The importance of this podcast is to put attention on yourself, so you may touch on the most universal needs that are going to benefit your life when challenges arise. When you are able to do this, even some of the time, you will begin to be able to benefit the world as well. It is a common misunderstanding that when we focus on ourselves, this is narcissistic. However, by discovering and accessing our essential needs, it is actually the most generous thing we can do. We can focus on challenges to support ourselves to live and use them to pivot to discovering and activating these essential needs. By recognizing and accepting ourselves as we really are, and not our fictional selves, our social media selves, or our shiniest selves, we can better support ourselves and those around us.
Our desires go awry when we excessively put our focus on success which often excludes interconnectedness, transparency, poverty, and caring for others as we want to be cared for. So of course our self-image can appear shinier and more perfect. Robert offers an invitation for self-inquiry. What has been the greatest desire in your life that has caused the most suffering? Or perhaps even, what desire is causing the most suffering right now? After this reflection, Robert expands our investigation. What happens when desires go awry? Join us for this week’s discussion of the self in relation to the desires for power.
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 15.
Robert Strock: (00:04)
Because desire has been the leader of mankind and universal needs have been a distant second place.
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: (00:54)
So, I wish you a very warm welcome again to Awareness That Heals where we give it our best to focus on bringing our hearts and our wisdom to life’s challenges, and also to hopefully encourage you to do the same. And while we’re on that point, I want to highlight, again, the importance of this podcast is your attention on yourself and distinguishing this from narcissism. This is the exact opposite of narcissism, this is putting your attention on yourself, so you can touch your most universal needs that are going to be of benefit to you in your life while you face your challenges. And that’s going to be something that’s going to lead, for benefit to the world, as well. So, it’s a common misunderstanding when we focus on ourselves, there is a way of doing that, where it’s the most generous thing we can do paradoxically.
Robert Strock: (02:01)
So, we start again and again, with being aware of what’s most difficult for us because it’s so, doesn’t get press. It still is, so not the highlight of the TV shows that we watch. It’s so not in our conditioning that we can’t emphasize it enough and recognize that these difficulties are not only our own, that they’re absolutely universal for all of us, whether we recognize them or not. And why would we do that? If we stayed right there, it could sound masochistic. Well, yeah. I want to just stay on what’s challenging. And I want to just absorb myself in a cesspool. No, that’s not it at all. We want to stay with what’s challenging so we can pivot and join with a question of how can we best care for ourselves at these crucial times. It’s a partnership and it’s so important that even as a part of you might not want to focus on your challenges and you might summarize these podcasts as well.
Robert Strock: (03:17)
They focus on your challenges, which is a real diss, because really what we’re doing is we’re, we’re, we’re focusing on our challenges to support ourselves, to live the absolutely most fulfilling life we can and to accept ourselves as we really are and not our fictional selves. So, it’s so important that you hear that we’re looking to be resourceful and to discover ways that we can take care of ourselves and those around us in the maximum way possible. And this sets up the ideal conditions for this partnership to exist for us, to be fulfilled in our lives and to contribute to the world by living from a place that’s both our best self and our interconnect itself. So today we’re going to continue to dive more and more deeply into what I really view as being, of all the practices, the one that really has helped the most people now, as I say that I don’t want to give short shrift to all the buildup practices that are necessarily steppingstones to get here.
Robert Strock: (04:40)
If you don’t have the foundation of all the prior nuances and elements that need to be developed, then we’re not going to be able to really significantly do and practice what you’re hearing during this series of episodes. It’s so crucial that you recognize that there are several practices that are all interweave together. And so this simple link, simple to understand and challenging, especially at first to practice between experiencing and facing our most challenging feelings in situations we face daily and how hopefully as close as possible at the same time we can move toward healing and well-being. Now I’m very careful as I’m speaking to you because I don’t want to get too idealistic because we can set up another moral ideal of, oh, I want to, whenever I’m challenged, I want to reliably find way to be resourceful, to move toward healing and well-being. Jeez, I failed 9 out of 10 times.
