In the last episode, Robert and Dave focused primarily on containment. This week’s episode is focusing on giving some personal examples of containment and penetrating even further into transforming anger and resisting emotions into intimacy and strength. For most of us, feelings are central. Here, we are being guided and given options to how beneficial responses to our feelings can be vital to long-term happiness. It can be a bit like a lobotomy at the beginning to think and question ourselves outside of our conditioning, to stay frozen or fixated in our feelings. Once we can begin to listen we can recognize that these guidelines can be a much better definition of who we are. Containment is that pause between feeling and reaction. This is not something most of us have been taught to do and therefore must be applied again and again until a new habit is formed.
Robert and Dave offer up real places in their lives where they struggle with frustrations and impatience. Join them as they reflect on their own conditioning to illustrate how they use containment and other tools, such as the 75 essential needs, to help them navigate through their personal challenges. Getting through feelings does not always mean getting over them. As you are hearing their stories, take this opportunity to look at your difficult feelings and see if you can find a place that still wants to care for yourself, others, and learn how to implement this caring. This is not a standard, but because you realize it makes you feel best when you can allow awareness of challenging emotions and the intent to heal coexist. This opens the door for a direction of healing that otherwise wouldn’t occur.
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 66.
Robert Strock: (00:03)
And what we’re gonna be talking about today is something that is so central to living a fulfilling life and breaking free from where we’re trapped in conditioned reactions that each of us has. And we all have it, whether it’s from our parents, our culture movies, friends.
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: (01:10)
Thanks again for joining us at Awareness That Heals, it’s truly a pleasure to have you be joining us on the program. And what we’re gonna be talking about today is something that is so central to living a fulfilling life and breaking free from where we’re trapped in conditioned reactions that each of us has. And we all have it, whether it’s from our parents, our culture, movies, friends. So, none of us are really liberated from having a direction in life where we’re naturally following ourselves, where we would have a selection of what we’re exposed to that we choose to align with that is we can have our conditioning, but we might go, hey, wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense. I’m not gonna let this be the way I am, where we have an awareness, that’s our own and we’re looking at whether it’s our religion or what marriage is supposed to be like or what political party we’re supposed to be in, or relationship to war, whatever it is, where we look at it ourselves.
Robert Strock: (02:29)
And normally it’s like a tidal wave that’s moving us that we need to really develop our capacity to think for ourselves and to question for ourselves and actually to listen to what the answers are, and not only listen, but recognize those guidances might be a much better definition of who we are. As a matter of fact, almost inevitably are a better definition of who we are than the conditioning itself. And this is not something that virtually any of us have been taught to do. So please don’t get caught in feeling discouraged or helpless or like a failure. And it’s fine to have those feelings, like it’s fine to have all feelings, but let it be something that you can add an and to. I feel this, and I wanna be able to ask questions for myself and not just have my feelings be the end of the story.
Robert Strock: (03:39)
And for most of us feelings are central. And so, it’s a bit like a lobotomy. For most of us at the beginning to have the and I wanna think for myself, and I want to question for myself, and I wanna pause and really feel into it and say, is this all of me, is this all of my potential. And in the last episode, we focused primarily on containment and today we’ll give some personal examples of containment, as well as penetrating into further. And before we start, I’d like to introduce Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and also my 50 plus year friend, who was really offended last time, our last show, because he didn’t wanna reveal his age and he still wanted to look pretty.
Well since there’s no video here, there’s no denying that I am. here.
Robert Strock: (04:38)
It is, uh, good to be here as well as, uh, these are some of the most challenging episodes for me. And I hope to have some opportunities to talk about why and circumstances in my life where, uh, how I was, I wanna say conditioned, but let’s just say the conditions of my life led me into circumstances where the things we’re gonna talk about really played a big role in various outcomes.
Robert Strock: (05:16)
Look forward to that. I also want to introduce Mark Spiro again, who’s joining us in the midst of a medical serious situation. I’m not gonna use the word crisis, although one could use that word and is modeling in a way that is so dear and touching to my heart of someone facing a very, very serious condition that maybe has a chance of not being very, very serious, but being in that gap and still having the intention to, to really move toward caring for himself and others while dealing with some very difficult emotions. So Mark, thanks so much. And I invite you to join our show if, if you feel like it at a timely way,
Mark Spiro: (06:14)
Thank you. And I will, I will. I’m so pleased to be here and be able to have this goodness come over me when things are kind of not good, at least from another place. So thank you, Robert.
Robert Strock: (06:28)
Yep, absolutely. So, starting out with just briefly, what’s current for me in ways that I have frustration, impatience, even incredulousness, especially around people that have money and wealth and are living at this time of humanity, when everything has become so much smaller and we can see it on our TV and we can see people dying, kids, dying, women being raped, tens of thousands than I’m guessing hundreds of thousands of people being tragically murdered, assassinated, and right in the, hopefully toward the end of COVID, or maybe in the middle for all we know, and being taught that people are starving, people are being killed and here are the select group of people who have been fortunate to be raised in an environment where they had opportunities to create wealth. They had the, the, let’s say the skills to, to accrue wealth and then still have it be so dominated around their own families.
