most of us have been raised to believe we want to feel good. That we want to appear to feel good to others and ourselves. We haven’t understood the price of suppressing feelings. This episode highlights the importance of taking some time to drop into life’s most difficult experiences. It can lead to a contemplation of needs to support having a more complete and accurate direction of how to feel and live.
Stewing is one of the other common ways to deal with challenging emotions. Like a forgotten pot of food boiling on the stove. We do not recognize that the food is there to be eaten/experienced in a way that doesn’t create harm. It can then guide us to recognize and follow our most essential needs. Many people are not aware of their feelings, or they might be aware of them but they do not want to share them. They want to appear together, happy, and cool. However, both these tendencies are what actually keep away deep connections from ourselves and each other. This is why it is so important to investigate a more nuanced way of being with our feelings. We can’t deeply trust ourselves when we’re having to run away or compartmentalize.
For those of you that have not yet looked at The Introspective Guides to Awareness That Heals, this would be a great time to download those for free. They identify 75 challenging emotions, 75 healing qualities, actions, and essential needs. It helps us to become much more literate at being able to both see what is difficult and to see what is healing, which gives us so many more options..
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 57.
Robert Strock: (00:04)
How do you think you could best take care of yourself? How can I best support you now? That’s something that hopefully you will retain as a way of interacting with your friends, and interacting with yourself.
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: (01:06)
Thanks so much for joining us again at Awareness That Heals where we focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. And we start again and again with being aware of what is most difficult for us. And it’s quite evident these difficulties are universal for all of us, whether we recognize them or not. In fact, it’s been quite difficult for humanity since the beginning, when we look at wars and the underlying psychology of what created the wars, but we’re not stopping with just being aware of these challenges. We’re looking at how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times. And this sets up the ideal conditions for us to be maximally fulfilled in our individual lives and thereby being able to contribute to the world by finding and living from our best selves. And today we’re going to continue to delve even more deeply into the key practice that has helped thousands of people to make a simple link. And when I say simple link, simple to understand, but requires practice to remind ourselves to even remember that this option exists. And that link is between the most challenging feelings and situations we face each day and how to move forward toward healing and well-being.
Robert Strock: (02:59)
This is a grounded and I say grounded because we’re starting with a ground of what’s challenging. So, it’s a grounded inspirational way to live. And it’s very paradoxical because most of us have been raised to believe we wanna feel good and that wanting to feel good can cover these challenging feelings. And we’re really going out of our way to face that ground. So, it starts with authentically facing what is most difficult, either emotionally or situationally and, and it naturally can lead us. And I, I use the word can because obviously we need to really learn how to find that place inside us that wants to care for us. How do we nurture that place, which will then lead us to, how do we best take care? How do you best take care of yourself and those around you? This is what I deeply wish was taught early in our lives from our parents and maybe by us as parents or grandparents, or was taught in school, all the way from kindergarten on up, but in lieu of that being, having been the case, we’re gonna dive in from here. So, I’d like to start off by introducing my dearest friend, Dave, who’s my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and so many places that we’ve shared through the years that it’s impossible to convey.
Robert, thank you. And, uh, as, as you know, and as if you listened, anyone out there to the last podcast, uh, lots of things happening in my life and I I’m, I’m sure they will be sprinkled in, uh, as these particular conversations happened at, uh, near and present, uh, always really, but poignant and, and, uh, with, with great challenge at the moment.
Robert Strock: (05:26)
So thanks Dave, and hopefully you that are listening are doing what Dave just did, which is drop into himself, dignify his life’s existence as it is. This is how it is and valuing your very experience and bringing your awareness to look at it and hopefully be able to identify, ah, this is the challenge that I’m going through. And if it’s not today, how about this week, or how about the repeating challenges that you go through most frequently in your life and really zero in, cuz it’s helpful, it’s very helpful to know exactly what you’re going through. And for those of you that aren’t already looking at the Introspective Guides at awarenessthatheals.org, I would highly encourage you to download those for free, which will identify 75 challenging emotion and 75 healing qualities and actions and essential needs. And by seeing the precision of that, we become so much more literate at being able to both see what is difficult and to see what is healing, which gives us so many more options.
Robert Strock: (07:01)
Now, there are two most common ways that we really are not finding the optimal way to deal with these challenging emotions. One of them, as we talked about in the last podcast is stewing in the emotions and there’s something inside me that really likes the word stew, because I, I visualize a pot full of some kind of, uh, food, and it’s just the, the steam is going up and we’re just stewing in it. It’s the not going anywhere. And it’s almost like, okay, we’ve got the pot on the stove, but we forgot to take it off. We don’t recognize that, oh yeah, that, that, that food is there to, to eat. There’s something, some good reason why that food is there. So, one of the most common things we do is we stew in, in them and it doesn’t mean we have to be dramatic in the way that we stew in them.