Robert Strock: (06:02)
Well, 9 out of 10 times to catch 1 of 10 at first, that’s an enormous success. And so, it’s never too late to keep evolving and it’s never worthwhile to criticize yourself for your past when it’s not going to be a motivation that inspires you. If it’s what we might call healthy doubt, and just saying, God, I haven’t given this enough tension. And that leads you to put stickers on your refrigerator and your bedroom, fine, but it’s not to set up an ideal that is really a crucifixion. This in my experience of having this meeting of your challenging feelings, which again, as I’m speaking, please face yours that are existing most today. And that you anticipate in the near future with discovering what needs would be most helpful to you. This marriage is a holy marriage. It is an integrated marriage. It is an acceptance of all of you.
Robert Strock: (07:12)
It isn’t piecemealing yourself. It isn’t compartmentalizing it. Isn’t trying to only be the good you, and so-called, and rejecting the not so good you. This is not being judgmental. This is being, yes, introspective, and even more important than being introspective. That’s just a starting point. It’s also being resourceful. So, it starts with authentically facing what is difficult and then letting it naturally lead you to inquire, how do I, how do we best take care of ourselves? And those around us, this is what I truly wish we all learned from the day we were born energetically when we were too young to know what was happening, but an aspiration for parents and aspiration for teachers, schoolteachers, spiritual teachers, religious teachers, ministers, corporate leaders, political leaders. This is an aspiration to be human and to, if we’re going to idealize anything, it’s that we’re human beings attempting to be our best selves, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to act like we are our best selves. When we clearly are in our human states, we are going to be doing our best to support you, to support ourselves, even while we’re talking to integrate these two as much as possible together. So, I’d like to start off by introducing Dave, who has been my dear dear friend for, uh, five decades and my partner to Global Bridge Foundation.
Thank you. Great to be here. Uh, these, as you said, are, are really the place where we get to implement all the things that have come to this point and we got to really ground it in our daily life, and I’m again, looking forward.
Robert Strock: (09:23)
Oh, thanks for that, so am I. So, in the last episode, we really talked dominantly about the distinction between desire and needs and desire for those of you that didn’t listen to the last episode. And I would certainly encourage you if you started here to go to listen to the last episode, desires are distinguished from me in two categories. One category are desires that are completely unrealistic. Like you want to be taller. You, you want your partner to change in ways that they don’t want to change. You want the weather to be different than it was. You wanted to have a different childhood and on and on. And then the other kind of desires, which are innocent and a part of being human and perfectly fine, but they’re not rooted necessarily in the, what we’re calling the 75 core needs. They’re more individually pleasurable enjoyable. And of course that’s part of a good life.
Robert Strock: (10:34)
But when those desires that are possible, that are fun and enjoyable are interrupted. We can have the same kind of suffering as when our needs are for it. And so, it’s very important that you, that we all recognize which desires do we have, where we’re most vulnerable to having lead us into a certain kind of suffering and how do we navigate from there. So, I like to start off with asking you to ask yourself what has been the greatest desire in your life that’s caused the most suffering or perhaps even what desire is causing the most suffering right now that is occurring in your life. So. I’ll give you a little bit of a guided, a meditation of sorts, simplistically, where it may be that you want to be in better health. I mean, a perfectly natural desire. And you then ask yourself to come in with a need that says, okay, how can I best take care of my health?
Robert Strock: (11:50)
Or it might be a desire to have a pleasurable day at the beach, or it might be to have a pleasurable day in France or something like that. How is it that those feelings arise in you when your desires are thwarted? And how do you want to guide yourself with starting with a question? Like how can I best take care of myself? Given my desires are either impossible or, or are, they’re not able to be, I mean, let’s say permanently impossible or in this moment are impossible. So, they may be ones that are realistic or unrealistic, but whichever ones they are, how do I support myself? So just see where you get caught and see if you can find that question in your words, that you can imagine yourself implementing when you’re suffering from one of these desires, your desires.
I shouldn’t, what about desires gone awry? What about desires for power? What about so many of the things I won’t mention them because I will absorb myself in discouragement that I see happening around the world. Um, where do those fit in?
