QA162 QUESTION: When I came here tonight, I decided to watch myself very closely when I began interacting with people. I noticed immediately when I come into a crowd, even like this, which is I think relatively benign, that I’m extremely hostile and fearful of people. The least sort of feint in my direction will cause me to react very rigidly, which might take the form of somewhat hostile action. I noticed this strong compulsive hostility and also compulsive fear, and would appreciate your comments.
ANSWER: Now, in addition to all the realization and the understanding you have gained so far in your work, I have this to say. And what I am going to say to you I wish you would try to feel, with all your intuitive faculties, rather than attempt an intellectual understanding. For intellectually it will not mean much to you. The inner feeling understanding, however, will open doors to you that will at the same time release you from the grip of that defensive hostility.
Now, it is the following, my friend. When you were a child, your good feelings seemed not to be accepted by your parents. Now this may not actually be true, for they did love you, each in their own way and according to their own capacities.
But they were, as many, many parents are, perhaps not able to recognize when you reached out as a little tot with not only wanting their love, but in your own childlike way giving your love, offering it, feeling it, in the little person you then were.
Now, this was not recognized, because your parents, as most other human beings, were too blind and too entrapped in their own problems and own insecurities and fears and defenses to be open and intuitive enough to comprehend where you reached also with giving, offering your good feelings.
That fact created a tremendous pain in you – much more than all these other incidents of the needles and even the spankings and so on and so forth. Although these might have been painful incidents that hurt you at the moment, that made you defensive and angry at the moment, they were not responsible by themselves for this condition that you have discussed here. It is much rather this factor I have said now.
Now, I think you are today, far enough in your self-understanding that you might be able to reconstruct feeling-wise, not in an intellectual memory of incidents or of anything that you remember or recall in that sense, but the feeling. You may be able to reconstruct, re-experience that feeling of “I want to give my good feelings, my love feelings, and they are not wanted.”
This is not only a threat to an individual, to a child, but it is also a humiliation. It is an infringement on this little individual’s dignity and therefore something very annihilating. Also, of course, it was the misunderstanding of what happened and from the child’s viewpoint, from where you were, from the vantage point of your capacity to understand at that point. It seemed like your good feelings are not wanted, and that is a terrible insult and as I said, a terrible threat.
Your only way out at that time was to become so angry and rejecting and hostile and arrogant and separating. By that wall, you made yourself invulnerable so as not to expose yourself to such renewed humiliations and annihilations. This will explain to you what is going on, and it will be more than an explanation if you can recreate that kind of feeling when you can feel the good feelings coming out of you and at the same time a pulling back: “It is a threat, I must not.” Do you understand what I mean?
QUESTION: Yes, it seems that I’m very much alert to other people’s coming at me in a very hostile manner – I’m picking up the slightest thing, the slightest innuendo. Is this somehow a manifestation of my wanting to give, but not being able to?
ANSWER: Yes, I would put it this way. At one time you had perhaps gone through a process – unthinkingly, unknowingly, almost automatically – that you would have said to yourself, “This is such a threat, this is such a terrible disaster, this is such a humiliation, that I must never, never risk anything like it; therefore, each and every manifestation or expression of another person coming out at me, I must immediately interpret as the worst, for that would protect me and will not leave me hoping and open – so in that way I am protected.”
Thereby, you instituted a deliberate exaggeration. It is the same kind of mechanism if a person fears disappointment. He becomes very pessimistic, so that he can no longer be disappointed. It is that kind of mechanism that has then become automatic, but that you first had instituted as a deliberate defense, so as not to expose yourself with hope and therefore with disappointment and the vulnerable openness that would be necessary in order to exchange good feelings.
Now, the road out would be that what seemed as a threat to a child is really, for an adult, not at all a threat. The important thing now is that you learn to condition yourself to be able to have good feelings and even if the other person is unable to respond to them or to initiate them toward you, this does not mean what you thought it meant. It is their problem. And once you truly understand this, there will be no threat. On the contrary. You will then find that it is the only safe way to exist.