Feelings are Not Facts

When you feel like a loser, don’t believe everything you feel

Posted Aug 03, 2015

“Emotional reasoning assumes that what you feel must be true.” - Dr. Anne Dranitsaris

Ryan McGuire/Pixabay
Source: Ryan McGuire/Pixabay

You can feel it building, slowly but slimily (really, that’s a word - I checked). Sinister self-talk slithers in and with it those unpleasant and oh so familiar emotions.  It’s the usual suspects, who show up, (like the Seven Dwarves, but meaner): useless, worthless, hopeless, clueless, shameful, guilty and unlovable. The causes are varied: clinical depression, an overwhelming day at work, a remark from a loved one that triggers an unresolved issue, you name it.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) touts that if you change maladaptive thinking, change in feelings and behavior will follow. After a psych ward stay, I attended a CBT course at the outpatient clinic. I can vouch that it works. I use the tools taught to me to this day.

But it takes time and practice for CBT to ‘kick-in’. It’s a process after all, not a magic pill (though I take those too – well not magic ones - an antidepressant and mood stabilizer).

Those yucky feelings that accompany corrosive self-talk don’t instantly evaporate (damn it) with CBT. And because of that I needed to find something I could grab to give me perspective while in the midst of mean spirited thinking.

The following simple reminder is what helps prevent me from sliding into further fear and (self)-loathing (within my head, not Vegas).

What is it? Don’t believe everything you feel. Feelings are not facts.

Just because I feel useless, hopeless, unlovable, and worthless, doesn’t mean I am. This might seem obvious but emotions can be convincing and evidence seems to abound to confirm said subjective experience.

Recognize feelings for what they are: feelings; not facts, not the Truth, not edicts.

Reflection on this realization creates essential distance and well earned relief from the unyielding barrage of negativity that accompanies depression and anxiety and even daily stress. It doesn’t make the feelings disappear but it creates a buffer zone between yourself and your belief in them. And paradoxically, as you allow these feelings to be (egad! I know!), when you stop resisting or clinging to them – they will lessen and move through you.

When you do this remember to open your heart. What does ‘open your heart’ mean? It means to be gently curious, ever so compassionate and calmly non-judgmental as you recognize your mind is swirling with swill, you’ve been calling yourself names and believing those mean dwarves in your head.

The 5 'Feelings Not Facts’ Touchstones:

1. Don't believe everything you feel.

2. Open your heart.

3. Just because you feel like crap, doesn't mean you are.

4. Recognize what feelings really are: feelings, not fact.

5. Repeat #1 through #4 as needed until enough distance has been created between you and your belief in the feelings.

© Victoria Maxwell