Robert Strock: (13:26)
Well, it’s a great question when individuals, and, and unfortunately, as you’re saying, I would say for most people in the world, especially the have world, not the have not world, but in the have world desires are even more central the needs. And the reason why the world has always had war, the reason why we’ve had such a hard time with quote, and I smile, as I say this, “finding the right religion, finding the right spiritual path is because we believe there’s a right spiritual path and that’s the desire.” That’s not a need, needs are more grounded, they’re facing reality. There is no one superior religion. There is no one superior spiritual approach. And so, whether it’s that desire or whether it’s desire for power or wealth, including corruption, whether it’s a desire that because of power and wealth leads to us polluting the planet, what, what can we do?
Robert Strock: (14:49)
Well, what, how, how do we look at that? Well, we look at that as someone being lost, we look at somebody as being unconscious and, you know, early in my life, one of my earlier teachers said something to me, paraphrase like, uh, don’t ever believe that you can change another person’s unconscious because it’s so important that you not get grandiose because that’s your desire to change their desire. So, what we can do is make our best efforts to wake ourselves up from the desires that are delusional, but, but more importantly, recognize that people that have desires, who appear to be on top of the world, appear to have everything, appear to be happy. Now it makes me think of, uh, a close friend of mine, whose brother at that time, this is like 35 years ago, and he said, my brother, you know, brother he’s, he was successful in therapy.
Robert Strock: (15:57)
He’s a multimillionaire, he’s got a wife that he loves. You know, he, he’s, he’s happy all the time. And look at me, I was a failure at therapy, you know, I, I’m, I’m living alone, ya know, and he had the whole laundry list of, of the comparative. And I said to him at the time, 35 years ago, that’s bullshit, your, your, your brother’s a narcissist who’s, who’s given you a bill of goods and it’s all based on desire. He wasn’t successfully therapized, he’s lost in the dream. He’s lost in the dream of thinking that wealth and power are going to make him happy. Well, 30 years later, the brother’s now feeble and is in his late eighties with his younger brother being in the middle eighties and he’s basically relying on him for discovering how can I take care of myself, while I’ve lost all these capacities? And the tables have completely turned.
Robert Strock: (16:54)
And so what, what we need to do is do our best, not to judge, not to just be angry and more realistically, we’re going to judge and we’re going to be angry, but not to let that consume us and be able to see people that are living the life of desire that appear to be on top of the world, because that’s the most painful part of people that are living in desires. And, and let’s say, “have made it,” quote and they’re living the American dream, is that they appear to be happier than we are and so we’re, we’re confused. They don’t seem to have challenges, but realizing number one, that they’re, they’re living in a land of make-believe they’re, they’re, they’re living in illusion and sooner, rather than later, they’re going to be facing real things like illness and people around them dying, or the, or something’s going to go wrong and not going to be on top of the world anymore because their life is like built on, on, you know, on a beach.
Robert Strock: (18:05)
You know, there’s, there’s no roots, they have wings they’re flying, but their roots are not in the ground. And so, needs are based on facing reality and being resourceful. And they involve an interconnectedness with others and people that are living dominantly with desires are self-centered, but they’re not caring about, in a significant way. I’m not saying they’re not caring at all, but they may be getting 2% of their net worth. And then that might, that might be a lot of money relative to what we can give, but 98% of them is self-centered. And so, we need to see that as being in illusion and being sincerely unconscious. Now, when I say sincerely unconscious, of course it’s degrees, there are some people that are doing it consciously and are just stepping on people. Yeah. That makes me think of a story of a microfinance organization that Dave, you and I visited.
Robert Strock: (19:10)
And one of, one of the players was what appeared to be in a land of unbelievably essential needs, running the largest micro-finance, uh, entity in the world at the time. Now micro-finance is for those that are not getting loans $100 to $200 loans to largely third-world village women, to help them expand their self-sufficiency. And when we visited him in India, about 15 years ago, he was saying he came to the United States, and he studied Walmart and he studied McDonald’s and saw how they went to scale. And he was accruing 100,000 borrowers a month. So we asked, how do you, how are you doing that? Well, it’s actually not that hard. I’m going to all the programs that have been working, you know, for 10, 20 years that have 100,000, 200,000 borrowers. And because that’s all they have, and we’re now in the, in the multi-millions, they, they have to have an interest rate they can offer them and we can offer them a lower interest rate.
