Do you experience mental pain and suffering from time to time?  Most of us have those unpleasant experiences far more often than we’d like, so we search for a way to get rid of them.  Here are several possible approaches.

First, we can try to suppress them.  If we aren’t aware of them, they can’t hurt us.  We aren’t necessarily consciously aware of shutting down and numbing ourselves to our internal state, but doing this is a common approach to stopping our experience of unpleasant feelings.  Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, it is very difficult to suppress pain and suffering constantly.  It’s like holding a beach ball filled with air underwater.  With enough effort and concentration you can do it for a while, but eventually you will forget and the ball will pop to the surface.  As a result this is probably the least effective approach.

Second, we can cover them with some type of addiction.  Addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, etc. are all attempts either to deaden ourselves in order to stop feeling pain or to increase our endorphins so we feel good.  Addictions can sometimes cover up our pain in the short run, but the long-term consequences of an addiction are usually far worse than the pain could ever be.

Third, we can try psychotherapy.  Although there are many different forms of psychotherapy and most are very different from each other, almost all of them assume that pain and suffering are inevitable.  As a result their goal is to teach you how to deal with them as effectively as possible.  Luckily, some therapies can be very effective in helping us deal with our pain and suffering.

Fourth, we can turn to spirituality.  A spiritual path has a lot of important benefits, but trying to transcend one’s pain and suffering to avoid dealing with it can be a trap.  Being in a non-dual state is a powerful experience, but it does not necessarily change one’s experience as a “creation.”

Jack Kornfield, an American who spent years meditating in the East, writes how he experienced dissolving into white light and being at one with the universe and yet when he got home had the same relationship problems he left with.

If you don’t use spirituality as an escape from your pain and suffering, it can be extremely valuable.  Realizing that you are something more than your body, thoughts, and feelings can be very liberating.  Recognizing that you are a manifestation of something bigger than yourself can be very empowering.  A spiritual practice only becomes a problem when you use it to pretend that it is sufficient to deal with the concerns of your “creation,” including pain and suffering.

As the philosopher Ken Wilber has pointed out, a spiritual practice is not a substitute for dealing with our day to day psychological problems.

Fifth, we can acknowledge that pain and suffering are not inevitable.  They are the result of the meaning we give eventsOnce we realize that, we can dissolve the meaning, thereby eliminating our pain and suffering, instead of assuming they are inevitable and trying to cope with them.

As I’ve explained many times in this blog, events have no inherent meaning.  As a result, events cannot make us feel anything.  And if they can’t make us feel anything, events can’t produce mental pain and suffering.  So where do our pain and suffering come from?  The meaning we give both internal and external events as they happen.

For example, imagine you lose your job.  It seems as if that event is causing you pain and suffering.  It is not.  If we experience pain and suffering it is the result of giving the event the meaning: This is a disaster.  I will have a hard time getting another comparable job.  That meaning would inevitably lead to pain and suffering.  On the other hand, if you gave the same event the meaning: This is an opportunity to start my own business, or do what I’ve always wanted to do, or move to a different location where I’ve always wanted to live and work there, etc., the same event would lead to joy and excitement.

Suffering is not necessary

The common idea that human beings are born to suffer is nonsense.  It is possible to fully acknowledge your pain and suffering, and then get rid of it in moments.  How?  Identify the meaning you are giving events that is causing the pain and suffering, and then dissolve the meaning, thereby dissolving the pain and suffering.

How to use this post to improve your life   

For one week be aware every time you experience any mental pain or suffering.  Don’t suppress it; experience it fully for just a moment.  Then ask yourself, what meaning did I just give to an event that could cause what I’m feeling?  When you make a clear distinction between the event and how the event occurs to you, the meaning will dissolve along with any feelings caused by the meaning.

This really does work.  Try it for one week and then come back here and write your experience of doing this exercise.

For more details about our occurrings and how to dissolve them, see an earlier post:

Please comment on this post and write your results from the exercise.

Your comments and questions increase the value we all receive.  I read them all and respond to as many as I can.

