Less Emotional Pain is Not Happiness

By Greg Baer M.D.

April 12, 2019

Living with a High Level of Emotional Pain. 

Almost all the people you talk to are experiencing a fairly high level of emotional pain. They have little to no experience with feeling unconditionally loved. That lack of love guarantees that they are in pain. They've been in pain for so long and with such regularity that pain has become their accustomed state. For them, their level of emotional pain is normal.

For example, as I talked with a man for several minutes, it was obvious that he was enduring a living hell. He and his wife rarely spoke, his children fought frequently, and more. I asked him if he was happy, and he said, "Yes." He meant it. His level of emotional pain was normal.

Measuring the Level of Emotional Pain

Let's quantify that pain.  We can't accurately measure emotional pain in units like pounds or liters so let's use "levels." Let's assume that most people are in an average state of emotional pain at a level of 5 out of 10. This is not far from the truth. It might be closer to 6. For them, Level 5 pain would then be "normal."

Now imagine that people at level 5 pain are inconvenienced in some way. Or they experience the anger of another person. Their pain rises to a level 7, and they begin to describe anxiety, fear, and stress. All these negative feelings were already there at level 5, but they were simply not remarkable. The present anger or inconvenience raises the  level of emotional pain to the point where it's noticeable. Consequently, the present event is blamed—incorrectly—as the cause of the pain.

Now suppose that again we look at one of these average people who live at an emotional pain level of 5. Then they get a promotion, or someone compliments them, or they have sex. Their pain drops to a level 2 or 3, and that reduction in pain feels wonderful. There is almost nothing that feels as good as pain relief. This is usually interpreted as a kind of happiness. If I were hitting you in the head with a hammer, you would be very "happy" if I stopped.

Relief of Emotional Pain is Just Surviving

Because pain relief feels so good, it tends to become our primary goal. Since nearly all people lack sufficient love, they are always in some degree of emotional pain. They are motivated all day by some desire to minimize their pain. Pain reduction becomes an ingrained habit, even an addiction. We do it so often that we don't even recognize we're doing it.

Once we've accepted pain relief as happiness, we're doomed.  Our entire lives become unending series of events that either increase or decrease our level of emotional pain. Why is that a problem? Because whether an event worsens or diminishes our pain, we're still in pain. We live in a world where the standard is PAIN. That's no way to live. In fact, minimizing emotional pain isn't living at all; it's just surviving.

Surviving is being in the middle of the ocean, struggling just below the surface while breathing through a tube whose other end is just above the water. Every passing wave of any significant size puts water in your throat and provokes paroxysms of coughing. You can lengthen the tube, but the improvement is temporary and illusory—much like with all forms of Imitation Love and all Getting and Protecting Behaviors—because you're still in the middle of the ocean and a hair's breadth from drowning.

All the behaviors intended to make us survive, in fact, become obstacles to true living. While I'm focusing on breathing through a tube, for example, I can hardly be joyful. There is little else I can do but focus on surviving, so if, for example, a cruise ship passes by—with infinitely more choices for real joy—I'll miss the entire experience.

It's Not Enough to Just Survive

No matter how much we move from less pain to more pain, our experience is still measured in negative pain units. As we minimize our level of emotional pain, we become imprisoned in that world. We move from a level 8 (minus 8) to a level 3 (minus 3), and we think we've accomplished something. But we're living in a prison of pain, failing to recognize that there is another entire world out there called happiness. While we're focused on pain, we don't even enter the world of happiness.

It's not enough to survive. You want to live in a world of joy. It's not enough to move from a Minus-Five to a Minus-Two. Less emotional pain is not happiness. You want to leap past survival and follow the laws that govern happiness. You want to take the steps that steadily lead you up the mountain of joy and give you increasingly breathtaking vistas.

What You Can Do

Listen to Real Love, The truth about finding unconditional love & fulfilling relationships. Practice putting these principles into your life with the Companion to Real Love Workbook. Experience true happiness, not just a lower level of emotional pain. You are worth it.

Don't know where to start?

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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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