“If almost all emotions come from meaning and I no longer give meaning to events, does that mean I won’t have any more positive emotions?”

A concerned woman in my current Lefkoe Freedom Course asked me this question last week and I think that everyone who reads my blog would be interested in my answer.  I’d bet that most of you would like to stop the suffering that comes from negative meanings and yet most of you would not want to lose your ability to experience positive emotions.

bigstock-Woman-hiding-under-the-happy-m-110513As I’ve explained in many posts in the past, it is possible to get rid of almost all your emotional stress and suffering by getting rid of your negative emotions, which you can do by getting to the point where you automatically dissolve the meaning you give moment-to-moment events.  But if you automatically dissolve the meaning you give to all events, you will stop positive as well as negative emotions.  And who wants to live a life without positive emotions?

So is automatically dissolving all meaning really a good idea?  The answer is, yes.

There are three reasons.

  • First, the positive emotions that come from unconsciously-generated meaning are not really justified.
  • Second, the unconsciously- and automatically-generated meanings that lead to the positive emotions can easily result in us making poor decisions.
  • Third, there are two good ways to consciously generate positive emotions that won’t lead to trouble.

We’re kidding ourselves with positive emotions that come from unconscious meaning

It is important to realize that the meaning we unconscious give to events is never the truth, because events have no inherent meaning.  So any meaning we give an event—positive or negative—exists only in our mind, not in the event itself. 

If we give a positive meaning to an event and that meaning makes us feel good, it is not the event itself that is making us feel good, it is something we made up that is not true that is making us feel good.  In other words, the emotion—although it might feel good—has no real basis in reality.  We are not feeling good because of what actually happened; we are feeling good because of something we unconscious made up that isn’t really the truth.

For example, if your boss says “good job” about a single project, you might unconsciously give his comment the meaning: My boss loves my work.  Obviously that meaning would lead to positive feelings of satisfaction, happiness, and pride.

But notice that you are enjoying positive emotions that aren’t really justified, because the meaning you gave the boss’s comment is not necessarily the truth.  He could have said “good job” to try to motivate you when he actually thought you hadn’t done a very good job at all.  He might have thought you did well on this particular project but overall is not at all satisfied with your work.

Or in a totally different arena, assume you are dating a new person and she does or says something that you unconsciously assume means: She really likes me.  That meaning will probably make you feel really happy.  Why would you ever want to stop or prevent these “good” emotions?

You might not like my answer, but what your partner did or said doesn’t necessarily mean she really likes you.  That is only the unconsciously-created meaning you gave what your partner did or said.  It’s possible she doesn’t really like you and was only trying to be polite and not hurt your feelings.  Is it getting real that, in a sense, all emotions—positive and negative—are fraudulent; they are only based on an unconsciously-created meaning.

In other words, we are enjoying a positive emotion that has no real basis in reality.  We’re only kidding ourselves that the emotion is justified.

Acting on unconsciously created positive meaning could cause us trouble

Moreover, acting on the meaning that caused the positive emotion could cloud our judgment.  Let’s use the same example of a boss who says “Good job” about a project you completed.

If you now walk around assuming that your boss loves your work, you might do things or say things to your boss based on assuming your meaning is true (she loves my work), which your boss would then interpret as inappropriate or confusing because she doesn’t necessarily love your work.

Now let’s look at the relationship example.  If you assume she really likes me, you are likely to do something or say something to your partner that is based on that assumption.  If your partner doesn’t really feel that way, she might feel your behavior is inappropriate and it might make her uncomfortable or even angry.

To sum up:  You might like the positive emotions that come from positive meanings that you were not conscious of creating, but they’re not really justified.  Moreover, the behavior that is based on that meaning is likely to be inappropriate.

So how can I have positive emotions?

The meaning we unconsciously and automatically give to events seems like the truth but really isn’t.  It is possible to look at an event and consciously create a positive meaning that is logically consistent with the event and everything you know about the event, knowing full well that this new meaning is not the truth.

