Self-Reflection Will Help You Develop Self-Awareness – Episode 100

Self-Reflection Will Help You Develop Self-Awareness_Episode-100When you experience challenging feelings of any kind, inquiring or asking questions that are specifically aimed to discover what the feeling is will help you develop the self-awareness necessary to know what your pain, loss, or suffering is. After you discover the precise kind of challenge you’re facing, this podcast will help you remember to ask yourself to find the place within you that desires to move toward a state of well-being, peace, or relief—it’s a practice that can help you to look within for the guidance that you long to find. It will also encourage you to embrace the aspects of your life that are most challenging as opportunities for personal growth. By fully sensing the emotional experience, you can better relate to what is aching within you and not be misled by intellectual ideas and concepts. 

Asking the right questions implies that you place real value on this process and enable you to move toward the intention to care for yourself regardless of how a difficult emotion makes you feel. It is important to remember that inquiry is a process, not a destination. By remaining focused on your commitment to exploring your most challenging emotions and questioning what will most help, you will give yourself the best opportunity to manage any form of suffering with self-compassion and self-care. Developing essential emotional intelligence is an art that is illuminated in this episode.

Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Guided Meditation Video (YouTube)
Robert’s Book, “Awareness that Heals”
The Introspective Guides (Free Download)

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.

Announcer (00:00):

Awareness That Heals, Episode 100.

Announcer (00:04):

The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock, has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book, “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges. Especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw Together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings, and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.

Robert Strock (00:46):

A very warm welcome again to Awareness That Heals where we focus on bringing our hearts and wisdom to our life’s challenges. And as you’ve heard over and over again, we start with being aware of what is most difficult for us and recognize these difficulties are universal for all of us, whether we recognize them or not, and how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times. Now, I don’t want it to get lost in this introduction, how evolutionary this is to both be aware of what’s challenging and at the same time to find that urge to care for ourselves and move in a direction toward what we need to address our challenging feelings and to take good care of ourselves. This is truly a mini miracle every time it happens. Today, we’re going to deepen how we can ask a couple of core questions that are from our heart, which is a progressive capacity that will change our life once we go beyond intellectual understanding and develop it as a core practice.

And this going beyond intellectual understanding is crucial because intellectual understanding is not going to be enough. We’re gonna need to have it be so deep that when we have a challenging feeling that we have a deep enough understanding that we’re automatically going to be asking these questions. You’re gonna be supported by getting a chance to do a guided meditation that gives you a great chance to discover and support what you most need when challenging feelings and situations arise. And it really highlights the importance of being aware of what is difficult for you and deepening your realization that without it, you or none of us can really move in a healing direction or find our wisdom. Now this is crucial because a lot of people believe that I don’t really need to focus on what’s difficult for me, but basically, that’s the key to living a relatively thin life where we can’t grow in our heart because when we have challenging feelings, it means our heart is wounded or affected or disturbed in some way and it needs care.

It’s like having a wound in your arm and saying, I don’t wanna pay attention to the wound in my arm. And this is such a major victory each time you can observe or we can observe what we feel without having to distance ourselves from it or judge it. You and almost all of us haven’t been taught how important this is and what a leap it is when so many of us are just left with being challenged and frequently not dealing with it at all. So the first question that is so beneficial and seems obvious, but somehow it’s not obvious in the normal world. And the question to ask is, how are you doing inside yourself? Now you may think that sounds a bit trite or conventional, but the truth is, when you really mean how are you doing inside yourself, you’re looking for where you’re least feeling whole or for that matter, you might not even have to look.

It may just be glaringly obvious, but you’re paying attention to it. So as I’m saying these words, let yourself find that place that is either with you now or has been with you during this recent period or an anticipated period in your near future. One of the reasons why it’s not, let’s say, frequent or popular to really deal with our challenging feelings is because we’re just left without being taught or guided how we can respond to them. So who wants to just deal with fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, if we’re stuck there? But if we have a way that’s practical that we can understand on a deep level that can guide us to our needs, can identify specifically the kinds of thoughts that we want to have and need to have, how we can find the ointment that’s going to care for us, of course, that’s gonna end up being something that we want rather than something that we want to avoid.

So this first question of how are you doing can be asked on a minute-to-minute basis, hourly basis, or a daily basis, whatever your capacity is. And I don’t literally mean that your mind is thinking it. It’s kind of just a quick flash that I’m interested in, how am I doing? And so throughout the day, there’s like a scanner that’s interested in your well-being. And the question itself, how are you doing, has a tone in it that’s caring. As you hear my tone shift, it’s more like, how are you doing? It’s like you’re asking a close friend and just asking that question is soothing. If you learn how to embody a certain kind of kindness or tenderness, and as I say this, ask yourself, do you think you can do that? Can you ask yourself how you’re doing with a certain kind of warmth?

