Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
 While daydreaming stop yourself and immediately begin to examine what it was you were just daydreaming about (the events and situations, the characters, the representations of familiar things, etc.).
 Think about what are the opposites to the things you were just daydreaming about. For example if you were daydreaming about being rich and famous then the opposite would is being financially unstable and unacknowledged. You'll quickly realize a lot of the opposite things in your daydreams reflect shameful, worrisome, fearful, etc. thoughts you have (anxieties). Your daydreams are a conscious reaction to your subconscious thoughts.
 Think about the characters or representations of familiar people, things, and places in your daydream. Look for fallacies, exaggerations, and inconsistencies. These will be especially noticeable with the familiar which will be behaving more like your ideal or opinion of them rather than how you actually experience them.
 Attempt to start a new daydream about the issues you uncovered in step 2 (the opposites), and attempt to willfully avoid fallacies, exaggerations, and inconsistencies. You will likely find this very difficult and will likely feel anxiety and tension building up as your conscious tries evading these uncomfortable thoughts, but stick with it and keep trying. What you will realize is that this second daydream isn't accompanied by the general euphoria of a more pleasant daydream.
What I believe these intentional (willed) daydreams are is an attempt by the subconscious to get the conscious mind to address issues it keeps avoiding. It does so by presenting the issue in a metaphor to the consciousness, things are exaggerated and opposite to make the thoughts comfortable and pleasing so that the consciousness will gladly process them and unintentionally resolve them (but gradually). The deeper and more traumatic the anxiety, the slower the process to resolve them and the more daydreams the conscious mind is passed (in order to keep it working on the anxieties).
The consciousness starts to panic when it becomes too aware of the unpleasant issues tucked subtly in the daydream which is why step 4 is so difficult. However, by becoming aware of this process and constantly examine your daydreams and subjecting them to steps 1-4 you will get in the habit of addressing your anxieties and actively working them out, lessening your subconscious' need to resort to dreams and daydreams as a means to get them through to the conscious.
I am having pretty good success with it and have gained a lot more control over stopping the daydreams when I want to and preventing my mind from shifting away from my external awareness. This does not mean you will lose the ability to daydream, it just means you will have better control over turning it off and on. Your subconscious is speaking to you, you have to acknowledge what it is saying to you and address its concerns if you want it to stop repeating itself.
You have some great ideas there! I will give this a try.
Good ideas! Does the fact that sometimes I'm imagining myself/Grey hacking into a bank account and transferring money over to a hidden one of mine mean I want some source of income? 'cause I'm getting one soon.... So why does it not stop?
It's hard for me to say what it means to you because I am not you.
I do know that in daydreams where I am taking or stealing money or resources there is almost always a certain underlying bitterness I feel. For example, when I've lent money or was promised money by someone and I do not get the returns I was expecting. Or perhaps I feel like I am being screwed out of wages or something of that nature. The idea of stealing can be a reaction to the feeling of having been stolen from.
It could also be a reaction to the feeling of unfairness, for example that you should be entitled to a good job, money, resources, etc. like the people around you but you're not getting them so it feels like you've been cheated (perhaps by fate). Stealing in a daydream has a revenge-like quality to it, it is about having the power to take from or take back.
Ultimately only you know the real meaning of this. If this specific theme in your daydream persists then you are kind of at a point where you are playing a game of charades with your subconscious. It is showing you the symbolism and you have to keep asking questions to narrow down the possibilities and eventually single out what it is your subconscious is trying to get you to see.You can generally tell when you are getting warmer by how much distress the guess invokes, the more you feel something is a threat the more anxiety it causes you.
Anxiety is fear and the purpose of fear is threat response. When your heart rate becomes uneven (due to spotting a threat) your frontal lobe shuts down (causing that "Uh... um... uhh..." freeze up moment as your analysis abilities go out the window) and your body prepares you (mentally and chemically) for a fight or flight response so you can take immediate action against the threat. If you're about to be hit by a car you don't have time for planning, you need immediate action and this is what the fight or flight response provides. You fear the car, the fear kicks in the fight or flight response, you make a sudden decision and act (or become indecisive, freeze up, and get hit by the car).
Consciously you don't want to be exposed to fear, you don't want that unpleasant response, so you push those things you are fearful of to the back of your mind to "deal with them later", like setting a paper in a stack. As thoughts pile up in the subconscious, good and bad, and are passed to the conscious eventually you are going to come to those fears previously put in the stack. It seems most of us have the habit of just taking the fear and putting them back into the stack again and again and eventually this makes the subconscious force them upon us in some very unfortunate ways.
We have to deal with fears because fears are perceived threats to our survival. You can't just say "I'll deal with this car speeding directly at me later...", you know that kind of procrastination will lead to an immediate end to your survival. Your subconscious knows this too and it can't let go of anything you've passed it that you've previously determined is a threat. It will do everything it can to get you to resolve the threat.
So the point of uncovering these anxieties stashed away in your daydreams is to identify these things you feel (or have felt) are a threat to your survival and resolve them. Either determine they are not a threat (in which case there is no longer a need to file them in your subconscious) or determine they are still a threat and find a way to make them not a threat. You can use your daydreaming ability to analyse these threats and attempt to perceive them in a less threatening manner (step 4 up there).
One thing to note, neurology has shown that you can prevent your frontal lobe from shutting down in response to fear, or restore it from a shutdown state, by controlling your breathing which in turn controls your heart rate. It is not the speed at which your heart is beating that matters, it is the rhythm. When the heart is out of rhythm that is what causes the shut down. If you put your breathing in a rhythm your heartbeat will return to a rhythm. Try breathing in for 3 seconds and out for 4 seconds (or some similar pattern that is comfortable for you) and maintain that rhythm, your bodies' response to the fear (and the anxiety) will subside.