Robert Strock: (08:05)
I’m saying it as if it can also be held in our private awareness. I think as many people stew in private awareness as they do in emotional expression and then the other most common way that’s not balanced is that we just simply suppress them. And that we give the standard answer when somebody says, how you doing? And you say, oh, I’m doing good. And there’s not really another looking at where you are now. When I say that, it’s not saying that it’s inappropriate to say I’m doing good it’s just that it is optimal to see who you’re talking to and see, are they capable of a deeper conversation, not just to commiserate with your feelings, but actually to try to support you, to try to understand how would I best relate to you when you’re in difficult feelings. Now, oftentimes when we’re with, let’s say a good friend, the best response is, oh, I’m sorry.
Robert Strock: (09:20)
And it’s left there. And even though that’s extremely well-intentioned, and for some people that’s a little bit helpful. And for some people it’s a medium bit helpful, but leaving it there as I’m sorry, leaves you in a what might be called a compassionate downer or a caring downer. And we’re looking to try to move to a couple levels beyond that, where it may include, I’m sorry, and there’s an end. And how do you think you could best take care of yourself? How can I best support you now? That’s something that hopefully you will retain as a way of interacting with your friends and interacting with yourself, maybe even interact with someone who is just not even a friend, just somebody that’s casual that you’re talking to. And just saying, I, I, I hope you’re finding a way to best, best take care of yourself. I wish you the best.
I just wanna give a shout out to the first chapter and the first podcast and what I’m, what I’m getting at there is, uh, there’s a lot of assumption here that there’s an awareness of the challenge. There’s an assumption of the capacity to look inside and see whether you share it or not, or otherwise. And honestly, at very challenging times in my life, I yearn for the time when I had no awareness of my unawareness, when I was just, you know, kind of moving through life fairly unconscious and everything was okay in my experience, there was a, a of course, a lot that wasn’t, but I was, you know, blissfully unaware in what I would call blissful, of course it wasn’t, but that’s how I experienced it at the time. I’m fine. And I, and I truly meant it. I truly wasn’t aware. And of course at this stage, anyone that’s tracked through this amount of podcasts and it, it, it, these dozens and dozens of podcasts is very likely not that person, but I just wanna remember where it started.
Robert Strock: (11:58)
Yeah. And I think it’s so important, uh, that even if you are one of those people that have tracked all these podcasts or on your own, you’ve found your own process to be aware of your feelings. And then maybe you move into a prayer that you have a process that we dignify what Dave is reminding us of. That most people are not aware of their feelings, or they might be aware of them, but they don’t wanna share ’em. And in a certain way, you can really understand if you don’t have a process to be able to care for yourself that you actually practice not understand only, but actually practice. Maybe there isn’t that much upside to just share the awareness of feelings. It’s very understandable why we would have a culture that would bury the feelings, try to make the best of it on our own and just make the best presenting that we can. And so, the key thing is to really recognize that the awareness of the challenges, even though it is a path in itself, just to be aware as Dave is presenting is the beginning point. And the point is not to be masochistic. The point is to really be following away where we can learn to care for ourselves in a very pragmatic way, and those that we love and hopefully spread this throughout the world.
I wanna just say what you just said as though, uh, I don’t want to be lost when you said it’s not meant to be masochistic. That’s huge. Uh, I remember back the first times, uh, when I was aware of for the first time and honestly, jolted into being aware of my inner challenges. It’s like, I don’t want, what, what the hell? I don’t want this. This is horrible. This is suffering. I mean, I, you know, I mean, why does somebody take my blindfold off? Why did I take my own blindfold off? And how do I put it back on? I don’t like this at all. And what’s the utility of it. What’s the point of it. All I’m doing is I’m just suffering. And so, the moving through those steps, it does start with a, what the hell, for me it started with a, what the hell.
Robert Strock: (14:37)
And I think that’s honestly very universal, and my best guess is that’s been going on for thousands and thousands of years that somebody would be aware that their, their partner is sick or somebody would be aware that gee, they can’t find an animal to, to kill, to be able to eat. Or somebody was aware that, that they were, they were scared of, of the neighbors and of being attacked or whatever it was. And they’d focus just on the response that they had to have, but they would bypass this and not learn to care for it. And my contention is that because that first step, that awareness of challenging emotions, isn’t obvious, that is part of the human condition. It blocks empathy. It blocks the ability for us to see that every nation, every human being is going through a parallel story. And if we block our challenges and we just react, it’s so easy to see how wars have happened, how religions feel superior, how political parties feel superior.
