Host Robert Strock discusses the importance of identifying and listening to our own wisdom. We can learn to value paying attention to whatever our challenging emotions are at any moment. This is a major victory. It’s a part of identifying what are our essential needs so we can guide ourselves toward the best version of who we are. We can ask ourselves “What is it that we most need?” and refer to the Introspective Guides on AwarenessThatHeals.org for specific help. Strock uses examples from his years of experience in psychotherapy to show how we can identify the patterns of distraction and false things we unwittingly tell ourselves that keep us from our needs. As we do, we can learn to shift our tone, behavior, and thoughts to move forward and experience benefit for ourselves and those around us.
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 28.
Robert Strock: (00:04)
We need to learn how to not follow those conditioned feelings. How we feel about money, how we feel about sex, how we feel about relationships, how we feel about trust, how we feel about how we select a relationship. We need to look at it from our 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 life.
Robert Strock: (01:02)
Thanks again for joining us for Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges. We’re starting to glimpse, hopefully of course, I don’t like speaking for you, but I’m hoping that you’re starting to glimpse that we’re looking at a capacity that can deepen our quality of life. No matter where we’re starting from, and that it requires staying aware of ourselves. It requires being honest with ourselves and it requires us to be our realistic, best self as a lifestyle. Not better than our best self, not standards that are laid on us, but being our best realistic self.
Robert Strock: (01:57)
And no matter the time of day, we all can insert this. Either friendly mind or inquiry saying things that are really on our side, trying to get us on a track of being in a state of well-being, the best we can, if we’re really suffering, recognizing the legitimacy of the suffering and then adding an “and,” and I can respond to the suffering in a way, at least mentally, at least from my wisdom, I can respond to that suffering in a way that’s going to make it two dimensional rather than one dimensional. You’re going to recognize you could be wisdom and suffering at the same time. And of course, it’s really hard to do that. If you haven’t learned how to have a friendly mind and to inquire as well for your own well-being. So today we’re going to go deeper into how we develop that wisdom-mind, wisdom-guidance, and how it really has the viability to change your quality of life and to continue to change your quality of life throughout your years. So, I’d like to, before I go further introduce Dave, 50-year closest friend, and I say that with, uh, in, in comprehensible to be able to be explained, way of how intimate we’ve been and how close we’ve been. And also my partner at Golden Bridge Foundation.
Thank you. The feeling is entirely mutual and, um, I’m excited to continue these conversations.
Robert Strock: (03:56)
Thanks for being here. So, one of the ways of really demonstrating this is dealing with really concrete, real examples, so I have a friend and the last 40 years he has talked about, got to find a way to make some upside income. And for the first, I don’t know, first years I kinda said to him things like, well, you have any ideas or it was kind of vague. I was, I was in, I was inquiring for him, but it wasn’t crisp. But then as the years went on, it started to become something much more specific, which is, so what do you think your next steps are? Or do you think you really are doing everything you can do? And he would usually say something like, I don’t know, I’m confused. So, one let’s go into the confusion. And then he would say, well, I could try to make some cold calls in real estate, or maybe I, maybe I ought to get hired by somebody, or maybe I had to go back to my relatives and work for them.
Robert Strock: (05:18)
And I said to him, do you realize that your best understanding is a maybe, which means you’re confused. So that conversation, which I hope applies to a lot of you, because whether it relates to income or it relates to health or beauty or sex or relationships or family, it’s like, how do I get to the next place is too often left as a vague question. And a “they” question is not going to help. It needs to be made more tangible. And so, the questions became what would be your next step. Do you see that you are confused? And can you relax with the fact that your confused because it’d be one thing if you said, oh, I should join this firm. And I know I really take, off easy path, but I’m too afraid. I’m not going to do it. If that happened, then the question is, what’s the next step, would be that. And if you don’t execute it, if you don’t go for it, then of course you’re going to feel depressed, but it’s going to lead your wisdom to say, I’m either confused. I don’t know. And I need to explore and I need to contemplate. I need to keep asking inquiring questions. I needed to develop more, respect, more reverence for confusion, or this is my best risk that I need to take. No matter what your situation is, this applies to you.