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Copyright ©2012 Morty Lefkoe


  1. Quaid July 26, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

    This is completely useless if you drop all of your pancakes.

  2. Ric Gulley October 24, 2012 at 7:38 am - Reply

    Morty, I started reading “The Secret” yesterday after watching the DVD several years earlier. I found you by going to Dr. Joe Vitale’s web site and read his version of your dinner meeting with him. I find that LOA makes sense but it is not magical and it requires action. I think many people look for magical and froget “action”. I’m a therapist and believe in CBT as the way to understand what is going on in a life. I believe it is necessary to develop an understanding of how thoughts, feelings and behavior relate. I

    I was diagnosed with cancer on 10/16/12 and immediately had a negative perception of the event. I believe that it is not the event that is important but the perception of the event. My immedaite reaction versus response to the event was based on negative bel;iefs. However, once I decided to view the event differently in a positive attitude I began to change almost immediately. I began to focus on my healthy life style for the past 40+ years and realized that it is in fact for a reason. My belief changed from this is catastrophic to this is merely a new challenge and journey that I face. Once I started thinking in those terms everything changed, my thoughts, my beliefs about cancer and I initiated action to resolve this situation. I’m writing because I read your 5 ways to avoid pain and suffering and I agree. Your article confirmed that I was addressing my experience in a healthy manner. It goes with my belief that thoughts are the driving force in life. LOA also comfirmed that I am definitely on the right track to attract positive “likes” using my thought process, beliefs and action.
    Thank you,

  3. Muza October 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    Can’t get one thing, I’m trying to dissolve occurings, as I got its just like accepting and seeing the reality. My problem is that for last several month I’m trying to accept that my partner left me. Dissolving the occuring but still the suffering comes back. Could your, please, give some advice where to move on?


    • Morty Lefkoe November 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Muza,

      If you really are dissolving the meaning, and the suffering comes back, then you are continually giving the same meaning to the same event, over and over.

      You can keep dissolving your occurring or you can figure out what beliefs are causing you to give the meaning you are giving and eliminate those beliefs.

      Love, Morty

  4. Junda October 19, 2012 at 11:20 am - Reply

    The words you use, giving meaning to meaningless events comes
    directly from the Course in Miracles. Are you a student?

    • Morty Lefkoe November 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Junda,

      No I’m not. But I have found a way to help people stop giving meaning to events or dissolve the meaning once they have given it.

      Love, Morty

  5. debbie October 18, 2012 at 4:59 am - Reply

    i totally understand that we learn from certain experiences and that it is the meaning we give to them that causes the pain and suffering. However, what if my child were to die or was kidnapped. i don’t think any human could look at that in a positive way and not feel pain or suffering.

  6. Bill Nonte October 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Great post Morty!

    Thought of the Lefkoe Method last night while watching the Presidential debate. Different people declared each candidate the winner. Some people loved one candidate and some loved the other…but the words they heard were the same! How can this be?? Lefkoe-ites know. Because people attached a different meaning to the same words. The words (events) cause no emotion at is the meanings we assign to those words that do.

    Thanks to you and Shelly for helping me see the “light”:)


  7. jason linder October 17, 2012 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Hey Morty,

    good post. It would be important to make a distinction here between pain and suffering. Pain is more physical and occurs when you break a bone or loose a loved one; pain in this sense is inevitable. Suffering, on the other hand, isn’t. Suffering is when you fight with reality, when you don’t accept what is, when you try to suppress your negative feelings, which often creates more unnecessary pain (suffering). The Lefkoe I know can help eliminate suffering but not pain. agreed? love Jason

    • Morty Lefkoe October 17, 2012 at 8:52 am - Reply

      Hi Jason,

      I used the phrase mental pain several times to clarify what I meant.

      Thanks for reading and posting.

      Love, Morty

    • debbie October 18, 2012 at 5:01 am - Reply

      suffering does actually cause physical pain. like anxiety or exhaustion etc

  8. Phyllis October 17, 2012 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Thank you for your wonderful words. Love the simplicity of their presentation. All these comments too are so comforting and to know that others experience the same things. Wonderful support. Thanks to everyone.