Robert Strock: (07:56)
And so on a gut level, I’m pissed off. I’m frustrated. I wanna scream my ass at them, say, wake the fuck up. What are you doing? You know, and I realize that’s utterly arrogant and destructive and it’s not gonna do any good at all. So, I’ve had to go through the awareness of my anger, my arrogance, my frustration, and realize I feel the pain underneath it, of the identification of people that are hopeless in their situations with being able to eat or have housing or medical care or a planet, our planet, that is showing signs of being terminally ill. And yet the, the wealthy people that are not giving more than 2% or 1% or 3% of their wealth, and aren’t really questioning it. I have this deeply profound, anger and frustration and helplessness and impotence that’s there and the helplessness and the impotence helps wake me up that who in the hell do I think I am to be some guy that’s gonna tell everybody else what to do.
Robert Strock: (09:17)
And the answer is I’m just one person who believes very strongly that we’re all here to be interconnected. And yet if I lay that on as a standard, I’m gonna be more destructive than constructive. So, hopefully it will naturally lead to an organic sweet spot where you can reach a place. If you’re someone who has means or wealth or opportunities of free time and energy, that a part of you naturally wants to be able to move in a direction to address poverty and food insecurity and give opportunities to people to prove that they are motivated and opportunities to really reach out to our planet. That is our true home, so that we can really take care of our kids and grant the kids in a way that will allow them to have a place to live.
I’d like to relate a personal circumstance. And I, and I wanna preface it by saying that this is one version of what can happen and has happened in my life, certainly in many different forms. But it, it relates to my ability to be a, let’s say, let’s say my propensity to be a person who likes to be approved of by giving and there’s no shortage of people and I think that’s no accident around me that are happy to receive. And at the same time, uh, in this circumstance, I’m gonna describe, uh, I will do so briefly, uh, there are a lot of sub-stories to this story. Uh, in this circumstance I would say is one of the, one of the top five learning experiences about this part of myself in my life. Uh, I wish in some ways it had happened 20, 30 years earlier, but it took me, uh, quite a few years to get to this point where I was asked, uh, saw a need, uh, helped a, a relative who was moving, uh, into a home, wanted to move into a home with, with her family.
And I had the means to help, uh, guarantee a bank loan, ultimately, uh, when that fell through, ultimately had the economic wherewithal, as you were just describing, uh, you know, again, another part of this lesson is seeing how, uh, my loyalties to family brought me to my economic generosity to family. Um, I look back at that with some regret, even some shame in, in the totality of what other needs are around in the world. Nonetheless, that’s what happened and my expectation, um, and I think this is one of the lessons is I tend to project out that people are going to treat me like I would treat them. They’re gonna feel grateful towards me for giving. Like, I would feel grateful if somebody gave to me, of course, I don’t give people up to that point in my life, that much opportunity to give to me, which is part of the pattern.
Therefore, uh, it becomes a moot point, but I expect that if I’m generous and in this case, um, ridiculously generous, uh, yeah, one example of this is giving, uh, you know, like a $950,000 loan, at what I would call family low interest rate and being met by an expectation that I didn’t know at the time was there, but later was told why wasn’t that a free loan? Why wasn’t that a 0% interest rate? And again, there are many examples like that. Um, and so where it led to was a very inefficient process where, uh, the family member and husband, uh, did make plans that were not disclosed, more money was needed, they were not good at what they did. Ultimately, it forced me to step in and take closer looks at things, that was resented, it was perceived as lack of trust, which actually was an accurate perception.
I didn’t. I think they earned that lack of trust and ultimately it worked out. But it also cost me a relationship and it, it, uh, ultimately never fully recovered. It involved other, because this person was related to other family members, it impacted them as well. And it was a lesson, painful lesson learned that, uh, that person became alienated almost entirely. I still recognize the seed goodness in that person. I won’t say that I don’t, but it is obscured. And inside me healed in such a way that, uh, I would be receptive, but certainly not initiating, but receptive to rekindle, whatever connection–it might be too grandiose to expect a loving relationship, but certainly a cordial or friendly or some type of relationship–but there is a complete cutoff and has been for a number of years. Seems like about eight years, nine years, uh, since this finalized. And I think this is common, I think people run into others that feel entitled. I think they feel, and I certainly feel, uh, blind to that entitlement until it often, for me, it became too late. And so that would be an invitation, I would say to you, I would appreciate feedback and talking about that entitlement people have, and that, that need to fulfill other people’s wishes. Many people have, and how eventually it degrades into something nobody expected.