Robert Strock: (15:57)
And it’s that being aware and having some empathy for what we’re going through. That makes it more obvious that we’re all human beings and we all need recognize how similar we are in our suffering and how similar we are in, as the Buddhist would say, our desire to be happy. I, I like, I like myself, a word more like fulfilled or, or inspired or practicing wisdom, but whatever words are your favorite words, being aware as Dave said, and getting beyond that state of, no, I don’t wanna, I don’t want this to be like this. I wanna just be together and cool and happy and be seen that way. Well, that’s the best way we don’t get close to others. That’s the best way we don’t get close to ourselves. That’s the best way to be seeds for war. That’s the best way to be alienated.
Robert Strock: (17:02)
That’s the best way to not really deeply care for ourselves because we have to be together. We can’t be together or what actually happens or more accurate, accurately. What normally happens is when we’re aware of it, it’ll be exactly what, like what Dave said. I hate feeling this way. I don’t like it. And we’re left there. We don’t find that pivotal point of wanting to care. So, suppression is seen by most people as heroic individualism, as being the natural way to be, as I don’t wanna lay my problems on other people, I don’t wanna dwell on my problems. That is the common way it’s dealt with, which is why it’s so important that this more nuanced way of holding our challenging feelings at one level. But there are multiple levels of capacity inside all of us. Now you may even look and say, is my tendency to be more of a suppressor, a stewer?
Robert Strock: (18:25)
Do I go public with my stewing? Am I a private stewer? And for those of you that are private stewers, you probably pride yourself on, well, I’m not very emotional. I take care of it myself and it’s, it’s no big deal. I’m self-sufficient now I know an awful lot of people like that. And a lot of good people that are like that, the lack of ability to identify with others, to share with others, to see that we have the capacity to be nourished because other people oftentimes can care for us, or you can care for others more than we can care for ourselves. And that’s a very, very important thing to see this whole process as not just individual, but relational. And hopefully, you have at least one person. And if you don’t, I would highly encourage to look for a guide, a mentor, a therapist, a spiritual counselor, a rabbi, a priest, a minister, somebody that you can go through and say, this is, this is what I’m suffering with.
Robert Strock: (19:46)
And how can I possibly find a better way to care for myself? You don’t have to use this language, but you, you do need to find a way to see if yourself, the where you are, and to want to care that those, are principles that the, the words can be changed, but the energetics of it need to be there. Or else we’re kind of doomed to either soft, overtly or suffer unconsciously. And either way is a setup for more challenges and also being afraid of ourselves. We can’t really deeply trust ourselves when we’re having to run away or compartmentalize. You know, we, we are going to be living in a way that has more suffering, believing that we found our way to minimize it. So, this is really a message to you out there that have done fine in life. But if you look closely, there’s very likely a limited intimacy that has been experienced. If you are one of those that are dominantly self-sufficient by keeping this so close to the vest.
Robert Strock: (21:12)
And I wanna put out a really strong message that this message of being aware of your challenges or your difficulties, and finding that intention to heal, or that intention to care, move toward well-being. It can’t be repeated too often. You say, well, you’ve already said that I’ve already heard that. I already understand that that’s not the issue. The issue is, are you really practicing it? And my guess is, if you’re really practicing it, it won’t annoy you. You’ll feel it as encouragement to remember as much as possible. So, we’re gonna keep repeating this message in slightly different ways with the intention that one way might reach you and another way might not. So, please assume the goodwill that it’s not just senility on my part, that I’m repeating it over and over again. It might may be partially senility, but I’m pretty sure part of it is trying to be versatile and who I might be able to reach.
Robert Strock: (22:27)
One of the ways that I really see challenging emotions and situations is that they can be like a pregnancy. And I like that metaphor because a pregnancy is a mysterious and just such a peak experience of, of joy, exhilaration, positive anticipation miraculousness. And if we saw and see our challenging emotions as having that capacity to birth us, to really allow us to see it as a potential of giving ourselves life a quality of life, I believe that’s the accurate perspective. And so, when we see it and going back to what Dave said, instead of that, oh shit, or maybe it’s after that, oh shit, we say, oh, this could be like a pregnancy. There is a chance that I could birth some other capacity inside me. If I can find this desire to care for myself now, I don’t think there are many of you in your right mind, certainly, but even in your wrong mind, that would say, well, I don’t really want to care for myself.