  9. mayuk October 17, 2012 at 5:39 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    if some body want a job or a car and they really want it, its a true desire but they are not getting it or attracting it ,then should it be that like to figure out what beliefs are stopping them to get what they want ,after doing lbp will they get or do they have a chance to get it .

    does the occuring course helps you to attract things or it just prepares you to do when you are getting stopped by the occuring ?


  10. Rita Saxena October 17, 2012 at 4:47 am - Reply

    Please guide me what meaning I should give to the following event to get rid of my pain :-
    Event :-My nefew was playing with my mobile and suddenly it developed some snag and stopped working.I certainly felt angry with him,scolded him and felt miserable.I tried exercise suggested by you and noticed that I gave following meaning I to the above event:-
    Meaning:-This is a problem.I have to find out the service center.I don’t know when my mobile will be repaired.I will not be able to communicate with any body till the the mobile is repaired.How will I get up in the morning w/o the alarm.See we are dependent on our mobile for so many things.All are contacts are stored in mobile only.

    I tried to give another meaning to this event ,but did not succeed as I think the meaning which I gave is fact and any other meaning will be an illusion.

    Please advise.

    • Joseph October 17, 2012 at 6:04 am - Reply

      Ha – the meaning I would give to it would be: now I have a challenge – I will try to fix it. I will first try what I know (see if taking the battery out and putting it back in helps, if the SIM card is OK), and if it does not – I will search on google for people having similar problems. I can learn something! If there is nothing I can do about it, I will give it to be serviced. And I should not bother, because there is nothing else I can do about it. For the future, I may not be willing to give the mobile to my nephew to play with, but this may be too cruel and actually it may be better to take some risk – let’s see how serious this is.

      That would be my typical reaction and meanings. BTW, I am not a very happy person!

    • Sally Gautrey October 17, 2012 at 8:25 am - Reply

      Hi Rita,

      Most of the “meaning” you have described is fact. The facts will not make you angry. Also, notice you do not feel angry at your phone. You feel angry at your nephew. Why? It would be something like this: “He was too rough and careless which caused the problem with my mobile phone. He was wrong to play with it like a toy, not a tool. He doesn’t care how much this will cost or inconvenience me.” Those types of thoughts can easily make you angry. Can you see that is meaning you made up, but they are distinct and separate from the facts of what happened?


  11. Joseph October 17, 2012 at 3:49 am - Reply

    I can suppress the pain by assigning positive meaning to the event – but sooner or later it hits me anyway, as the other meaning pops out. For example, if I have no friends to go out with for a drink on aFriday night (I recently moved to another place in the world, leaving everything behind), I can give it a positive meaning – I have more time for my family and hobbies, and my liver stays healthier (and the brain should theoretically stay healthier too!). This works for a moment, but then the feeling of solitude will surface, same as the ball from under water from one of your examples. So I need something else.

    • Debbie October 17, 2012 at 5:36 am - Reply

      Hi Joseph. You also give meaning to your internal feelings. When solitude arises, what meaning do you give it? Perhaps you tell yourself it means “I am alone, lonely and i should not be. I should have friends…if I had friends I would be happy”. What if you gave solitude the meaning that you now have the perfect opportunity to create the MOST important friendship you will ever make in your life???? The relationship with your self! Solitude means Joseph time! The time to grow, develop and become someone who relys on themself for their needs. Having and enjoying friends is fabulous….needing them is painful. Having yourself for your best friend is PRICELESS and now you have the solitude to get to know yourself and how to become free.

      • Joseph October 17, 2012 at 5:44 am - Reply

        I think I am doing a good job with myself….. to illustrate, I learned greek philosophers, learned to play two musical instruments, trade on the stock exchange, put myself in a physical shape like never before, read and practiced literally hundreds of self-development and self help approaches … still, solitude hits me like a baseball bat on my head every now and then (approximately 2-3 times a week), and this is not a great feeling. In nutshell, I do not feel any better than 5 years ago.