Robert Strock: (16:25)
I will do that, but before I do, I wanna put a little more flesh on the bone to, to show your level of generosity. The interest rate was so low that, that it was crazy. And, you also put hundreds of hours of work in finding their house, locating it, getting all the players that are needed to do a remodeling. And there were unbelievable amount of work and effort and energy that you put into it; it was utterly heartbreaking. And two other family members were even more attached cuz they were closer to the relative and they didn’t do as well as you. But the key thing I wanna point out was you were able to find, even though you were the boogieman, you were the bad guy that they pointed their energy at, you were able to find and have been able to find a tolerance, which is many times an important message for everyone, all of us that sometimes the best we can do is tolerance. And that’s a, that’s a big victory, even though with the tolerance at another level, there might still be, and there will still be frustration and anger and helplessness and grief and remorse.
Robert Strock: (17:46)
That’s the best that we can do sometimes. So, it’s important to recognize that we can’t always end up, uh, gaining control or merging.
And thank you for that. I, I also wanna say that once in the situation, it was not something I could simply draw a boundary around at the moment of becoming aware, hey, this is really not cool. It had a involvement, uh, that took time to unwind and finish. And so, tolerance really was the word. And even more than tolerance a, a necessity to see it through to the end. So it wouldn’t blow up, uh, you know, it wouldn’t be self-destructive for me and even more, uh, for the other family members involved who certainly I care about. Um, but it took a lot of patience, a lot of, a lot of tolerance to just see it through. And it had to be seen through because once I , I woke up to the fact that I had put myself in this position. It wasn’t just like, I’m out, wasn’t that simple and sometimes it’s not that simple.
Robert Strock: (19:07)
Yeah, exactly. And what you asked about, to do with people that have entitlement, is a very important place for all of us to look at whether we’re the entitled one or whether we’re the one dealing with the entitled one. And that’s a perfect setup for having, uh, it’s, you know, referred to as, as compatible or complimentary neurosis. You know, one neurosis, one neurosis is the need to give and the other one is the need to receive. And there are a lot of relationships that are like that. And frequently the one that needs to give is not aware of their feelings and they just keep doing it and doing it and doing it well, this is an episode that is for you to see, do you need to set some boundaries to have a more balanced relationship? How has it felt to give and give and give and not to receive?
Robert Strock: (20:04)
Can you see, like Dave alluded to that you have more difficulty receiving and can you open up to that? And can you see that if you don’t open to those needs, it’s gonna leave you alone or frustrated or angry or withdrawn. And so, it’s quite important to see whether you’re on the spectrum of entitlement or the spectrum of blindly giving. And if you can recognize that, then you have a chance to stay aware of the feelings that are there, move to the intention to heal, and then ask yourself uniquely in your situation, what are my needs. And again, going to that list of needs at awarenessthatheals.org with a 75 difficult and challenging emotions and the 75 essential needs being able to identify how do I navigate myself from here? And one size does not fit all. Dave’s situation is one variable and there are probably 50. And so for you to really ask yourself, oh, here I am. Here’s what I normally do. And here are my actual real needs. Can I put them to words? Here are my feelings. Can I put them to words? Do I wanna move toward caring? Can I recognize that and spend some time in that kind of contemplation?
I just want to emphasize what you just said and just really, really say it may seem obvious: of course I know my needs. Well, for me, it wasn’t. For me, it never occurred to me because my need was to be liked, was to be accepted, was to be validated by my giving. And so yes, asking yourself your needs is so important, but that list that you have available is a huge starting point. It needs to be looked at because it’s, it, for me, it was an empty space. It was like I have needs, okay, I wanna understand what they are, but nothing was coming up. That was not the language, my inner language in my life. It just wasn’t there. And this is coming from, I wanna with, embarrassment say a person that’s been a therapist for decades and a person that, you know, looked at myself at age 19 and knew I had the seeds of this pattern, but yet it took so long and I’m sure I still have things a hundred percent sure along this line, this onion, this thread will continue to peel away. But looking at that awarenessthatheals.org list of needs, um, is it’s, it’s no empty task. It’s no empty effort. It is so important.
Robert Strock: (23:08)
Yeah. And of course you needed to be treated fairly too. You needed fairness. And that need for fairness is something that people that are in the giving, the need to give, they don’t recognize the need to be treated with mutuality or with fairness. And when you see the need that you have that need for mutuality and fairness, then it can wake you up to another potential. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have a cooperative partner because they’re used to you probably taking care of them. And so it’s gonna require a maturity and a depth and a stability to be able to stand on your own because it’s likely if you’re dealing with somebody entitled, they’re gonna go, oh, they’re gonna reframe it, they’re gonna say, oh, you’re greedy. You, you should have given us a free loan, what the hell?
