Using daydreaming to boost your confidence

Maladaptive daydreamers often lack confidence. Maladaptive daydreaming can disconnect you from yourself, making you question who you really are. It can also disconnect you from the world, leading to social isolation and anxiety. Both those things can lead to a lack of confidence, particularly in social situations. But there are ways to increase your confidence, and daydreaming can be one of them if you use it in the right way.

Tap into the qualities of your daydream self

If you become an idealised version of yourself in your daydreams, you can use that to boost your confidence in the real world. Think of your daydream self as your alter ego. You can become your daydream self at any time, simply by stepping into your daydream world. But what if you could become your daydream self when you’re not daydreaming?

If your daydream self isn’t you, or isn’t realistic – perhaps they’re a different race or gender, or they have supernatural powers – then you can’t literally become your daydream self in the real world. But you can tap into the best parts of them – their joy for life, their optimism, and even their confidence. If a situation makes you nervous, ask yourself whether it would make your daydream self nervous. If it wouldn’t, then it doesn’t need to make you nervous either. Imagine being your daydream self and notice whether it changes how you see the situation.

Ask your characters for support

I have a couple of daydream characters that I talk to outside the daydream. They help me understand what I want out of real life and gently encourage me to work towards it. But I recently discovered that they can also support me when I’m feeling anxious.

I was attending a large event, alone, at a venue I’d never been to before. Although I’d arrived early, there was already a long queue to get in, and most of the people in the queue had clearly come as part of a group. I felt nervous, and a little bit intimidated, joining the queue on my own. But then I imagined one of my daydream characters standing next to me. He gave my hand a squeeze and reminded me how excited I was to be attending this event. I immediately felt much better.

When I got inside the venue, I realised the man in the seat next to me had also come alone. And I noticed it wasn’t hard to strike up a conversation with him. There was no fear or anxiety. Because I didn’t really care what this stranger who I was never going to see again thought of me. I didn’t need his approval – not when I had my daydream character, who loves me unconditionally, right there next to me.  

Daydream your way to confidence

You can also use a short, controlled daydream to put yourself in a confident state of mind. There are a couple of ways this can work.

For example, suppose you have to give a presentation to a large group of colleagues. You can use your skills as a daydreamer to experience the presentation in advance. I don’t mean that you mentally rehearse it – although that can be useful. But what’s really powerful is to feel what it’s like to remain calm and professional while speaking, and to feel the satisfaction when your colleagues congratulate you on your polished performance. Create the feelings you want to feel during and after giving the presentation. By doing that, you create an expectation that it’s going to go well. And when you have that expectation of success, your anxiety won’t get in the way.

The other way to use a short, controlled daydream is to process or release any unhelpful emotions. If you’re feeling a lot of nervous tension or pent-up energy because of your anxiety, you need to give those feelings somewhere to go. And if you’re sitting in a meeting waiting for your turn to speak, there may not be much you can do physically to release that energy. But a quick daydream about winning a fight or achieving something exhilarating can be surprisingly helpful in releasing the emotions that might otherwise stop you performing at your best.

You can be confident

If maladaptive daydreaming has socially isolated you or stopped you from achieving things that really matter to you, your confidence might have suffered. But maladaptive daydreaming and a lack of confidence don’t automatically go together. Just as you can work towards overcoming your maladaptive daydreaming, you can also work on building your confidence. And you might be surprised how much your daydreaming can help you with that.