It is important to remember, however, that you have to dissolve the unconsciously-created meaning first.  If you don’t, it will seem so much like the truth that it will be almost impossible for you to accept a new positive assessment you consciously made up.

For example, let’s say there is something you want to do and you start to do it.  Imagine you unconsciously give that event the meaning: I can’t do it.  I’ll fail and look stupid.

If you think that your unconsciously-created meaning is true, there is no way you could consciously analyze the situation and review all the relevant information and then create the positive meaning: It might be difficult at first.  I might even fail the first time.  But every time I try I’ll get better and better until I eventually will be able to succeed.  But once you dissolve the first meaning and realize the event had no inherent meaning, you could consciously create this second meaning as a logical possibility.

Although we think that our unconsciously-created meanings are the truth, we are clear that we “made up” our positive conscious assessments.  But if they are a logically possible way of viewing a situation, we can pretend they are true and have feelings that are consistent with them.  What emotions might this new meaning (success) result in?  Anticipation.  Excitement.  Happiness.

There is a second way to create positive emotions

You know when you play a game that the rules are arbitrary and—unless you are a professional player whose livelihood depends on “winning”—whether you win or lose makes absolutely no difference in “real life.” And yet, when you play a game—be it a board game, a card game, or a sport—you feel good when you do well and feel badly when you do poorly.  In other words, it is possible to have emotions even when you are pretending.

A game is pretending that something is more important than something else, when you know that, in reality, it isn’t.  For example, you “make up” rules that say having all the cards in one suit is better than having three cards match, or that getting a little ball in a hole hundreds of yards away by hitting it with a stick with less “strokes” is better than someone who requires more “strokes.”

It is possible to apply the same principle to life.  If you pretend that something is important—just because you say so—that you will be happy when you succeed and sad when you don’t.  The difference for most people between the emotions they feel when they play life as a game and the emotions that arise from the meaning we unconsciously give events is that the emotions from a game only “go down so far.”

No mater how happy or unhappy we might be at the end of a game, some part of us knows that the game is over and now we will go back to life.  So it is easier, in most cases, to “get over” negative emotions resulting from a game than emotions resulting from “real life.”  On the other hand, even though we know we created the emotions by pretending that something was more important than something else, we are still able to enjoy the positive emotions.

For example, you can say that finishing a given task is more important than not finishing it—not because it really is important but just because you say it is important.  If you do you will experience a positive emotion when you finish it.

Eliminate unconsciously-created meaning and still be happy

It should be clear that enjoying a positive emotion that you think is caused by reality is like being excited about being loved by someone who doesn’t really love you or being very happy about getting a promotion you never received.  You are only fooling yourself.  Moreover, acting as if the meaning is true is likely to cause you to make poor decisions.

On the other hand, it is possible to consciously create meaning you know you made up, that you know isn’t necessarily true but which could possibly be true.  Doing that will enable you to create positive emotions.  Also, using the principles of a game in daily life will enable you to experience negative emotions—that you can easily get over—and positive emotions you can savor and enjoy.

Learn how to dissolve unconsciously created meaning automatically and you will free yourself from suffering.  Then consciously create meaning and enjoy your positive emotions.  It is possible to have it all.


Thanks for reading my blog.  Please post your questions or comments about why pretending unconscious-created meaning and the emotions they cause are true is never useful, and how to create positive emotions.  Your comments will add value for thousands of readers.  I read them all and respond to as many as I can.

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Copyright © 2013 Morty Lefkoe



  1. Jennie January 6, 2014 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Further – are we not supposed to have an opinion on anything or attach meaning to anything?! If someone tells me they love me – am I not supposed to attach the meaning that I am loved and feel wonderful about that? If a friend betrays me am I not supposed to attach meaning to that and decide that I no longer need to be friends with them. If nothing has meaning than is there no consequence??

    • Morty Lefkoe January 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Jennie,

      I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t give meaning to events. All of us do, automatically. I’m only saying that the meaning is something we add to events, it isn’t inherent in events. The meaning exists only in our minds.