Now this naturally leads us to a second question, which is, how can I most support myself given I know how I feel, I know how I’m doing, how can I most support myself? The very question itself is already a support. And then you have the increased capacity to come up with thoughts that are going to further guide you, like I want to tune into what actions might be needed, what qualities do I wanna bring to myself? And let’s say for example, that you’re anxious and you realize I want to accept the anxiety and say it’s okay that you’re anxious and you can still function and take care of business while you’re anxious. If it’s a more severe anxiety, you might say, I wanna rest or I wanna exercise. And again, only you can know the details, but the question is the beginning of the support. And then you come up with either the thoughts that are gonna support you, the qualities that are gonna support you, or the actions that are gonna support you. So these two questions, you’re gonna be given a chance to go into your guided meditation that’s gonna ask you to ask those two questions and find the way to your heart and to your wisdom.

Guided meditation is for so many people the best way to truly gain benefit in your response to personal challenges. As you invest and bring your own experience to the guided meditations, you’ll give yourself the best chance to change longstanding patterns from suffering toward a state of well-being, peace, and healing. It’s important to put yourself in a comfortable body position in a private space where you’re not disturbed, turn off your phone and be ready to really be alert. Ask yourself, what’s my intention going into this meditation? Are you aware of what you would like to receive, whether it be self-compassion, kindness, strength, humility? See if you can become aware of what your greatest wish or your intention is, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s one or the other of those. What does matter is that the intention is a part of your heart. And if that evokes a click, then enjoy the click. Yes, I am wanting to join this meditation to open up a part of my heart. And if it leads you into self-doubt, then just notice it and then ask again, isn’t there a part of me that wants to move toward well-being?

You wouldn’t be listening to any meditation unless you had that part. So stay focused on the part of you that has the intention to move more toward some element of caring. And then ask the question, what is my most difficult emotion that I’m facing now or near now? That’s such a great starting point because wherever you’re feeling free and good and peaceful and strong doesn’t need any help, the only thing that needs help is where you’re challenged. It’s not out of being morose, it’s out of being courageous, it’s out of being humble. It’s out of being honest that you’re asking what is your number one most challenging emotion. Because you want to grow, because you want to find a way to support either a challenging feeling or perhaps it’s a challenging situation. And let that awareness of the feeling or the situation be as clear and as crisp all the way through and not be distracted by the words that are being spoken. So as you ask that question again, see if you can have the question penetrate, deepen your body, not just be in your head, not just be intellectual. You’re looking for clues and cues and sensations when you ask, what is the most challenging emotion and can I find a place inside me that wants to care for me?

And as you penetrate into a deeper layer of yourself, realize that that observer can guide you to be in your body and really ask what’s challenging. And would I rather care for myself or would I rather give myself a hard time? Because it’s conscious that becomes a silly question, but the unconscious doesn’t know the difference between a silly question and a profound question. So recognize, asking it consciously is gonna help you immensely because it’s gonna guide you to the obvious, of course I want to care for myself. And I can even see that if I’m in a better state, it will help everyone around me. I’ll either be speaking for more wisdom or more heart or more of both. So we’re gonna be going to two questions. The first one is, how are you doing inside yourself? And you’re gravitating toward whatever isn’t a state of well-being, but you start to fall, at least in like, if not love, and the question of how are you doing, because implicitly it means that you care. You care enough to ask.

Remembering and seeing around you this is not the common way people interact with each other to say, how are you doing inside yourself? They might ask, how are you, looking for good or fine? This is different. This is like a MRI, scanning your body and really being interested. And it may sound simple and trivial, but it’s so rarely a lifestyle. It’s frequently not even a vacation. So, appreciate that you’re taking a few moments just to start off by seeing that you’re interested in how you are. You’re not looking for a story, you’re not looking for a lot of content, you’re looking for an emotional state like empty or frustrated or impatient or meaninglessness or agitation, anger, helplessness. That list probably sounds like a downer, but what it is, is a form of pregnancy where you see a potential birth that hasn’t happened because the need is frustrated, which has left you in all those states. All of those states are frustrated needs. So as you’re asking how you’re doing and you’re focusing on the challenging aspects, you’re wanting to give birth to where you’re hurting, to where you’re suffering. And by asking this question, you’re opening up all the possibilities.