Robert Strock: (07:07)
And when you’re in the question, notice if you’re still rejecting yourself while you’re asking. And then address that, say, I don’t deserve that from the mind will come in and say, I don’t deserve that because I’m asking the question and my sincerity really doesn’t know, or I see these possibilities and I’m going for the three in the best order I can see. So, we’re moving from vagueness to specificity from the next long period of time to today or this week, or to right now, or to the next phone call or the next email. And it really doesn’t matter whether it’s more money, beauty, success, feeling good, being healthy, losing weight. We want to bring it to the next step. And then we feel, then we at least know, even if we don’t feel that we’re living right on the edge of our potential.
As you speak a couple of things come to me. And, uh, I’m, I’m on a different end of the spectrum, but I, I I’m, I’m aware that as you, as you talk about making the move, uh, there’s a fear of failure. I’ve experienced that fear of failure, um, or in other cases of fear of commitment. Yeah, I’m gonna make a move. I’ve been in relationships where, um, commitment, marriage, et cetera, has been on the table. And I’ve had to ask myself, am I afraid of the commitment or is this just simply not the right situation? And so making a move, uh, can be difficult, can be a dilemma. Um, that is also very sincere, very, very Unknowable in certain cases for me, at least.
Robert Strock: (09:06)
Well, I mean, you’re really isolating the crucial thing, which is you’ve gone deeply into the confusion and you’ve seen you have a fear of failure or a fear of commitment. And that then becomes the question is my fear of failure rational, am I going to die if I fail or am I just simply maintaining an image? Am I realistically, I have no chance, and it’s grandiose for me to even think about it. So, you need to think about whether the fear of failure is egoic or if it’s actually perceptive. And similarly, but slightly different, the fear of commitment, do I know enough about her? Do I, do I believe that she’s compatible? Have I asked the right questions? Have I challenged the areas where my radar has been up? Have I looked at my overall compatibility with this person, including attractiveness, including sexuality, including, uh, ability to have a sense of valuing life, parallel sense of purpose.
Robert Strock: (10:28)
Have I explored these areas? And so, the question would naturally go from fear of commitment, to fear of the details that would lead you to have a fear of commitment. So, you keep peeling the onion and you get closer and closer. Okay. Yes. Now I have, I know how we are sexually. I know how we communicate and don’t communicate. I know how our families get along. Yeah. I know whether our values are the same. I know whether she has attitudes that I don’t like if you get there and you still have a fear of commitment and you say, Hey guy, you got an irrational fear of commitment, but at the beginning you didn’t know whether it was rational or irrational and you still might not know there’s a level, level for most of us where it’s a little bit of a leap of faith, but for a lot of us, it’s a big leap of faith. Oh man, she’s hot. Wow. That was fantastic. Let’s get married. So, they don’t go through the careful questions of character and compatibility as being equal to chemistry and sexuality and beauty. So, it’s important on these multiple levels that the inquiry and the best self needs to really be aware and pay attention, which is going to help you with fear of commitment.
Robert Strock: (12:13)
It’s going to help you with fear of anything. You got to bring it down to a very tangible level and see is this fear really something I’ve explored, and it really is a calling for courage, or is it a calling for acceptance that the fear is actually wisdom. Sometimes there’s wisdom. You know, if you have a fire and you’re afraid of it, smart not to jump in the fire. If you’re afraid of commitment and you find out, yeah, you sort of felt like, wow, she’s a bit bitchy and you experiment a bit more and you realize I marry this person, I’m going to get bitched out all day long or you know what, she didn’t communicate at all. So, I have no idea what her needs are and she’s not interested in mine. If that’s where it is, then your fear is wisdom. So, it really is a matter of looking closely and asking yourself, what’s the nature of this and how am I best going to take care of myself? So, the question, it’s also important to ask is, is listening to this, like a vacation or a hobby for you. Yeah, part time thing. I’ll think about it once in awhile, I get better things to do.
Robert Strock: (13:38)
Or is it something that you really want to integrate into your being? Because you can see, not because you should do it, you can see, I want this to run my life. This is my best me. I want to keep developing it. And it’s not a noun. It’s not a fixed thing. It’s a verb. It keeps happening. It keeps asking you to ask yourself, how can I be my best self to find your wisdom because no two situations are identical. So, will you make the time to contemplate and ask these questions? Yeah, I have clients that I’ll ask in the, not so much these days, but clients in the old days, how often do you do this? And I say, oh, once a week.
