People who are suffering from maladaptive daydreaming disorder (MaDD) understandably become very focussed on the difficulties and problems associated with the condition, and rightly so. MaDD is an addictive behaviour that can negatively impact many areas of a person’s life and make it difficult to maintain a career or relationships. It is understandable, therefore, that sufferers of MaDD wonder whether life would be easier if they could give up daydreaming completely. But I don’t believe that’s necessary, or even realistic. Our brains are wired to daydream in this way, and I have found that by embracing the quality of my daydreams, while working to overcome their addictive nature, I’ve been able to thrive as an immersive daydreamer. Here are ten things about my daydreaming that help me to live my best life.
1. Daydreaming allows me to live multiple lives
I have big dreams. There is so much I want to see, do and experience. There’s no way it would fit into one lifetime. Living three lives in parallel allows me to at least imagine many of the things I’ll never really do.
2. Daydreaming sets me free
My daydreams aren’t constrained by what is realistic for someone of my age, background and skillset. I can achieve anything I want, be anything I want, do anything I want. And that encourages me to question, and overcome, the limiting beliefs that hold me back in real life.
3. Daydreaming helps me tap into my strengths
When I have a problem to solve, I talk it through with my daydream mentor and ask his advice. Often, he’ll come up with a solution that I hadn’t thought of. Which is pretty cool given that he doesn’t exist and the solutions he comes up with are actually my own creations. When I reflect on that, I realise I’m far more capable and resourceful than I give myself credit for.
4. Daydreaming boosts my confidence
I’ve successfully navigated much tougher situations in my daydreams than anything real life is likely to throw at me. I remind myself of that when I’m facing a crisis at work or a difficult conversation; it helps me keep things in perspective. Most of the things we worry about in real life aren’t really that important.
5. Daydreaming motivates me
When I’m trying to make a big change in my life, the end result can feel a long way away. Living that end result in my daydreams connects me with what I’m working towards and reminds me of why it’s important.
6. Daydreaming holds me accountable
If I promise one of my characters that I’ll do something, then I’ll do it. It’s as simple as that. There’s no way I’m going to let them down. I find it easier to keep a promise to one of my imaginary friends than to keep a promise to myself – even though, really, both are forms of self-respect.
7. Daydreaming is unconditional self-care
My daydream partner’s sole reason for existing is to love me unconditionally. That’s not something that’s realistic or even desirable in real life. But, like many working mums, I’m not always good at focussing on my needs, so it’s nice to have that voice in my head telling me that I matter and I need to look after myself.
8. Daydreaming has shown me my authentic self
We all spend too much time trying to be what we think the people around us want us or need us to be, and not enough time just being ourselves. In my daydreams, I can explore who I am without fear of failure or rejection, and in doing so, I’ve come to better understand who I was meant to be and to live a real life that’s in better alignment with that.
9. Daydreaming helps me recharge
When real life feels difficult or overwhelming, I allow myself to switch universes for ten minutes and experience a life where everything is as I want it to be. That time out helps me to refocus and get in touch with my inner strength, and I come back to the real world with renewed enthusiasm and determination.
10. Daydreaming is an infinite source of love
In my daydreams I am loved so much by so many people in so many different ways. Which means I’m able to give more love, not just in my daydreams but in real life. I’m a better wife, mother and friend in the real world because of all the love and caring I receive in my daydreams.
Maladaptive daydreaming can smother real life, making it all but impossible to be happy and fulfilled. But it’s so important to remember that it’s the addictive nature of maladaptive daydreaming that causes the problems, not the daydreaming itself. As I hope I’ve illustrated above, controlled immersive daydreaming isn’t a barrier to living your best life. In fact, it could even be the tool that helps you achieve it.