Awareness that Heals

The Question That Matters Most – Episode 31

The Question That Matters Most - Episode 31Host Robert Strock leads listeners through the process of using friendly mind and our inner knowing to address difficult relationships in our lives. If we can approach them from a standpoint of causing the least damage and most understanding for both parties, we can have crucial conversations to support ourselves with challenging feelings and relationships. This same skill comes into play when inquiring into how do we find purpose, meaning, and a way to contribute in the world and not let feelings of helplessnes, skepticism, or habits lessen our potential. With time, we can narrow down our inquiry to the question that most matters in our life as a central part of who we are becoming. We can be enjoying asking ourselves a version of “What’s the next step for me to care for what I am feeling and be taking the next small step into being inspired in the world at the same time.

Resources related to this episode
Robert Strock Website
Robert’s Book, Awareness that Heals
Free Downloadable Introspective Guides

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Announcer: (00:01)
Awareness That Heals, Episode 31.

Robert Strock: (00:04)
So, in taking a look at your life, ask yourself, what is the most important question? Just one, the most important question that I want to be asking myself either this week or this month, that really would be most important to give me the best chance to live the life I want to live.

Announcer: (00:30)
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: (01:11)
So, I very much want to thank you again for joining us with Awareness That Heals and Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges. And as I said in the last episode, and I’m going to say it again, it sounds pretty doable. Sounds like, yeah, I can probably do that, but we’re talking about really an alternative lifestyle where in your inner world, your lifestyle changes, when you really decide that you’re going to dedicate yourself to become aware of your needs, to become aware of your feelings, to become aware of your challenging emotions, become aware of your friendly mind to become aware of your inquiry and to find your wisdom, and then to follow your wisdom. That’s an alternative lifestyle. If you really choose to do that. And again, I want to go out of my way to say, please use your own words. It’s not about you being a follower of my words.

Robert Strock: (02:23)
It’s matter of finding the equivalent so you can get to where you can guide yourself in whatever way that takes for those that are aspiring to that, which is my hope, in the majority of you, and/or are living that way a fair amount. I congratulate you and deeply happy personally in my life to see that there is a significant minority of people that really are aware that we’re living in 2021, really are aware of the immense division in class, in the world today and forever. And also, that the planet is heating up and is moving in a direction that is absolutely perilous. So, shifting in this way, in the year 2021, it almost doesn’t matter where you are, what position you’re in, in life, because the planet itself is trying to get our attention. I don’t mean it, it has a will. It’s trying to, it’s more like we have to close our eyes not to see it.

Robert Strock: (03:41)
And so, when we see that, it basically makes us question is the way we were conditioned taking that into consideration. Now I do think there are some kids that are six years old, seven years old, eight years old, nine years old that actually they are, because their parents know that they’re moving into a world that’s imperiled and they are teaching values of caring for the world and involving money, involving time, involving energy, involving thought, involving questions, involving some kind of spiritual or humanitarian life. So, we’re going to continue today to dive into specific areas that hopefully will touch you in places that are similar, so that you will, as much as possible, go to your situation, and chew gum by hearing me, but more importantly, be in your own life and apply it to your life. So, one of the questions and one of the dilemmas that I found myself in for many decades and a lot of people that I know find themselves in is how much time do I spend with my friend, or friends, or family, and how much do I take into consideration?

Robert Strock: (05:22)
What I believe is going to optimize my life and how much do I do it so that I don’t create hurt feelings in them. So just pause for a second and really ask yourself that question. So, your wisdom has a few seconds to speak to it, find one or two people where, you know, I don’t really want to spend that much time with them, or they really want to spend a lot of time with me. And I’m, I know I’m bumming them out all the time. Don’t quite know how to deal with it. And yet my wisdom wants to free me and them from this kind of imbalanced relationship where one of us wants the other more. And because of that, there’s an element of pain. That’s the elephant in the room, or maybe occasionally the elephant comes out and maybe not an elephant growls.

Robert Strock: (06:24)
And, and so it’s important to be able to identify those relationships because it’s one of the major hindrances along the path to develop our own wisdom because our, our conditioning would tell us, be a good friend, be a good family member. Yeah. God bless the family. God, God bless your friends. Ah, there’s other people that are dying. Get the food. Nah, don’t worry about them. Yeah. Planet, our planet will take care of itself. Don’t worry about it. It’s probably way off in the future. So how much time to ask yourself, identify the one or two people that that’s the case and now ask yourself, the next question is, how could I communicate with them? And the best way possible to bring the maximum amount of fulfillment in my life and the least amount of unnecessary pain in their life or the maximum amount of fulfillment in their life and the minimum amount of pain in my life.

