Why Does Life Not Feel Real? A Comprehensive Guide
Sometimes, life can feel like a dream. We go through our daily routines, but they all seem to lack substance and meaning. We question our purpose and wonder why we’re here. In those moments, life may not feel real. But what does it mean for life to “feel real”? And why do some people experience this feeling more than others? In fact, this concept has been explored by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
In this blog, we will delve into the reasons why life may not feel real and how we can make our existence more meaningful.
The Illusion of Reality
Firstly, let’s consider what “reality” is. Our perception of reality is shaped by our senses and our experiences. We rely on our senses to interpret the world around us, but these senses can be fooled. Optical illusions and hallucinations demonstrate how our perception of reality can be distorted.
Furthermore, our experiences also play a role in shaping our sense of reality. Our past traumas, beliefs, and cultural norms all influence how we interpret and experience the world. This means that there is no objective reality – the reality is subjective and varies from person to person.
Depersonalization and Derealization
Depersonalization and derealization are two psychological phenomena that can contribute to the feeling of life not being real. Depersonalization is a feeling of detachment from oneself as if you’re observing your own life from the outside. Derealization, on the other hand, is a sense that the world around you is unreal or distorted.
These experiences can be triggered by stress, trauma, or other mental health issues. They can make it difficult to connect with the world around us and can create a sense of detachment from our own lives.
For example, someone experiencing depersonalization may feel like they’re going through the motions of life but not truly living it. They may feel like an outsider in their own body and struggle to connect with their thoughts and emotions.
Symptoms and Causes of Depersonalization and Derealization
Depersonalization and derealization can manifest in various ways. Some common symptoms include feeling emotionally numb, detached from reality or your own body, having distorted perceptions of time, and feeling like you’re living in a dream.
These experiences can be caused by a variety of factors, including traumatic events, stress, and underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Some people may also experience these feelings as a side effect of certain medications or substance use.
Furthermore, depersonalization and derealization can also be a coping mechanism for dealing with intense emotions or trauma. It allows individuals to disconnect from their emotions and surroundings, but it can also make life feel distant and unreal.
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The Human Need for Meaning
Humans have a deep-seated need for meaning and purpose in life. We want to feel that our existence has significance and that we’re contributing to something bigger than ourselves. When this need is not fulfilled, life can feel empty and meaningless.
In today’s fast-paced and consumer-driven society, it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of material wealth and external validation. But these things don’t provide lasting fulfillment or a sense of purpose. As a result, many people struggle with feeling like their lives lack meaning.
Finding Meaning in Life
So, what can we do to make life feel more real and meaningful? The answer lies in finding our own unique purpose and creating a sense of connection with the world around us.
One way to do this is by exploring our values and aligning our actions with them. When our actions are in line with our personal values, we feel a sense of authenticity and fulfillment. This can give our lives a greater sense of purpose and make them feel more real.
We can also find meaning by contributing to something bigger than ourselves, whether it be through volunteering, activism, or simply helping those in need. By connecting with others and making a positive impact on the world, we can create a deeper sense of connection and purpose in our lives.
How to Deal with Depersonalization and Derealization
If you’re experiencing depersonalization or derealization, it’s important to seek support from a mental health professional. Therapy and medication can help manage these symptoms and allow you to reconnect with your sense of self and the world around you.
In addition, practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques can also be helpful in managing these experiences. These techniques can help bring you back to the present moment and connect with your surroundings.
Following are the coping mechanisms that can help you reduce depersonalization and derealization:
- Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and body
- Engage in activities that bring you joy and connect you with the present moment, such as art, music, or spending time in nature
- Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic ones
- Connect with others for support and to feel a sense of belonging
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When It's More Than Just a Feeling
It’s important to note that feeling like life isn’t real can also be a symptom of certain mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or dissociative disorders. If you’re experiencing this feeling frequently and it’s interfering with your daily life, it may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires professional help.
In a nutshell, life may not feel real when our perception of reality is distorted, our need for meaning and purpose is unfulfilled, or we’re experiencing psychological symptoms such as depersonalization and derealization. By exploring our values, connecting with others, and seeking professional help if needed, we can find a deeper sense of connection and authenticity in our lives.
The feeling of life not being real can have various underlying causes, such as distorted perception, unfulfilled need for meaning, and psychological symptoms like depersonalization and derealization. By exploring our values, connecting with others, and seeking professional help if needed, we can find a deeper sense of connection and purpose in life. Remember that your life has significance, and by finding your unique purpose, you can make it feel more real and meaningful.
So, start exploring and make the most out of your life. Always remember to live in the present moment and find joy and fulfillment in each day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Life may not feel real for various reasons, such as emotional numbness, disconnection from your surroundings, or a sense of unreality. This can be linked to mental health issues like depersonalization and derealization, stress, or even existential questioning.
Life may not feel real at times due to fluctuations in emotional states, stress, fatigue, or when you're engaged in routine activities that lack novelty or excitement.
Life may stop feeling real due to significant life changes, trauma, or persistent mental health issues. It can also be related to a sense of disconnection from your own experiences and emotions.
Depersonalization is a mental health condition where an individual feels detached from themselves as if they are observing their own actions and emotions from a distance. Derealization is a related condition where one feels that their surroundings are unreal or distorted. Both can be symptoms of anxiety, trauma, or other mental health disorders.
Making life feel more meaningful involves personal reflection and taking actions aligned with your values and passions. This can include setting goals, building relationships, helping others, pursuing your interests, and finding purpose in your daily activities. Engaging in self-care, mindfulness, and seeking professional help if needed can also contribute to a sense of meaning and fulfillment in life.
For more information and guidance related to Mental and Behavioral Health, get in touch with our specialized Adult Mental Health Expert!
Dr. Lubna Siddiki MD
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Dr. Lubna Siddiki MD
Dr. Lubna Siddiki is a board-certified Adult Psychiatrist. She specializes in treating adults struggling with various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more. Dr. Siddiki believes in a holistic approach to mental health treatment and works closely with her patients to develop personalized treatment plans that focus on their overall well-being. She is dedicated to helping individuals improve their behavioral health and lead fulfilling lives.