Robert Strock: (20:16)
So we’re just, we’re just helping them. So, we’re just taking over the micro-finance industry. So I said, why don’t you, why aren’t you looking to expand into areas that don’t have any support, rather than capitalizing? And I really literally mean capitalizing on people that have already dedicated themselves towards something good and not, not sabotaging their great efforts. Anyway, long story short, years later, a couple of years later, the whole micro-finance industry in India was shut down because what he was doing was putting so much pressure on the borrowers to pay back the interest rates. And by the way, the way it worked was 30 borrowers would be together and they were co-responsible for each other. And the ones that couldn’t pay back the debts felt so much pressure that they were committing suicide.
Robert Strock: (21:10)
And so, there were so many suicides, but they put the whole industry on hold. Now that’s how it can appear that he, uh, he was a rockstar, because he was a, uh, uh, compassionate humanitarian spiritual rockstar in the eyes of people. And of course there was no sharing of human elements, but then it all came crashing down. And the corruption of a moving always from desire was always there, but it appeared like needs. So, it’s so important that we really discern is there this interconnectedness. And if there isn’t and we see a person who’s living in desires, look at our Hollywood movie stars, our celebrity athletes, et cetera. And, and we, we look at them and yes, that part is desire. And yes, it does oftentimes take great discipline. So, this is not that there aren’t, let’s say essential qualities that they’ve mastered to fulfill the desires, but if their end point is desire, then what’s gonna, they, they too will be caught in life because everyone is going to die.
Robert Strock: (22:23)
Everyone is going to face loss and a deep level. Now some of those people that have lived that life of desire do transform it into needs. Some of them are much more mixed, but the key thing is our attitude. We need to be careful that we’re not unconsciously feeling envious, competitive, jealous, inadequate, and that we face our challenging feelings when we’re looking at people that have desire. And instead of being against them, we need before their needs and our needs. So instead of just being protestors, we need to be inspirers. We need to be advocates for what is interconnected needs. Now I will be one of the first ones to say that I have a lot of anger and I don’t mind being angry. I actually enjoy my anger because it’s not out of control very often. Um, and, and so I listened to the anger and it says, I’m so off at the, at the lack of human acknowledgement by, uh, by the leaders, by the people that are, you know, pretending to be enlightened, to be completely mindful, to be, to be, to have faith, to, to be the leader of the greatest country in the free world to have God Bless America, have all, all these things, but not the rest of the world have all these things that are rooted in desire.
Robert Strock: (23:56)
And so we need to be careful that we aren’t out of our desire to kill their desire, losing touch with our own needs and our own humanity. And as Jesus said on the cross, forgive them for they know not what they do. I believe that has been one of the great teachings of all time. So, I’m not going to go as far as forgive because [He’s] just a little bit more evolved than me. Um, and I say that with a smile, because I’m not trying to come close to comparing myself, but to be able to tolerate or barely tolerate, which is more where I vacillate between those two, that are people that are sort of the heroes of the superficial world and largely run the world. They know that if we look at the powerful countries that have existed in the history of mankind, they’ve been rooted in desires for power and wealth. And so, are we going to spend our time just hating them, or are we going to spend our time trying to find the roots of how we germinate seeds of universal needs in ourselves and others? How can we be for something, rather than being caught against something? That’s what our challenge is.
Just want to add to that, another question for you. Cause it’s the protest aspect of the, the anger aspect, aspect of it. And then there’s the emulation aspect of it. And being caught up for so many years, not being around for the crash and fall, not necessarily knowing about the micro-finance head and the consequences of what he did, but just seeing, wow, look what he did, look what he amassed and aspiring to do exactly the same thing. And so many years of life spent trying to emulate.
Robert Strock: (25:59)
Yeah. Well, in a certain way in the power sector, you’ve just talked about the story of humanity. And I say that with really, really deep remorse, you know, that, that if we look at humanity in a realistic way, in terms of the power spectrum of the nations on earth, and we look at how many of the most powerful countries at any point in time, and the history of mankind have dedicated their wealth to the have nots. It leaves me in silence. It leaves me speechless. And so, the emulators have continued to emulate. There’s, there’s been an endless series of that being why I believe we’re in the dilemma we’re in with global warming, because desire has been the leader of mankind and universal needs have been a distant second place. And so, what you’re bringing out is a very, very important point. And it also leads to how important it is that those that have power and wealth reveal their challenges.