Robert Strock: (14:29)
And my reaction was usually something like, you know, sometimes if I was a little leaky and not my best self, I might go, really, but my reaction hopefully is more like, gosh, I really think it’s going to take more time than once a week to do that. You know, I, I frequently, I’m not saying you have to be like me. Yeah, I’m a bit, I’m a bit of a, bit of a freak, but I like the freak that I am. And I, I probably ask myself that 50 to 100 times a day and I’ve been working at it for a long time. And I think the more time we give ourselves to contemplate it and ask these questions and listen to the answers and respond to the answers and really be real. That’s the real living our lives. The American dream is at best a half-truth, it’s probably a quarter truth and it’s going to lead us down the rabbit hole.
Robert Strock: (15:34)
So, we need to re, replace the conditioning that we’ve had in our lives with developing our own wisdom as to how we take care of ourselves. I’m not asking you to follow Robert, I’m asking you to follow you. I’m asking you care about you enough where you might look and say, well, you know, here are some of the activities where I can trade. I spend two hours on video games. Maybe I could spend an hour and a half and add that extra half hour a day to actually check in with myself and say, how am I really doing, what do I need to most focus on? Where do I meet most of my wisdom? What would my wisdom say to me?
Robert Strock: (16:20)
And that’s going to really set you up on your day to have a chance of it being a wisdom gathering day and inquiry gathering day, a friendly mind enhancing day. These are not theories. These are principles that all of us as human beings are programmed, and we’ve been programmed to seek a dream. That’s going to have a lot of feelings because it’s been lifelong programming. So, we have to learn. We need to learn how to not follow those conditioned feelings, how we feel about money, how we feel about sex, how we feel about relationships, how we feel about trust, how we feel about how we select a relationship. We need to look at it from our wisdom. If we don’t look at it from our wisdom, if I’m speaking loosely, loosely going to be a little stupid, we’re going to be a little behind.
Robert Strock: (17:23)
We’re going to be following a culture again, a flash to The Missing Conversation. In the other podcast, we’re going to follow a culture that has perpetually been in wars. We’re gonna be following a culture that is perpetually been in class warfare. That’s been a perfect setup for terrorism, for nuclear dangers, for global warming. So, if we don’t think for ourselves and change from our conditioning to listening for our best self, we’re going to be taken over in the wave of the thousands and thousands of years of conditioning, that very likely came through our parents. And for sure it came through our TV and comes through social media, comes through commercials. And so, see if it really makes sense. I want to be my own wisdom. I want to be my own inquiring heart. I want to be my friendly mind and see if there is, like I said, the last episode. Boom, boom. Yeah, I want to remember it. I really want to remember it when I need it the most when I’m feeling good. Okay. I can cruise a little bit usually, but if I’m not feeling good, it’s time. It’s time to interject that.
Robert Strock: (18:54)
If you find yourself being upset or angry, irritable, impatient, and tolerant, it’s very important to realize that underneath these more aggressive or what I sometimes call resistant emotions, there’s going to be something vulnerable. So you’re going to want to ask yourself the question, what is it that’s making me be reactive in a war-like way, in a tense way where my body’s contracted and what are the more vulnerable feelings that are underneath it, like hurt or fear or aloneness or jealousy or insecurity and guide yourself to feel what is underneath these more aggressive reactions in life. We all get off. It’s natural and I’m not in any way saying cut short, the feeling, the aggressive feelings inside yourself. I am saying to cut short, acting them out, but aggressive energy is good energy. It’s a liveliness and it can lead us to our vulnerability and leading ourselves to our vulnerability will naturally lead us much closer to being able to access our needs.
Robert Strock: (20:22)
So, if we get to well, I’m hurt because my friend didn’t seem to respond to me like they wanted to get together again. Well, that’ll lead you. Hopefully, it’s the question of, well, A, are you confident of that? B is that because of some limitations you can see between your friend and you see, do you want to have a communication with your friends and see whether it’s true and maybe even have the courage to say, gee, you’re really into this. I’m into, that seems like that’s limited involvement. What do you think the optimal time where you wouldn’t feel any pressure that you’d want to get together? Just a wonderful question to have in your repertoire with everyone could be your lover. How often do you want to talk about inner world? How often do you, how often you want to talk about whatever and then let them know the same thing?
