Feelings are real, but they aren't reality


If you're one of my clients, you may have heard me mention this last week. Dan Harmon, the creator of Rick and Morty responded to a fan's tweet looking for advice about depression. His answer was fabulous - you can read the whole thing here. What I found most remarkable was this statement: "Feelings are real, but they aren't reality." I've been saying this in therapeutic ways for years, but Harmon put it so simply, I had to share.

So what does it mean? First and foremost, your feelings are valid. You don't need to question whether you should feel a certain way or not. You just feel that way, so it's perfectly ok to be gentle with yourself and your emotions.  But, what you may want to question is whether the thoughts you have around the feeling are based in reality. How do you do that? Take a look at the evidence. 

For instance, the feeling of loneliness can sometimes be accompanied by thoughts like, "I'll always be lonely. I've always been lonely. Everyone hates me." But is that true? Look at the evidence. When was the last time you felt connected to someone? Who in your life would you consider a friend? Does everyone hate you or is there someone who kind of likes you, maybe even loves you? If you take a moment to acknowledge the feeling, but then look at the facts, you'll probably find that the thoughts maybe aren't so realistic. 

Now, what's important to remember is that just because a feeling is real to you, it's not necessarily real to someone else. We can ask to have our feelings heard and validated, but it's no one's responsibility but our own to take care of our feelings. No one can make you feel better except for you. This doesn't mean someone can't help you feel better, but it's your responsibility to say how you feel and to ask for what you need in order to heal.