Robert Strock: (07:38)
Because we might have both ways. We might have people that we want to spend time with more and they don’t have time for us or vice versa. Those are completely common challenges along the way. So when I’ve asked myself that, which I’ve, I’m sure I’ve asked myself that 500 times in the last 40 years, I come up with a version of an answer that says something like, you know, I noticed there’s a difference in how much time you want to spend with me, or I want to spend with you. And I really like you, love you, whatever the right thing to say to the person is. And so, I don’t want to create unnecessary hurt in either one of us, even if there might be necessary hurt, but I want you to feel free or I want to feel free to have it be natural for you or natural for me.

Robert Strock: (08:46)
So, we can go and find the ground that works for both of us. And it might have to be my way, or it might have to be your way, but I don’t want it to come from pressure. I don’t want, I don’t want it to come from a moral standard. I want it to come from true sensitivity to both of us. How do we take care of both of us? How do we take care of both of us? We’re asking that question together. I want to ask that question to you. I want you to feel free. If a person’s really community here, you might say, help me understand what it is that makes you not want to spend so much time with me, or I want to let you know why I want to spend less time because I’m busy doing these things that are so important to me.

Robert Strock: (09:34)
Now, if they’re not a communicator, you won’t do that. But then you get, you get to a question, like if I went with my natural flow as to how much I would want to get together with you, I think it would be yeah, twice a year. And he’s picking that out of the air. I mean, of course it’s your answer is the most important thing as to what’s natural for you, or when I imagine how often we get together, because I call you 12 times a year, but we only get together twice. I imagine for you, it must be something close to twice a year. And so, I feel better about having it be cleared out and I won’t bug you, or I don’t want you to feel rejected when you call and I miss your emails or I miss your phone calls. And so, I really want to find out as sensitively and as gently as kindly as possible, what’s natural for me or what’s natural for you. And again, how do we take care of both of us?

Robert Strock: (10:36)
And this is a tremendously helpful conversation. I probably had this conversation with 50 people and I haven’t really had it work out badly. If I look at it in terms of unnecessary injury, I would say probably 49 out of 50, there was pain. So, there was necessary pain. And, but this dignity, because I’m assuming that you have enough strength to handle the truth. And I’m assuming I have enough strength to handle the truth. I’m assuming that I want to take care of you. I’m assuming you want to take care of me by having this conversation. And I’m doing it with a vibe that is kind and sensitive and present as I can be. And so, when we do that, it really is moving away some of the obstacles in following our wisdom, because we’re spending time with, it might be a lot of people that this is true for maybe both ways.

Robert Strock: (11:55)
Now other option is simply if you’ve been doing it a certain way, if you feel like, you know what, this person is going to go into a depression because you’re so, they’re so dependent on you and, and there’s no way they can get out of it. It might be that you just try to finesse it and just simply say, God, I am so busy with all these projects, I’m so behind, don’t take it personally, but I’ve got 10 people that I’m behind on. And it’s like, it’s always going to be that way, so please don’t take it personally and just leave it at that. So those, those are ways whereby asking a question, you come up with answers or guidance that’s going to minimize unnecessary pain. It’s helpful to notice what type of person you are when you attempt to do this, because it will help you do it more effectively.

Robert Strock: (12:59)
If you’re the type of person that gives yourself away and is always helping others, this is really, really important to you because you’re going to likely have more than one person. You’re going to need to have this conversation with, or some kind of communication that sensitive with. If you’re isolated and you’re really self-centered, and you’re honest enough, at least to be aware that you’re self-centered, which is a big leap, but let’s say you are, then you might be a lot more cautious and say, you know what? Maybe I have an aversion toward people. And the reason why I’m not enjoying them is because of who I am, because I’m always talking about myself and maybe that’s the issue. And maybe the conversation needs to be with me and me. So that’s an important thing to look at. If that’s more your tendency, if you’re more of an isolate and you know what, you don’t really know how to ask people questions like how’s your life, how’s your work.