      The fact that you are loved has no meaning. You can give it the meaning that you are loveable, or a wonderful person, or anything you want. But the fact that one person loves you actually means nothing about you other than one person loves you.

      There are clearly consequences to events. If your home burns down you don’t have a home any more. You need a place to live. That is the consequence. But what do you know for sure about your living conditions for the rest of your life from the fact your house burned down? Nothing.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Love, Morty

  2. Jennie January 6, 2014 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    I’ve just finished the first few beliefs on the Fear of Rejection dvd. My head is spinning. I’ve been a big proponent of the Law of Attraction/Secret world and their basis is that our “feelings” should be our guiding force. That the way we are feeling in any moment is an indication of how we are creating our world. So, how does this work with your method – which seems to be telling me that feelings are false?

    I’ve been struggling with my love life for years because I feel a fear of rejection/abandonment thing and eventually push them away – this is what I’m here to eliminate. I want to be guided by my feelings of love and instinct that this person is right for me but not be lead by the feelings that every little thing they do, that I perceive negatively, is an indication that they don’t love me anymore or don’t think I’m quite as great as they used to.


    • Morty Lefkoe January 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Jeannie,

      Feelings don’t tell you anything about reality because they are created by the meaning you give reality.

      Intuition can sometimes give you useful information. Here is a link to a blog post I wrote that might help clarify this for you. https://www.mortylefkoe.com/whats-difference/

      Love, Morty

  3. Jon November 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    I have one more question, if anyone or morty can help me understand. I just listened to mortys podcast about possibly missing a flight connection, and not getting upset.
    In it the idea is offered that there was no meaning in the event of the announcer saying the flight may be be postponed because it didn’t mean FOR SURE much of anything. So I understand the last part, but isn’t there meaning?
    The meaning I see in the event is “there’s a certain undetermined probability that a flight will be cancelled.” Awesome! That’s useful meaning! Then morty was able to call and make backup plans if needed. If no meaning was taken, that’s equivalent to saying the announcement was in an unintelligible language. Of course there was meaning, to me it’s just a question of WHAT meaning. Does the announcement carry negative meaning? No. I can’t SEE anything in the announcement other than a simple statement of factual estimation by an airline that a plane may not go, based on their information and experience.
    So what I wonder is, am I misunderstanding “meaning”?
    To me the abandonment of any meaning seems unrealistic, and simply not true. Otherwise morty would never have called other airlines.
    What I love about LBP is it seems to deal with reality, so I really want to understand what to me is sounding like hyperbole.

  4. Jon Roberts November 29, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    3 things:
    1. in answer to the question, can’t less meaning equal a positive emotion. I feel a sense of peace joy and a big smile.
    2. I theorize it is impossible for the brain to live without creating some meaning, even to get the mail. And all meaning is based on probabilities that we generalize as “truth”. Useful sometimes, stressful other times. So realizing we are the creators of meaning when it’s stressful can be amazing!
    Thoughts on this?
    3. Do you have other robust explanations of the seeing part of the process. In books or anywhere? Something that explain how this seems to different people? It’s 3 letters and I’m just not sure I’m getting it fully (though I do sense/see it sometimes.) kinesthetic too. Looking for more information! Thanks

  5. Randy November 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    Can you tell me why some people feel like going after a thing they want is a waste of time ?


    • Morty Lefkoe November 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Randy,

      There can be many reasons, one common one being a survival strategy belief: the way to not be disappointed is to not want anything. Or if you believe I’ll never get what I want.


      • Alex November 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm - Reply

        Oh my God… I just realized that I have that belief. God, it makes so much sense! I will eliminate it immediately. Thanks!

  6. LP November 7, 2013 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    I think I have unconsciously believed that eating is pleasurable and so I feel good after eating food and more so after a favourite food. So are you saying I am kidding myself and the event is simply that I have satisfied a hunger with some/any food? And then I make a poor decision by having more food than is necessary to simply satisfy a hunger ie I eat when I am not really hungry with a consequence of being heavier than appropriate for my height and build.
    Is your advice that I consciously create some other meaning or make up some rules for my “game of” eating so I can eat and enjoy food but not to excess?

