Your Thoughts Aren't Real

August 26, 2022 Natasha Tracy

Your thoughts aren't real. I know that might sound false, but understanding both parts of that sentence is critical to dealing with bipolar disorder. I have to remember that sentence every day in order to get me through. But recognizing that my thoughts aren't real or permanent does help, and I believe it can help you too.

Your Thoughts Aren't Real

I know it sounds crazy to think that your thoughts aren't necessarily real, but it's true. We all have thoughts that make perfect sense given the scenario, yet many of us also have thoughts that do not make sense at all, given what's going on around us. Both of these things are okay, though, because your thoughts aren't real, as in, every single thought does not reflect reality. Many of them reflect our psychology more than anything else.

For example, I post videos on YouTube. This is a harrowing experience that naturally brings about many insults. Many of these insults are personal in nature. So, let's say I post a video, and someone leaves the comment, "If I take bipolar medication will I be fat like you?" 

(Yes, that really happened.)

This might make anyone feel bad. This might make anyone think negative thoughts. However, the degree to which a person thinks negative thoughts is primarily a function of their psychology. For example:

  • One person might write off the commenter as having had a bad day, so the comment rolls off their back.
  • One person might take the comment to heart and start crying and immediately join a gym.
  • Another person might get very angry and write an angry comment back at the commenter.

Each of the above three people is driven by their thoughts about the situation, but they're reacting differently, feeling differently, and thinking differently because of who they are. No one thought pattern is more real or true than another. They're all real to the person at the time.

For more about thoughts not being real, watch this video:

Why Does It Matter that You're Thoughts Aren't Real?

It's actually really important to remember that your thoughts aren't real because that idea can help you manage your thoughts when they are distressing or unhealthy.

For example, if a person who self-harms thinks, "I must harm myself now. It's the only way to deal with this situation."

That is a genuine thought. However, it's also a very distressing one that suggests a very unhealthy action. If the person who thinks that thought believes everything they think, then they may just harm themselves as they feel they have "no choice." But of course, they do have a choice. They can step back, look at their thought, see if for what it is -- neurons firing, not the "truth" -- and then choose the action they want to take, such as calling a helpline.

This is why I always go on about the brain versus the mind. The brain is an organ, and it spits out data all day long. It's your mind's job to decide what to do with that data.

So the next time you're thinking something that is causing you distress, remember, just because you think it, that doesn't make it true. Your thoughts aren't real.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, August 26). Your Thoughts Aren't Real, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Lizanne Corbit
August, 26 2022 at 2:20 pm

I love this perspective. I appreciate you for sharing this insight, Natasha.

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