We all have beliefs about ourselves and the way we act. Some of these beliefs empower us, others hold us back. We can form beliefs at any time, but many of the ones that shape our lives were formed in childhood, when our understanding and experience of the world was very different from what it is now. These beliefs may have protected us or helped us to make sense of the situation we were in then, but as we grow and mature and our circumstances change, we can be left with beliefs that no longer serve us. We can also take on the beliefs of the people around us – if you were told that you were clumsy or stupid often enough when you were growing up, the chances are that you eventually came to believe it.
A belief is a thought or idea that we habitually repeat to ourselves without consciously questioning it.
Once we have formed a belief about ourselves, we tend to remember the situations and experiences that reinforce that belief, and we tend to dismiss as irrelevant any evidence that the belief might not be true. This means that over time the belief gets stronger and stronger.
What beliefs have you formed or been exposed to over the years that might have affected the way you feel about being a daydreamer?
– “Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness”
– “It’s not healthy to want to spend so much time alone”
– “Pacing back and forth like that is weird”
– “You’re too old to have imaginary friends”
– “Don’t be daft; you’re never going to be a rock-star/superhero/save the world…”
If you list all the negative messages you’ve received about your daydreaming over the course of your life, it’s easy to see why many of us are ashamed of our daydreaming and believe that it makes us “bad” or “different”. But take a moment to consider how you might feel about your daydreaming if you’d received some of these messages instead:
– “You have a unique way of working through your problems”
– “It’s awesome that you never get bored”
– “Your natural creativity shines through in everything you do”
– “You’re not afraid to experiment with new ideas”
– “You have unlimited inner resources”
These things are just as true for daydreamers as the negative statements you may have heard. And the amazing thing is, you get to decide which set of statements you want to believe. You can change your beliefs about yourself, even when you’ve held them for a long time.
So, where do you start? First of all, you need to uncover the belief. Many of our beliefs are hiding in our subconscious. We need to bring them up where we can see them. Complete the following sentences in the first way that comes to mind:
“I shouldn’t daydream because…”
“Daydreaming is bad because…”
“If people knew about my daydreaming, they would…”
Your answers may give you an indication of some of the beliefs that you have about your daydreaming.
Once you have uncovered the belief, you can start to examine and challenge it.
– Ask yourself where the belief came from.
– What evidence do you have that it is true?
– What evidence do you have that it is not true?
– What more empowering alternative could you believe instead?
For example, if you believe that “daydreaming is bad because it wastes my time and I never get anything done”, you could reframe that belief as “daydreaming helps me to work through my problems and come up with creative solutions”. If you believe that “it’s ridiculous to still have imaginary friends at my age”, you could reframe that belief as “I’m lucky to have imaginary friends who are 100% on my side and are always there for me when I need them”.
Once you’ve turned your negative belief into an empowering positive alternative, write it down, repeat it to yourself and reflect on it often. Over time, you’ll notice a shift in the way you feel about your daydreaming. When you can let go of the shame and negative self-judgements, you’ll be in a better place to move forward with the things that really matter to you.
The first step in getting to where you want to be is accepting where you are now.