Real Love is Counter-Intuitive

By Greg Baer M.D.

March 16, 2018

The lack of unconditional love in the world is so severe that nearly everyone you meet is in pain, which means they are afraid and protecting themselves.

Recently during a seminar I made the offhand comment that we are protecting ourselves almost all day, every day. We do that because we’re afraid of something that might happen to us, of making a mistake, and—most of all—of being unloved and alone. I added that the less we protect ourselves, the safer we feel.

Instantly the room became quiet as the audience either thought deeply about that, or looked puzzled, or wrote it down. After several seconds, one woman said, “That’s completely counter-intuitive.”

Hmmm, depends on your definition of “intuition.”

The first definition—the older, more established one—is an awareness or knowledge not based on rational thought. This definition turns intuition into a kind of unexplainable—nearly mystical—concept. This is the intuition that tells us to call our mother on the other side of the country in the middle of the night, and her gasping reply alerts us to call the ambulance that saves her life.

Increasingly, however, learning theorists are regarding intuition as the total sum of a lifetime of observations, experiences, decisions, and more—the unconscious sum of all our rational knowledge. To illustrate further, with our rational mind we make simple decisions, like putting on a coat when the weather is cold. With our intuition—the “unconscious sum” kind—we enter a roomful of strangers and are inexplicably drawn to one person. The attraction is based on thousands of past experiences, most of which we don’t even remember.

When I said that the less we protect ourselves, the safer we feel, the woman who found that to be “counter-intuitive” was using the second definition of intuition, although she didn’t realize it. She was really saying that my expression contradicted her entire lifetime of experience, decisions, and reflexes. Every time she had felt afraid, she had learned to immediately and reflexively defend herself. Simply taking action made her feel less helpless, and sometimes it actually stopped the real or perceived threat, so in her world protecting herself was indivisibly linked to the feeling of safety.

But then I sat next to this same woman, and held both her hands, and looked into her eyes. She wept. “Do you feel safe?” I asked.

“Completely,” she said, even though this was the first time we’d met.

“And you’re not protecting yourself at all, are you?”

“No,” she said, as the tears continued to stream down her face.

Then she understood intuitively—using the first definition above, where she was powerfully understanding something that couldn’t be rationally explained—that we feel safer when we’re not protecting ourselves.

I have spoken with security consultants who have told me that the more security they install in a house, the LESS safe the owners feel. They start imagining all the threats for which the system exists. Similarly, people who carry a gun see dangers where there are none. Their feeling of safety is an illusion. If I put a sword in your hand and run away, you’ll start looking for the reasons I might have given it to you.

The more unconditionally loved we feel, the more power and genuine safety we feel. We have that one thing—love—that is more valuable than everything else, so then what is there to fear?

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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