Robert Strock: (23:58)
I’d actually rather just keep suffering. So, if you can use this metaphor of seeing it as being a pregnancy and then that leading to a birth, which is the intention to heal, which is the inquiry, which is the wisdom-guidance, and is the ultimate implementation. And recognizing that this is, it’s something we’re ever going to get-get that it’s something that it’s only through living it on a minute-to-minute basis, that we can get-get it. And even then there are seconds in there. So, it’s something that we really want to see as a prayer practice or a direction that we want as many reminders as possible. There are many clients that I’ve encouraged, put the key step where you’re stuck, whether it’s awareness of challenging emotions, whether it’s finding the intention to heal, whether it’s remembering to ask yourself question, how can I care for myself?
Robert Strock: (25:05)
Whether it’s receiving the wisdom-guidance or, or implementing it, putting that on the refrigerator, just putting a little picture or a reminder, put it in your car, whatever it takes to help remind you that the difficulties in life are not the end. And this is particularly important. It’s important to everybody, but it’s particularly important for those that start off with chemical issues or inheritance issues, where you had a background where it left you chronically anxious or chronically depressed from a very young age, that for you to see that’s not who you are, that’s what you feel and that you still have the capacity to want. Good for yourself to be able to ask yourself the question, how can I move toward this goodness, and to really listen carefully, but no matter how bad you feel that you, who have this inbuilt condition in your body, and this includes medication reactions, this includes hormonal reactions, this includes trauma that you deserve the most credit. For you to practice something like this when you don’t get the rewards of feeling good, but you have the character, you have the depth to actually implement this. You’re the true heroes. It’s like, we hear the expression of almost anybody that’s in a situation is viewed a hero.
Robert Strock: (26:53)
And yeah, I don’t think that just because you did something good, if you didn’t suffer, just because you were in the right place at the right time, you were a hero to me. The true heroes are ones that actually had to go through some suffering and still really still focused themselves like Victor Frankel did when he was in the, the Nazi camps where he really suffered. He’s a true hero. A true hero is someone that has suffered or is suffering and remembers, it’s not the end of the world. Or even if I’m facing the end of the world, maybe I can find a way to find thoughts that are gonna help me care for myself. So, I think I’ll wind down this episode with another reminder that hopefully you will take this in, not just in your mind, but as I’m going through this, please relate this to yourself.
Robert Strock: (27:57)
Find the most challenging situation or feeling you’re dealing with and track this. It is very dignified, maybe even the epitome of dignity to have a difficult situation, a challenging situation, and to let your awareness see it clearly, not to run away from it and to be able to see, oh, this is your challenging situation that’s repeating itself, or that you’re in right now, or that you’re anticipating. And then that glorious, really, for those of you that are religion, heaven-like, prayer-like movement, where you really recognize you wanna move in more healing or for again, for those that are religious, a godly direction, or if you’re spiritual, you’re, you have this intention that you want to move in a direction that’s gonna create benefit and healing to you. Or if you’re dealing with someone else, you’re practicing that intention to wanna be a healing influence for them.
Robert Strock: (29:13)
And that naturally then leaves you in a place. And again, keep the focus on yourself to inquire. How can I best care for myself? How can I best care for the other? And let that be something that you’re not just asked a question, but maybe you even have another level where you say, boy, am I I’m focused on something that’s in the direction. I want my life to move, or I want my friend’s life to move, or I want my lover’s life to move. And then you listen carefully. What are the suggestions? What is this question? Where’s it leading in your very situation now, in the future, the past, your friends, your lovers, what is the guidance that would best help? And if you’re dealing with somebody else, not to forget that you can ask them, how can I really be of the most support for you?
Robert Strock: (30:24)
And then when they tell you that this is what would be good, be silent, let me know that I can be resourceful. Let me know that you love me. Let me know you’re with me. Let me know that I can think this particular thought, or I can take this action that you are devoted to want to make this life. The only life that we know for sure that we’re in, at least in our, our present identity, that we wanna make it be as inspiring, as fulfilling, as intimate as possible. So, I can only say that my prayer is that you develop these practices in your words, in your way, but follow these principles that are aimed at this all ultimate combination in oversimplistic terms of being aware of your challenges and finding that incredible urge to want to be, make the best of it that you possibly can. And that you’re gonna follow that process. So, my dearest wish is that each of you is practicing that now and will carry through with it for the rest of your lives. Thank you for your attention. And I really appreciate you staying with this. Let’s say out of the mainstream practice and hanging in there with something that is for many like a foreign language. So thanks again, and my prayers are, are that you will really take this in.
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