It’s very easy to dismiss our daydreams as pure fantasy, and to draw a very firm distinction between the reality of our real life and the fiction of our daydream world. But it’s worth remembering that even though your daydream world only exists in your head, there are aspects of your daydreaming that reflect who you are and affect how you live your life in the real world.
Your relationships with your characters
Your characters are not real (even when you’ve based them on real people), but the way you feel about them is real. Whenever we feel a connection to someone, that feeling is in our head, so it makes no difference whether the person you feel connected to is real or imaginary. The feeling is just the same. So if you feel friendship, love, protection, security or any other emotion when you’re interacting with your characters, don’t dismiss that feeling as not real just because the character isn’t real. The emotions you feel for your characters still cause your body to release mood-related chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, and those chemicals have very real effects on your body. Don’t deny yourself the benefits of feeling positive emotions by trying to convince yourself that those emotions aren’t real.
Your values and aspirations
Real life is often messy and complicated. We get thrown into situations where priorities conflict, where we have to balance our needs against the needs of the people around us, and where there is no single right answer. In situations like this, it can be difficult to remain connected to what is most important to us. We can be confused about what we really want out of life, because it’s so hard to separate what we want from what we think is realistic or what we think we should want. But in our daydreams we have complete freedom. Our daydreams often reflect what we really want. The plot may be pure fantasy, but the forces that drive us to create that particular plot are the same forces that drive us in our real lives. So, for example, if you daydream about getting together with your celebrity crush and living happily ever after, you may be expressing a desire for a stable and fulfilling romantic relationship. If you daydream about saving the world, you may be expressing a desire to make a difference, or to be recognised for your achievements. Those desires are a part of who you are, and it’s important to acknowledge and express them in both your real life and your daydreams.
Your alter ego
If you become an idealised version of yourself in your daydreams, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you could never be that confident, outgoing, attractive person in real life. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why not? All of the traits that you admire in your alter ego must exist in you in some form, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to adopt them in your daydreams. Often, the problem is that the real world has sent you messages about what is OK and who you should be. Perhaps when you were younger you were criticised or rejected for expressing some aspect of your true nature, so you learned to suppress it and be the person you thought those around you wanted you to be. You learned to put on an act in the real world in order to fit in. But you don’t need to pretend in your daydreams. There you have complete freedom to be yourself without judgement or criticism. So doesn’t it make sense that the daydream you is actually the real you?
So many people dismiss daydreams as “just fantasy”. But our daydreams are so much more than that. They are an integral part of who we are. Yes, of course, we should constantly strive to make our real lives as fulfilling and joyful as we possibly can, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that our daydreams enrich our lives in so many ways. Although the plots and characters are pure fantasy, daydreaming allows us to express ourselves with complete freedom, to explore ideas, to find out who we really are, to do the things that make us happy, to laugh, to connect, to love. Don’t diminish all of that by telling yourself it isn’t real.