Robert Strock: (27:18)
And it’s a, let’s call it a destructive partnership that not only are they glorifying to some extent or to a large extent in their power, they’re also suppressing their challenges and their, in their persona of well-being and inspiration and leadership. I mean, it’s important to recognize that Adolf Hitler in his own mind and his followers that were there in their own minds were idealists. They were trying to help the world. As matter of fact, it’s important to see that the white nationalists in their own mind are idealists, but they’re in desire, their desire for power unconsciously, but they believe that those poor, poor fucks like us who are trying to make everybody equal, it doesn’t see the obviousness of white superiority. And they’re the only ones that aren’t sentimental. Then we, the whites that are, that are believing that there’s equality in all human beings are delusional.
Robert Strock: (28:30)
And part of when that really came clear to me was when I was asking myself, how would I communicate with the white nationalists? How, how would I really communicate? And I, I realized that they really are idealists in their own mind. And so it would be something like given how clear you are, that the superior intelligence superior traits resiliency in every way, superiority, it must be hard for you to deal with us. Tell me about that. So, I joined their world. So, we need to find a way, even with those people that we have pins against, or that we’re emulating, we need to find a way let’s say when we’re emulating to see and to investigate are these qualities that we’re going for greater power, greater celebrity, greater supreme athleticism, uh, greater wealth. We need to see whether or not this is something that is actually treating others.
Robert Strock: (29:47)
Like we want to be treated. And if we are treating others, at least to a fair extent, like we want to be treated. We are narcissistic, we are self-centered. And that not narcissism, that self-centeredness, that when we’re emulating those qualities, that is why we are in the imperiled state that we’re in. That is why we’re, so self-centered, we all need to dig deep to not emulate those that are in the appearance of having it all. Now in my practice for the last 30 years, I have specialized with people who have been very successful and realize that they’re empty, realize that they, they, they were, they were basically significantly, uh, partially diluted and they don’t feel fulfilled. They don’t feel happy. They know there’s something missing. And that key thing is they don’t want people to emulate them. They don’t even want to emulate themselves. And so, the key is recognizing that we want to be for and trust our essential needs.
Robert Strock: (31:07)
We want to stay with being aware of our challenges. We want to see that they have not been facing, or at least acknowledging for sure their challenges, which is part of how they’ve gained the power. Uh, last, last little point before we wind down, you know, I was in a, in a men’s group and in the men’s group, you know, we were talking about what your deepest challenges are. And I saw how a level, and of course it got deeper, this is early in the men’s group, but I saw how the way power’s kept ,it’s like the deepest challenge is something that is like a pimple. It’s just, it’s just not a very significant challenge. It’s not a challenge to your integrity. It’s not a terror it’s not a deep grief. And so, the way the powerful stay powerful, the way the people that are living in that persona do it is by denial of the human element.
Robert Strock: (32:11)
So of course, it appears more shiny and more perfect. And so, for those of us that are really looking to live a life of fulfillment, it’s important not to be lost in the envy of the shiny objects of people that have run our societies throughout history. And to see that the definition of success so often has excluded interconnectedness, excluded transparency, excluded poverty, has excluded, true equality, has excluded caring for others as we want to be cared for. And that will ground us into what we intuitively know and not let us get distracted in wanting to be emulating those that have what appears to be at all. So again, now I would really like to thank you all for your attention. And hopefully as I’m speaking about being envious or feeling inadequate, that you can see who is your shiny object and how they really revealed their challenges, are they really helping others in a significant way? If they have a lot, are they really just getting a token amount? It might seem like a lot. Are they idealizing our country and not recognizing our country’s only great, if we’re greatest in helping the world, you know, to take a close look at that and really see what your shiny objects are, but the people are that you’ve idealized and maybe take a deeper look at that. Thank you so much again for your attention. Thank you.
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