Robert Strock: (13:57)
You know, what’s, what’s most inspiring to you. What’s most difficult for you. These are all questions that are important in relationships to have be central. If you’re self-centered enough, where these are not natural to you, you might have that be the way you hear this part of the dilemma of how do you optimize your relationship with self and other. So, another area where inquiry and wisdom comes in is you find yourself having a completely free day, you know, unexpectedly. And you want to ask the question, don’t just go with your feelings because that’s like just going with your conditioning. How do I optimize today to be the most, and this is where I’m going to be careful, that I don’t project too much on you. Fun, happy, intimate, fulfilled, inspired, excited, laugh whenever you value and prioritize the most. How do I optimize this day?

Robert Strock: (15:10)
That might also include taking care of practical elements, taking care on my free day of survival issues. But the key thing is whenever you have a free day, you’re asking yourself that question and you’re listening for the guidance. And then you’re going to use your free day in a way that’s coming from you, not from your conditioning. Now another barrier on this path to guiding yourself towards your own wisdom is if you have a tendency to procrastinate, ask yourself the question, what is it that makes me procrastinate? What is it that makes me wait till the last minute or beyond? Well, let’s even include beyond procrastination, make plans and then not fulfill the plans. What, what is it that makes me or more accurately? What makes it happen? This inside me, that brings on procrastination now, oftentimes is hating what you’re doing.

Robert Strock: (16:27)
Oftentimes it’s afraid of the consequences of going into it, or it’s unpleasant just to do it. But then you want to ask is procrastinating making it worse or making it better. And each situation you’re going deeply into it. Cause this barrier of procrastination, let’s say you, one of your deepest values is to help a friend, but you never get to it. So, your friend doesn’t get helped, or let’s say you have an elderly parent and you haven’t ever shared how much you’re grateful for the parts you’re grateful for and they might die. So, you never get to it and they die.

Robert Strock: (17:16)
Or are you, you’re struggling with survival and you have a free day and you don’t stay with the survival because it’s important that you do, although it might be equally important if you’ve been working your ass off forever to go to the beach and relax or listen to music or dance or sing or whatever you want to do. So, it’s a question of whether you need perseverance more to take care of it earlier, or recognize maybe that it’s not a priority and it’s actually a standard that’s pushing you in that direction, but you’re asking what’s the nature. What do I come up with as to why I procrastinate? And when you don’t procrastinate, then you’re living your priorities more and your guidance is able to lead your way,

Dave: (18:11)
Dave here. And I really want to, um, thank you for these opportunities to participate in this, this one in particular, just the connectivity of the Awareness That Heals podcasts and how they link together for me, this one and the awarenesses and the friendly mind and the, and the movement towards what you do when you have challenging emotions and reject yourself and start to ask yourself questions and, and the linkage between all of it. And as we talk about these things here that you’re discussing so far, um, what is bringing back for me is that I have procrastination that is situationally oriented, where I am absorbed in a challenge. And it’s, it’s a different version of procrastination. It’s a different version that hating what I’m doing. It’s, it’s a, uh, it could be, as we discussed in prior episodes, uh, a health-related issue to myself or somebody dear to me, uh, that just doesn’t allow me to lift into the energy it takes to get things done and things of that nature and distinguishing between the pattern like that or the pattern like, Hey, I’m just that kind of person that won’t really look and really see that I have an aversion and what that’s about.

Robert Strock: (19:43)
Yeah. Procrastination, as you’re saying, and seeing can be such a, a detour from wisdom. So, we’re trying to look at a lot of the ways that we can deepen wisdom and the obstacles along the path. So, in your situation to see whether or not you’re procrastinating, helping something that needs to be helped because you’re afraid of this, the disapproval or, or maybe unconsciously at times, you’re afraid because you’re annoyed. Uh, and, and, and that you need to work with the annoyance or you’re procrastinating because you’re also afraid of the outcome of going, going to a doctor or whatever else.

Robert Strock: (20:31)
All of those are so important because the moment you see it as procrastination, the one that sees it as wisdom, and it doesn’t mean you’ve arrived at the healing, but you you’ve arrived at the source of the suffering. And that’s again, to be congratulated, only half congratulated, but congratulated for at least giving yourself a chance to be in the game. So, another area, a big area that really takes us away from our wisdom is seeking instant gratification and believing that the instant gratification is going to us, what it promises us. And it turns out to be a dud on a pretty regular basis. Now that might be for people that have health issues, it might be eating too many unhealthy foods. Now for another person, it might be spending too much time watching TV or spending time with friends that you don’t really like, but, but you get all the approval.