        • Debbie October 17, 2012 at 6:04 am - Reply

          Hi again Joseph. Sounds like you are doing a great job with your new life. You are still giving solitude a meaning or it wouldn’t be painful. What is the meaning you give solitude? Solitude means nothing…….until you decide it does. Pay attention to when and how it occurs. Sometimes meaning is ascribed unconsciously from a deeper belief that you hold. Perhaps something like I am alone because I am being punished. Parents sometimes punish their children with “alone time” and they might associate an unconscious belief to being alone: “I am bad”. Look for the meaning you give when you experience solitude…..and then dissolve it. Giving a positive meaning won’t help if you BELIEVE otherwise. You may have to question the belief until you can unravel it, by giving solitude a variety of meanings that are also true for you.

          • Joseph October 17, 2012 at 6:10 am

            Thanks Debbie… believe me – I have been through all that (and even more). I am giving solitude a positive meaning, and it works for a while. Until it does not. Are you saying now that I do not believe the positive meaning, because I believe the other one? It depends on the moment, in one moment I think one thing, and two hours later something else. I have not found out yet how to keep these thoughts and beliefs stable. If anyone had a similar problem and managed to cope with it – it would be great to know how!

    • Dave October 17, 2012 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Hi Joseph,

      Debbie brings up a good point that most people get confused on. She said that you’re still assigning meaning which is true. You’ve been trying to put a positive spin on it to counteract the negative feelings. As you’ve noticed, it doesn’t work in the long term, and you are absolutely correct that it doesn’t work because you still believe the negative belief. This falls under the category of suppression, after all.

      The whole point of finding a different meaning is not to over-power it but instead to disprove it so that you can realize it’s not true and let go of all meaning entirely. That’s why Morty calls it dissolving. When you let it go, you don’t have to feel good about it. Instead it just seems to disappear.

      You don’t have to feel good about feeling bad. You just have to stop feeling bad and it becomes a totally moot point. This is an important distinction.

      That being said, Debbie asked another great question you should explore. What’s the meaning you give solitude?

      I’ve got another question, though. While I’m sure that you perceive it as either difficult or impossible, why are you trying to make yourself okay with being alone instead of becoming okay with making new friends?

      • Joseph October 17, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

        Thanks Dave for your reply. I am absolutely okay with making new friends – somehow it does not work though. I feel a great difficulty connecting to other people in a meaningful way.

        Regarding the meaning of solitude – it can mean good things or bad things (they say things are good in moderation). In my case, I feel permanently alone, even if I am surrounded by tens or hundreds of people. With a small exception – sometimes I feel strongly connected with a special person I meet, the challenge is that I meet such people extremely rarely.

        Regading dissolving – I tried it, but it does not seem to work. What is the difference between dissolving and suppressing in practical terms?

        • Morty Lefkoe October 17, 2012 at 10:50 am - Reply

          Hi Joseph,

          When the meaning you give an event dissolves, it literally disappears. You recognize that it is only a meaning in your mind and not part of reality.

          Suppressing a meaning means you think it is true and try to convince yourself it isn’t, which rarely works.

          Take a look at this video, it might help you understand better. After you watch it, click on the link that says “first assignment.” It will explain it even more.

          Let me know if these two short videos help.

          Love, Morty

          • Joseph October 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

            It does not seem to be easy for me. When I am in “OK” mood, I can easily distinguish the event and the meaning, and – for a while – get the ability to “dissolve” the meaning. And the day does get sunny.

            After a while, a dark cloud comes, bringing the rain of the same meaning.

        • Dave October 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

          So it seems to me that the meaning you give solitude is “I will always be alone.” This meaning also seems to apply to the prospect of connecting with people. I wonder if it needs to be a “meaningful” enough connection to suppress that sense that you will always be alone.

          I wonder if that has something to do with a belief you have about yourself.