So you wanna look at your subtleties. How does your body feel? Is it tight? Is it relaxed? And let yourself breathe, which allows you to feel it more distinctly. And when I say breathe, I mean breathe a little bit more into your belly, if possible. And notice are you motivated or unmotivated? Maybe you’re starting off with only a little bit of motivation or maybe you’re quite committed to want to discover how you are and getting to the second question, which is going to deepen it further. So notice, are you high energy or low energy? Are you judging yourself or accepting and peaceful? Are you inspired or empty or neutral in whatever other description you would give? Just accept it, treat it as if it’s your precious awareness of what is real. It’s important. And the reason why is that it’s one of the few ways we can guide and support ourselves by addressing what isn’t fulfilled. And especially with staying aware and finding that place inside us that wants to care. The amazing partnership awareness of what’s challenging in finding a place that wants to care. Almost none of us were taught this. And if we’re not in touch with how we are, how can we possibly support ourselves?

And the answer is we can’t. So this first question can be asked on a minute-to-minute basis, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, whatever your capacity is, is a central part of your life practiced whether you know it or not. And it’s not a contest, it’s not a competition. Just notice how much you aspire to ask and check in with yourself, how are you really doing? Which will give you cues as to how you might respond wherever you are. If we pay attention closely, we’re gonna see that none of us are the same all the time, even though it’s common for people to appear the same. So let yourself savor your awareness of sensing the experience of where you are. This actual sensation of where you are and the awareness of it and this urge or longing to care for yourself might be a very superior definition to who you are. This capacity to be one with where you are is a very fruitful, profound, and hopeful place to be because it gives you the unknown to move yourself in a direction toward what you really need. This naturally leads us to the second question.

After I’m aware of how I am, how can I most support myself given how I feel and the conditions that I’m facing? Again, the second question, which hopefully is something that is planted inside you for the rest of your life. How can I most support myself given how I feel and the conditions I’m facing. Now, normally we just feel something and we don’t remember to ask the question to bring out the wisest, most caring parts of ourselves. This is a process that’s asking you to be your best self. And you may just recognize, no matter how I’m doing, I always wanna support myself and nurture myself. Not putting frosting on garbage, but caring for myself in a way that’s going to lead to well-being and healing for myself and significant others.

And recognizing that these two questions are the foundations of giving a best chance to you living a fulfilling potentiated life that is grounded in your actual experience. It’s very helpful that we genuinely breathe into our actual feeling state. In our honest, humble, and trusting. The truth of our experience is more important than our image or what we project out into the world, with our words, facial expressions or even what we normally think about ourselves. The smaller the gap between what we actually experience inside and the words that we find to describe our experience, the greater the gift we can give ourselves because we can relate to what is most real inside and not be fooled even by our own ideas. We can override our own thinking in how we normally respond when we habitually say, I’m fine, I’m good, which is an abstraction, an automatic pilot answer that so frequently in our society, we give to each other. If we listen for a while, as we ask these questions we’ll inevitably notice that we have parts of our inner experience that we keep private, or even rarely visit ourselves.

This is real gold in the making as it gives us the extra raw materials or energy to give more options and optimism that we need to direct our attention toward and inspires the question how to care for ourselves in ways that are frequently overlooked. Just notice if you want to plant a seed, to remember to ask these two questions. How are you and how can I care for myself? For many, it’s hard to have the faith, the humility, and the courage to take a fresh, open look at ourselves without wanting to repeat our idea that we’ve had about ourself. However, see if you can’t plant that seed to do your best to imagine that you can take care of whatever you discover much better than by letting it stay in solitary confinement. Now, as I say these words, I smile cuz we have this potential to take ourselves out of jail, out of solitary confinement and bring life to what is challenging and bring healing and qualities of our heart and our deepest needs to wherever we are. So see if you can appreciate your sincerity that is there and that you want it to grow.

See if you can appreciate that. And if not, be curious why. And as you look, there is a sincerity that you need to connect with and to appreciate and let it grow throughout the rest of your life. May that be so.

So again, take notice of where this meditation leaves you. Does it leave you more hopeful that you can ask yourself these two questions and that this will be supportive of you? Just the basic check-in, how am I doing and how would I best support myself? The simplest place to start is what thoughts would support me? And as a general rule, it’s okay that I am where I am cuz I know that I will be resourceful to go for how I can best respond to these feelings. And hopefully, as you hear this, it allows you to feel more trust that you can afford to be wherever you are because you have multiple ways, including asking the question of how you are and how you can best take care of yourself. And by having these tools, you’ll know that you can take care of yourself and forever you don’t have to be afraid of yourself no matter where you are.

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