    • Morty Lefkoe November 7, 2013 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi LP,

      If you are eating to excess, you probably have the problem of emotional eating. That is caused by conditioned triggers and can be resolved with the Lefkoe Behavioral De-conditioning Process.

      I don’t think that has anything to do with giving meaning at the moment.


    • wen November 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Morty,

      Actually I disagree. I think that learning how not to give meaning to things can greatly reduce emotional eating because one has less negative emotions hanging around. The de-conditioning process is important as well, though.

      Also, I see where LP is going with this.

      People who eat emotionally can sometimes ascribe characteristics or associations with food, that is, give ‘meaning’ to the act of eating and to specific foods and the meaning given is that certain foods help one ‘celebrate,’ relax, feel less alone, more fulfilled, etc.

      From a factual stance, there are biochemical reactions in our bodies when we eat foods rich in sugar, fat, or simple carbohydrates so there is pleasure involved. But emotional eaters take it one step further, and give the meaning to eating a ‘favorite food’ (which is just a meaning we have given to a certain food) as more pleasurable than it actually is.

      LP, I challenge you to take your “favorite food” and try to eat it with 200% awareness with no thoughts of anticipation building it up as “pleasurable,” but just noticing what it actually tastes like, sweet salty pungent bitter etc., its texture, the feeling in the mouth, sensation of swallowing it, how it feels in your body, etc., and it may surprise you. The actual, isolated experience of eating that ‘favorite’ food isn’t as pleasurable as it is when you are also adding the meaning to the situation that it is pleasurable.

  7. Karthik November 7, 2013 at 12:29 am - Reply

    Great article!

  8. LaurenLL November 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Since July, my husband has been out of work and the business he worked for is out of business. I used the Occurring Process both consciously and unconsciously as well as the methods in the Advanced Course. Through this time, we’ve picked blackberries and sold them and I have babysat for money. Meanwhile, I have been searching the internet for online businesses. What a trip down the rabbit hole that has been. I’ve learned a lot about the opportunities, even paid out money for these businesses and so far have nothing. However, using the occurring techniques, I am learning that it is a game, too. What game do I want to play? I admit I allowed the “negative” emotions to “trump” the positive ones; the ones I assigned meaning to. Your post reminded me that I am the one deciding, consciously, and allowing my unconscious emotions to generate the positive feelings. Thanks so much for your post; instead of seeing it as a time of desperation, I can treat it as a new beginning and explore all the possibilities.
    Love and Light on your Journey,

    • Morty Lefkoe November 7, 2013 at 10:57 am - Reply

      Hi Lauren,

      Sorry to hear about your difficulties. And I’m happy that the occurring process has been useful. Keep using it; the suffering will stop.

      Love, Morty

  9. tim November 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Sometimes it is just refreshing to accept a comment at face value. If it can bring a smile to your face, that could be a good thing. Maybe it’s temporary, but it sure feels good. Wow, did I miss the point?

    • wen November 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm - Reply


      I am the person mentioned above who got Morty thinking about this. Glad I asked!

      The point is that positive or negative, ALL emotions are the result of the conscious or unconscious meaning we have given to an event (and ‘events’ can include our own thoughts/memories.)

      In that way, we are not really engaging with the world as it is, but how we have decided in our minds, how it is, based on the meaning we apply to the event. In fact no events have meaning in that we can never know anything with absolute certainty about ourselves, other people, or the future. All we know is the facts of what happened and any judgement or evaluation of the situation as “good” or “bad” is what we make up in our minds.

      When a person comes into the full awareness that THEY ARE MAKING EVERYTHING UP in their own minds — that they are actually CREATING the way they are experiencing their lives by virtue of the meaning they ascribe to events and the resulting emotions — it is a heady and powerful realization. You realize that you can control your world/experience, because you can choose your response to things instead of being bandied about by random events.

