QA184 QUESTION: For the past several months, I have been very interested in appearance, in really superficial things, and I’m feeling pretty displeased with myself about that, and less and less in touch with things that are really meaningful. Also I’m feeling a sense of inferiority socially – as if I’m not glib enough. I’m worried about it. Recently, I had a strange dream where there was some horrible person who was like a detective, and they found him out because they looked at his knees and they couldn’t bend. I’ve always felt there was something too stiff about my knees. Recently, my left knee has been getting kind of stiff and painful and I’m just feeling out of sorts, as if there’s something not smoothly functioning there. Also my left elbow. And I’ve had a very peculiar kind of pretty bad pain on my right side, in my chest and in my back. And I’m wondering if you could say anything about it?
ANSWER: Yes. Well, first of all, I would like to say that your concern with outer appearance is in itself a positive manifestation, surprising as this may seem to you. It is positive in two ways. In the first place, because you are merely now bringing out into consciousness what has always existed but which you had denied, so it is progress that you are aware of this previously denied feeling about yourself.
In your denial in the past, you have gone to the opposite extreme, which always happens. It is as though one has to prove to oneself one really doesn’t mind about the appearance, in this case, and so you do exactly the opposite – you did that. And now the second aspect of the progress lies in that you want to make your appearance better and you have indeed succeeded to do so.
QUESTION: I don’t just mean the physical appearance.
ANSWER: No, but this is part of it. This is part of it. And of course, it means there’s some material well-being, doesn’t it? And success. A person who only pays attention to the outer appearance and to the material success is as far away from the truth as he who totally denies them, because they are indeed expressions of a well-functioning, integrated being. Somebody who is integrated will not totally deny the pleasure that a success in material things also brings.
QUESTION: I’m not just speaking about that sort of thing, though. I feel slightly inferior sometimes towards people who are just really glib, sharp characters, even if I don’t think very highly of them; and I get very tongue-tied in talking with them.
ANSWER: Yes, this is another aspect of inferiority. These others I mentioned: the aspect of not being able to care for yourself, to make a success materially, which you felt very inferior about, and the physical appearance as well – your body. Now, this is another aspect of it. There are still more aspects of it. And I will not necessarily go into all of them now.
I say that you have brought some of the inferiority feelings that you had denied into your consciousness, and have begun to deliberately do something about it. And that is progress.
Now I come to the other part of your question, and that is the physical manifestations you speak about. The dream about the stiffness in the knee – and the actual stiffness in the knee – symbolize a certain rigidity in you, a certain resistance to bend, to give in, to be flexible, and that is a very important obstruction in you.
That, of course, is a defense, in a sense, that is supposed to safeguard you against an inner suspected weakness. Now, you have to face that weakness in order to bring out your real strength, which is flexible. You have to stop fearing the apparent shamefulness of accepting something new, to give up an old idea, etcetera.
This attitude does exist in you, although it has improved. Now, it is also exceedingly important for you to learn to love your body, to work with your body, more and more. And not just work with your body in a mechanical, resisting way, but in an open way, in a willing way, in a way that allows for the feelings to come through. This is very important.
Then the flow will be established and your self-acceptance will grow. I would say this is very, very important, and also that you open up more in this year. I can foresee this and I think the possibility is given that in this work, you will open up more – you have made progress and the ground is prepared – that you can give up some of your defenses, that you can make yourself vulnerable, my friend, which you are so terribly afraid of doing. Make yourself vulnerable.