Robert Strock: (24:03)
And their attitudes of impatience and guilt, it’s gonna be projected on you. You’re guilty for giving us a family loan that has interest. You’re in it for the money, that’s who you are. And your need to be treated fairly, and to have mutuality is gold for somebody that has the excessive need to give. And I would say it, it isn’t so much the need to give, as much as the excessive need to give, cause the need to give is natural. The excessive need to give is really what we’re talking about
In particular, the excessive need to give in combination with denial of even visibility of your own needs. That is a recipe for disaster.
Robert Strock: (24:55)
Yes. And you were the meal.
Robert Strock: (25:00)
. So, I have an example with a very dear close friend. And I was in a unique situation where I have, I’m not wealthy, but I have enough money where I have security and I don’t have to work. So, I’m in kind of a blessed situation. And this close friend I had helped be in investments, Dave and I have, have led an investment group for our families and our close friends. And it was just a time where I didn’t have any cash and we needed to come up with cash for, for a deal. And I asked her for a, uh, three or four month loan for $300,000 and she had a million dollars in the bank and said to me, well, I’m kind of nervous of making an investment in just one thing. I said, well, listen, it’s gonna be guaranteed by my estate.
Robert Strock: (26:05)
You know, Dave, Dave is going to make sure it happens. We’ll have all this in writing. Well, I’m still kind of nervous. Well, I was so pissed off because I, I had made her half of her net worth in the investments we had done. It was guaranteed by my estate. I had several instruments that she could have taken over. It was a no risk loan and it was a pretty generous interest rate. It was higher by double Dave’s family interest rate that I was offering to her. So, I expressed with some frustration, for sure that leaked in, but I expressed my need for her to be able to roll reverse with me. And we went through a very rough time for a couple of months, but I’m happy to say that she was able to say that she was sorry, that she wasn’t able to have perspective and able to really listen, that her anxiety completely took her over for a period of time.
Robert Strock: (27:02)
And so we did recover, but it took us a couple of months. Um, I, I don’t think I have the same need to, to excessively give as Dave did, but I do have the need to give and probably a slightly excessive need to give. And so was, let’s say more forceful immediately with being able to convey my need. And the frustration was, uh, or the forcefulness was secondary to the need and the hurt that, that, that I wasn’t being appreciated or that she couldn’t, didn’t want to help me, uh, for a very temporary situation. So it’s very, very important to take a look at when we reach out to give to somebody, is this somebody that is in the realm of mutuality, now in her case, she was, but it hit a blind spot because she had never invested that much and saw it as an investment rather than a guarantee.
Robert Strock: (28:03)
So even Dave and I, we’re known for our bits of scuffling and, you know, Dave, Dave’s more conservative, likes to use lawyers and doctors. Uh, he would probably have a different way of saying this. Um, I mean, he might say he’s more intelligent, uh, but he, he likes to use doctors and lawyers much more as central. And I like to use them as let’s say last resorts, uh, sensibly, I think, but he would very likely say not sensibly. So I’m, I’m pissed off at him. And he and I will go through stuff just because we’re, we’re close buddies and we’ll be pissed off in a way where we have an understanding that we have a tolerance for each other’s frustration. And we, we can, we can even name, call each other a little bit because we’ve known each other so long. And we, we probably do that once a month, once every six weeks.
Robert Strock: (28:58)
And, I’ve had friends over and they say, who in the hell was that? oh, just my closest friend, Dave. And so it’s unique. There are plenty of ways to be able to, uh, deal with anger. That’s really, let’s say reserved for people that you’d have an incredibly close relationship, and you’ve been able to do that for a long time, but it doesn’t mean you get over the feelings is the point. It means you we’re still human. We’re still gonna be frustrated. We still believe more in our own ways than the others ways. But fortunately we both have a shared need for mutuality and forgiving, which allowed us to really, uh, easily get through it the 100 or 200 times that it’s happened over the 50 years or more. So, hopefully you can see yourself, Again, I wanna reiterate the key in every episode of Awareness That Heals is that you are applying it to yourself. Dave and I don’t matter. Mark matters a little bit more because he’s facing a situation and he’s displaying courage. But even Mark, in a way, doesn’t matter because he’s doing it for you too.
Robert Strock: (30:10)
So, that when you are facing either a serious illness or a loss of a friend or partner that’s died, that you have the courage to say, how can I move in a healing direction? Even though at one level, I might be fucked there’s still another level where I can have this intention to care for my life and for other’s lives, if I can find it. And it doesn’t mean we get over the feelings, it just means we can coexist. And, as you’re hearing this, please look at your challenging emotions and see if you can find a place that still wants to care for yourself. And hopefully others, not as a standard, but because you realize it makes you feel best when you can allow both to coexist. So I thank you all for your attention and hope you’ll stay with us. As we keep penetrating further into transforming anger and resistant emotions into intimacy and strength. Thanks so much.
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