Robert Strock: (21:24)
So being able to get closer and closer to your needs, and for those of you that don’t clearly know what you need strongly encourage you to go to Introspective Guides on the Awareness That Heals website, it’s a free download. It has 75 Challenging Feelings and 75 Essential Needs and Qualities and just download those, study them. So many of us haven’t been trained, virtually all of us haven’t been trained, but so many of us aren’t able to articulate what we feel. And certainly, aren’t able to articulate what it is that we need. And if we don’t, we’re very likely going to be spinning in that quicksand, maybe for our whole life, when there’s an exit strategy. That, it’s like, there’s a ladder there, an invisible ladder that we need to have be visible. I want my friendly mind. I want my inquiry. I want my vulnerability.
Robert Strock: (22:30)
I want my needs. I want to be able to activate my needs. I want to be my best self. So, part of the guiding yourself here is to realize, where am I not being kind to myself? Where am I most vulnerable to being in a state of deep suffering, likely leading to self-rejection and where I need to bring inquiry into my life. So, scan for a couple of minutes, if you don’t already have a few identified, a few feelings, these are my most difficult feelings. These are my most difficult situations and stay steady. And I want to stay aware. I really want to stay aware of these difficult feelings, because I want to impregnate myself with friendly mind, with inquiry, and with setting up the conditions for my wisdom to be able to speak to me.
Robert Strock: (23:40)
And I promise you, if you make a sincere effort to develop mind and sincere inquiry, your wisdom will speak to you and it will be your wisdom. It will be your esteem, it will be your confidence and it will not erase all your suffering, but it will lessen it. And it will make, you know, you can guide yourself no matter what the conditions are virtually. Yeah, we might be catatonic, or we might be not able to move in bed at some stage, but beyond that, we’re going to be able to guide ourselves. And even then we can get into the mind of the person that’s there. And maybe those people can have thoughts that are kinder, or just a sense of being able to breathe in a way that makes our life easier. So, let’s end this with a story that both Dave and I were at a residential treatment center for teenagers in, between 1974 and 1977.
Robert Strock: (24:49)
And there was a boy there that was a relatively innocent one because we had some very strong, aggressive kids in an eight-bedroom house, 15 kids. And this boy was, I would say in a meek way, “would you pass through the butter,” and everyone would laugh, they never, they didn’t even bother to pass the butter. You know that his tone was a dead giveaway, oh man, this guy’s going to be fun to have in the house. We’re going to beat the shit out of him emotionally. He’s going to be a target. So, I worked with him for a year and literally the main starting point was how he asked, how do I pass the butter? Now I’m asking you, as I tell you a story, see if there’s anywhere in your life, where you ask a question or you interact in a way where you put yourself in a one-down position, or you’ve set yourself up to get a negative response just by the way you ask.
Robert Strock: (25:59)
So, we role-played. I said, okay, ask me the question. You know, and he would say, would you pass me the butter? Why don’t you pass me the butter? And he would vacillate over and over again between undeservingness, anger, confusion. And after several months of staying with this inquiry, he said to me, would you please pass the butter? And it was virtually instant and stable from that point on, way broader than the butter, he saw that his tone of voice was radar in that he was a victim and come get me guys, you know, just sock it to me. So, it’s so important for all of us that we see our patterns. And when our patterns are leading us into the soup, into the hell realms that we really have that reminder, ah, every time I know I can’t say it enough because every time we feel bad, it’s different than the last time.
Robert Strock: (27:22)
And it’s way worse or it’s impossible. Or we can’t do anything about it. But every time we get into that situation, even if we have one part of our mind saying that our friendly mind is going to say to us, you know what you’ve been? You’ve been saying that for a lot of years, why don’t you ask inquiry, inquiry might help you here. Then inquiry is going to come and say, okay, how do I help myself in this situation? Just like this boy, good at a residential treatment center. And see if you can imagine yourself shifting your tone so that you can set yourself up to be able to make the connection you want to make, have the results you want to have, or at least give yourself the best chance possible, because we can’t always get what we want as we’ve heard from Jagger. But if we try somehow, we’ll often get what we need. And so, each one of us, if we follow these steps are going to guide ourselves to our wisdom and empower that to be the center of our lives.
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