Any habit, including daydreaming, can be beneficial if it enhances other aspects of your life, but can be negative if it takes over and stops you from doing other things. If your daydreaming is threatening to get out of control, you might be considering trying to reduce it. If that’s the case, it’s helpful to understand some of the barriers you might face in trying to control your daydreaming.
Lack of belief
If you don’t believe, at the very deepest level, that you are capable of reducing your daydreaming, you will subconsciously sabotage your efforts. If you believe that your daydreaming will always be beyond your control, you will dismiss your successes as luck and use your failures as evidence that you can’t succeed. Changing a belief can be hard. Think back to a time in your life when the urge to daydream wasn’t as strong. What was different then? What aspects of that can you bring into your life now to support your efforts?
Lack of commitment
To successfully reduce your daydreaming, you need to want the change on both a logical and an emotional level. If you know, logically, that you could get more done if you spent less time daydreaming, but you don’t feel unhappy with the way your life is, you won’t have enough motivation to change. You need to get the emotional side of you on board with the idea. Try visualising what your life would be like if you spent less time daydreaming. Instead of just listing all the things you could do instead, actually experience them in your mind, feel what it’s like to get more done, notice how satisfying it is, how it changes the way you feel about yourself. Once you are invested in the outcome both logically and emotionally, you will be much more likely to succeed.
Fear of losing who you are
If being a daydreamer is a big part of who you are, you might be afraid that you won’t be you if you give it up. You might also be worried about losing the emotional attachment you have to your characters. If that’s the case, remember that you won’t be stopping completely – everybody daydreams, and if you’re an immersive daydreamer, the quality/content of your daydreams will never change. You don’t have to give up your characters or your other worlds. And you’ll still be you if you spend less time daydreaming – you’ll just be an even better version of you.
If you are under stress, your mind and body may be stuck in a fight-or-flight state. In this state, you will be reacting mainly on instinct and doing what it takes to survive in the moment. It’s very hard to make rational choices and logically plan for the future when you are under stress. If your daydreaming is the main way you deal with your stress, reducing it would increase your stress, which won’t help you. You’ll need to find other ways to manage your stress before you’ll be able to reduce your daydreaming. Experiment to find what works for you – it could be exercise, mindfulness, socialising or spending time in nature.
Not having support
Change is never easy. You’ll increase your chances of success if you don’t try to do this alone. If your friends or family know about your daydreaming, enlist their support in scaling it back. Ask them to help keep you occupied. Ask them to check in with you from time to time to ask how you’re getting on. Ask them to remind you of all the reasons you want to reduce your daydreaming. And share your successes with them. If you haven’t talked to friends and family about your daydreaming, consider joining a support group or reaching out to other daydreamers on social media and find support that way.
Some sufferers of maladaptive daydreaming disorder will need professional help to manage their daydreaming. But if you can stop dreaming temporarily when you need to focus on something else, if you are able to be productive at work, and you can set your other worlds aside long enough to maintain real-world relationships, there is a very good chance that you can manage your daydreaming habit yourself. Understanding the factors that may be causing it to get out of control is an important part of that.