Chronic pain includes both the physical experience of pain and the thoughts we have about it, as well as the feelings associated with it. As we discussed in the previous chapter, the mind and body share such intimate connections that they affect each other in direct and powerful ways. Emotions are a critical part of the circuitry that links mind and body. This chapter will address two essential questions: -What is the relationship between chronic pain and emotions? -How can this knowledge help you achieve emotional balance to cope more successfully with chronic pain? Emotional extremes involve the significant imbalances of either feeling too much (overreacting) or too little (underreacting). Emotional imbalance includes not allowing yourself to experience your feelings as they evolve, suppressing or “stuffing” them, or being controlled by or “drowning” in them. Statements that reflect these respective extremes range from “I don’t feel anything,” “Nothing bothers me,” or “I feel numb” to “I can’t take it anymore!” “I just want to stop feeling this way!” or “I hate feeling this way!” Underreacting is an extreme style of emotional responding that involves avoiding both feeling and expressing emotions as much as possible. This can happen unconsciously or as a result of conscious decision making. People with this emotional style rarely, if ever, seem to react with strong feelings. They keep their distance from emotions— they usually don’t cry, and seem to treat virtually all situations as if nothing is a big deal. They learned early in life that expressing feelings is something to be avoided, and as a result, dealing with feelings directly—including actually feeling them at all—is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unsafe. Such individuals are much more comfortable in the realm of thoughts, thinking, and logic. Overreacting is an extreme style of emotional responding on the opposite end of the spectrum. People with this style have minimal, if any, distance from the emotions they experience from moment to moment. They act out on their feelings immediately and impulsively and seem to be driven by emotions, with little or no thought or logic. They tend to react to most situations as if they are true crises, living in and constantly creating drama. The urgency and intensity of this drama can have the effect of pulling other people in like a whirlpool and involving them in the scenario. They don’t just feel their feelings; they are consumed by them. Many people learned to overreact from growing up in environments where that style is prevalent, where emotions are expressed as soon as they are felt, without any conscious thought about the potential consequences of instantaneous, sometimes reckless venting. This blog post is an excerpt from Pain Recovery – How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM, Frank Szabo, LADC, Daniel Shiode, PhD, Robert Hunter, PhD; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).