          What do you think Morty? I have some questions. First of all, do you think it could be a belief at work for Joseph that needs to be worked out? Second, let’s assume there’s a belief at work regardless of the answer to the last question. Would dissolving the occurring be all that’s needed to take care of the belief, or would you have to use the belief process? Finally, in what way do you see beliefs and occurrings as fundamentally different?

          • Morty Lefkoe October 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm

            Hi Dave,

            Yes, there are beliefs involved.

            No, dissolving occurrings does not eliminate the beliefs that are responsible for the occurring.

            I wrote a blog post answering your final question and a lot more.

            Love, Morty

          • Joseph October 18, 2012 at 3:29 am

            I am not sure if this is my belief. Perhaps my belief is that I must have close friends in order to be happy, and that there is something within me that causes the rejection, or difficulty finding the people I can relate to. No idea.

  12. carmel October 17, 2012 at 3:42 am - Reply

    True, Morty! I am trying to live in this moment since I done the occurring course, all I say is “right now nothing is happening” so I try not to put stuff in the moment that I make up in my head or comes from a previous time. I’m getting better at this and continue to practice.

  13. els October 17, 2012 at 2:51 am - Reply

    hey greetings from belgium
    fears are stupid distractble and not you. So if you do have a fear just use affirmations. example i am afraid of losing my son because he is so dear to me use the affirmation i deserve my son because he is so dear to me. affirmations are verry usefule and important with fears .

    • Lauren October 17, 2012 at 11:59 am - Reply

      So your occurring is “I don’t deserve my son”. Fear is a reaction to this occurring. To say, “I deserve my son” over and over very rarely works because you are not accepting how you’re feeling in the moment. What Morty is suggesting is that whenever you feel this fear when the situation comes up, is to notice it and then ask yourself what meaning you’re giving to that fear. When you can distinguish between the meaning you’re giving it and the actual event, the occurring(fear, etc) dissolves. Affirmations are like convincing somebody of your position in an argument by repeating the opposite of what he’s saying over and over again. Very rarely works.
      Love and Light on your Journey,

  14. Agnes October 17, 2012 at 2:02 am - Reply

    I read and tried a lot of things to help me through the after effects of two disastrous marriages and total financial ruin. Each time, I thought, something was working, only to retrogress when the emotional baggage that comes with my situation erupted. I subscribed to your newsletter and to tell the truth, I was no longer reading your stuff, till three posts ago. It was the post about occurings that caught my attention. I had nothing to loose in trying your instructions and guess what? I did not have a life changing experience or a mind blowing one, but a transformation that is being tried daily and rising to the occasion. I will keep you posted on whats happening.

    Thank you. What you are writing about is working for me, this after the cynic I have become.

  15. Wilrieke October 17, 2012 at 1:25 am - Reply

    Thank you very much for this beautiful post Morty! It states so clear how we can approach difficulties. I love how open and accessible you describe it all. Thanks for that! <3

  16. Alex October 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Dude, thank you so much for point number four, I have been making that mistake for years!!!

    (A spiritual practice becomes a problem when you use it to pretend that it is sufficient to deal with the concerns of your “creation.”)

    • Lyn October 18, 2012 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Alex, I can completely relate! Like pouring ‘pink paint’ over everything as if it didn’t matter — trying to be ‘spiritual’ about it as if feeling anything is a ‘sin’.
      I have seen people in the midst of real life alternating situations say things like, ‘it’s ALL good’…but it’s not all good in that moment. And deep inside they are quaking and sick.
      Isn’t it better to acknowledge what is happening. Admit to your feelings about it. Allow the feelings to be felt. Then ask yourself what’s the story you attached. Thanks for the post Alex!

      • Morty Lefkoe October 18, 2012 at 10:55 am - Reply

        Hi Lyn,

        The trick is to fully acknowledge the feeling, then find the meaning that caused the feeling, then dissolve the meaning, at which point the feeling will disappear.

        Love, Morty

        • Lyn October 18, 2012 at 11:01 am - Reply

          Morty, YES it works! Thank you for the good stuff you do!!!

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