Robert Strock: (21:48)
So, you get gratified by the approval for another person. It might be shopping or by it might be traveling extensively and avoiding other parts of your life for another person. It might be cogitating, boy, am I a genius? Yeah. Thinking, thinking, thinking about how wonderful you are. So, you’re gratifying yourself by praising yourself all the time. You know, another way of gratification is, is you’re competing with others to get ahead of them and it’s to do with gratifying yourself and your ego to be more wonderful. These are all traps. These are all ways that we aren’t listening. And when we can listen to what we’re not listening to, that is cause for celebration. So instant gratification is a question that you want to contain, and you want to retain inside yourself after this podcast and continue to ask, are there areas where I’m going for instant gratification when actually my wisdom wants to guide me in these other ways and instant gratification can be very subtle or it can be very crude.

Robert Strock: (23:04)
So again, the idea is to stimulate you questioning and kind of look and see, is this easy or hard for you to do? And I don’t mean right now only, I mean, in life, is this easy for you or hard for you to do, to have these interventions in your life when you’re unwillingly or unconsciously suffering, but you sort of have a feel, maybe not totally unconsciously. And if it is new for you, then congratulate yourself even more for, for hanging in there, having the courage to really face stuff that you haven’t faced and have an opportunity to give yourself stuff you haven’t been able to give yourself stuff for. And if it’s familiar for you again, I would congratulate yourself for wanting to deepen it because you realize none of us arrived. This is an endless moving in a direction, never arriving. It’s like one of the, one of the things that has really come to me later as mortalities become closer and closer is I want to move in a direction right through till I die.

Robert Strock: (24:27)
And even when I, even hopefully when I’m dying, I’d like to be moving in a direction. I’m not sure I’ll be able to, that I aspire to. And so, this reality of wherever you are in the spectrum of whether it’s easy or hard, it’s advantageous to want to have wisdom be the center of your life. When you really think about it. If I asked you one of those stupid dumb questions, would you rather be wiser or more stupid? Now it’s like, I don’t think many people would say want to be more stupid, or even less wise, being less sarcastic. And if the answer is obvious to you see how much that could be a catalytic wave. No, I want this to be in the center of my life. I want to remind myself, I might, I might put reminders in different ways on the, on the refrigerator.

Robert Strock: (25:30)
Next to my bed, because conditioning is not going to remind you. Wisdom is the only thing that’s going to remind you about wisdom or inquiry or friendly mind, of the equivalence, prayer, meditation, yeah, they may, they may very well, but they might not. Some do, some don’t. So, hopefully this leads to you feeling a sense of esteem, even if it makes you feel worse in some ways. So, in taking a look at your life, ask yourself, what is the most important question? Just one, the most important question that I want to be asking myself either this week or this month, that really would be most important to give me the best chance to live the life I want to live. You know, a question, whether it’s a question about money or love or sex, playfulness, humor, tone of voice, so many questions that you could ask, but what would be the one question, and maybe let it be specific, as it relates to this person or that person, this situation.

Robert Strock: (26:54)
And while you’re asking yourself, what’s the question I want to most ask, maybe say a little bit of a prayer, that’s may I give this the time it needs to give more of a chance to get to it and to embrace the confusion that is likely to come. When I ask this deep question and who may I give myself a version of congratulations, even if I can’t feel it. So, you’re really guiding yourself to ask yourself the most important question. And that’s kind of a carry through. You might think about that question 25 times a day, and it’ll guide you, or maybe you only need to deal with it with certain people with a certain person or people. So, you won’t need to do it quite as much, but situationally you realize it’s like, if it’s like, if you’re playing golf or playing many sports, you go through your routine before you execute.

Robert Strock: (27:58)
Well, your routine is asking you this question and preparing yourself to be your best self. And by doing that, by developing this inner routine and have it become more routine, really sets you up to be the source of wisdom, more and more as your central identity than your feelings. And of course, that’s a very big part of what we’re aiming for. And the deepest part of my heart that’s what I wish for everyone and our world so badly needs for all of us to not follow our conditioning. May we all really ask the question that most matters in our life on an ongoing basis.

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