      Certainly there is nothing wrong with appreciating someone or something, since of course that is very pleasurable. The point is that you have become aware enough that you also realize you ARE choosing to give it a positive meaning and hence feeling, same as if you would be choosing a response to feel stressed or sad about something. In this way you don’t leave yourself open to naivety or gullability. One can reason through things, gather evidence, and choose a rational interpretation of things and decide , “Yes, this is likely to be true, and I’m going to accept/proceed as if it were true” and as a result, have some pleasant feelings. That is a more powerful position than “So and so said X, so it MUST be true” and then filtering events as if it were true even if the other person is deliberately trying to deceive you. I actually had this happen to me once and it shocked me how blinded I was by my own filter.

      I hope I have added some clarity here. Morty is better at explaining!

      • Morty Lefkoe November 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm - Reply

        Hi Wen,

        An absolutely brilliant summary of my position. Couldn’t have stated it better myself.


        Love, Morty

  10. Charles November 6, 2013 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Just a small grammatical pointer: You wrote: “It is important to realize that the meaning we UNCONSCIOUS give to events is never the truth,”

    This should read: “It is important to realize that the meaning we UNCONSCIOUSLY give to events is never the truth,”

    The same error gets repeated just a bit lower in the text.


    • Morty Lefkoe November 6, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Hi Charles,

      Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll fix it.

      Love, Morty

  11. Costel November 6, 2013 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    thank you very much for the valuable articles contributing to understanding better ourselves and to improving the quality of our lives.
    One remark I would make: all the considerations you made are valid if the meanings are about or related to ourselves. What about if the meaning is about something beyond ourselves ?

    • Morty Lefkoe November 6, 2013 at 10:24 am - Reply

      Hi Costel,

      It doesn’t matter if the meaning is about ourselves or others.

      Love, Morty

  12. Julia November 6, 2013 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Excellent post Morty! An opposite spin on what you normally write about that makes so much sense. I have definitely fallen into this unconscious way of thinking many times and ultimately did not serve me well.

  13. Jerry Grad November 6, 2013 at 6:03 am - Reply

    The truth serves.

  14. Ted November 6, 2013 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Wow, I’ve never thought about positive emotions that way before. So basically the main idea is to make sure that your unconciously created meanings aren’t clouding your judgment in certain situations. Because once you give a unconciously meaning to an event, it would be hard for you to consider all of the perspectives.

    I already do what you described (dissolving the meaning and then making up a new one) and that works pretty good. However, I only do that with negative emotions.

    But it would probably be good to do that with all emotions (including positive ones). I know people would counter your example about work saying, “well, if I get fired because I thought by boss loved my work, then I can just use the occuring process to feel good and then continue on with my life, no biggie.”

    Or in the other example about the potential girlfriend. Confidence is key, and you should assume that she likes you because you’re a one and million type of guy.

    However, having said that, there is something good about what you suggested doing with the positive emotions that you didn’t mention. First off, fpr people getting started with the occuring process, it gives you the opportunity to practice even more.

    Secondly, when you do what you described, you are literally becoming a master of your emotions. I think the best part is that you would have the ability to see cleary in any situation without having any emotions pulling you one way or the other. Therefore you’d be able to think about the situation from many perspectives. So basically, it makes you a much more “aware” person.

    Good post Morty! Keep up the good work.


    • Lucio November 6, 2013 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Great post Ted, my thoughts exactly

  15. Alex November 6, 2013 at 5:04 am - Reply

    Very interesting. I loved the part about “we’re kidding ourselves”. Once you realize this, it makes sense to stop turning a blind eye to the fact that even those meanings are self-created.

  16. robert November 6, 2013 at 3:22 am - Reply

    the solution is to live OUT-HERE instead of IN-HERE as says Werner Erhard ?

  17. kashmira November 6, 2013 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Dear Morty
    Your blogs offer good reading better understanding of life’s intricate problems.keep up the good work.

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