Another thing I should add, I believe the reason we have a subconscious in the first place (as well as the ability to procrastinate) is to prioritize our actions and behavior. Because we can be dealing with more than one event or threat at a time we need to be able to pick out which one is the most urgent and then store the others to resolve after the first has been dealt with.
Usually this happens pretty quickly (for example during game of football where you are focusing on many tasks at once) but sometimes the process is more delayed. You might be busy with work, which is your immediate priority, and then a co-worker offends you in some way but you decide you don't have time to deal with it so the threat is placed in your subconscious and perhaps hits you on your way home from work when your attention is not so occupied.
Memory is like a filing system the subconscious uses to file events in our life which either are unresolved or will be useful for future interactions (for example, remembering that X food tasted good, Y person has temper problems, Z object has sharp edges, etc.).
In reality, everything we witness is a memory even at the exact moment we witness it. Our sensory organs do not operate instantaneously, they are slow at decoding the information they receive (about sound, images, etc.) and lag behind by milliseconds and our brains do not process the received information instantly either, it lags behind a by milliseconds as well. It is a lot like the operating of computers. Our brain uses clever tricks to counter the lag in time and predict and anticipate what will happen next.
This means by the time information about the world enters our minds it is already past tense, it is a memory. We are technically not perceiving the world so much as we are remembering it. Our subconscious is there to sort and file the memories, the conscious is there to resolve them.
It is likely that our ability to daydream is our minds constructing false predictions, as if to show us "this is what could be", which would explain why we sometimes physically react to the daydreaming and can often feel a stressful degree of disappointment when the daydream is interrupted by reality. The exciting future possibilities fade into the disappointing reality.
These are my theories anyways.
"The Science of Illusion"
"Perceptome, How Perceptions Create Reality"
"Being Brilliant Every Single Day, Part 1" (Neuroscience)
"Being Brilliant Every Single Day, Part 2" (Neuroscience)
I'm about to take a look at the links, but what you've said does make a lot of sense. I think the stealing money thing is 'cause I'm really scared of being short of money in the future, and it's a quick way to earn good money (If you know how/don't get caught) and I don't spend heaps of money in my DD, I just have it there, so I can fall back on it if I'd need to. I don't think it's anything to do with revenge. It sucks, though, 'cause I know I can't and wouldn't steal, so after those daydreams I worry about how I'm going to manage to get the money for what I want to do. Then so I don't have to worry, I think of something else instead.
The theories all sound really good, and make perfect sense. The "This is what could be" thing is probably why, when I have a negative daydream, then start, say talking to someone in real life, I'll be in a better mood, and a little more chirpy. It'll also be why I get worried, 'cause I don't know if I'll have money to fall back on if I need to once I've moved out and start looking after myself.
I guess I will have to keep questioning and questioning them. I think if I have a recurring scene, I might write it down then do a brainstorm (on paper) about what it could be. Once I have (or think I have) figured it out, I'll scrunch it up and put it in the fire. Or hide it away somewhere.
(ps Did you know it takes about the same speed to blink your eye as it does for information to go from the eye to the brain and get processed?)
Yes, but how long does it take to think a thought? Notice that your internal monologue happens much more rapidly than real conversations, and daydreams happen much faster than reality. The lag in time isn't noticeable when you direct your attention to it but it is noticeable enough when you are subjected to a magic trick or other optical or audio illusion.
Also, you might never steal in reality but in your daydreams you steal because it is not about the act of actually stealing, it is about reassuring yourself you could have that money if you wanted. It is about empowerment and denying your fears. You'll probably do a lot of things in your dreams and daydreams that are uncharacteristic of you but it doesn't mean you actually consciously want to do those things or even secretly desire to, they are just metaphors your mind is constructing to comfort you.
Another aspect to understanding why the daydreams are there is to consider what would happen if you were trapped, for example let's say you got buried in a mine or pinned down by something heavy and couldn't move for days. In this state, what do you think would likely happen even with someone who wasn't a "maladaptive dreamer"? They'd daydream. It is an escape mechanism used to cope with an inescapable situation or one perceived as inescapable. We create these false predictions about what could be in reaction to our fears because we feel trapped by them, or held back by them.
Even as a kid daydreaming in class, or an adult daydreaming at work, when you don't want to be there but feel you have to be it feels inescapable. When you are struggling with bills and you can't find an immediate means to make money it can feel inescapable as well (like you are victim of fate or society). The act of identifying these fears and resolving them is really acknowledging to yourself that they are not inescapable situations.
Considering I only posted it two days ago it's not likely you could have given it enough time or practice to find out.
Yeah, I do a lot of stuff in DDs I wouldn't do in real life, and I think you're right, I probably am denying my fears.
I really need to start doing this, and soon. But I want to listen to music but that'd distract me too much haha
Screw it, I need to be harder on myself. I'll do it now. (I can remember many scenes quite well 'cause they're often repeated.)
John K said:
Yes, but how long does it take to think a thought?......(etc)
Presented simply does not imply enacted simply, and I never said it was simple at all. I realize just because I have had success with it doesn't mean everyone will, but just because you didn't find it as simple as you'd like does that mean everyone else won't either? "It's not that easy" is a pretty relative statement.
All addictions of any kind are an escape from discomfort, a way to ease suffering, so the one thing that can be known as fact is that you are escaping discomfort. Avoiding triggers, mindfulness, setting time constraints, etc. are like trying to treat an illness rather than cure one. The only thing that cures an addiction is dealing with the discomfort and eliminating your desire to escape from it. I am not saying my way is the only way to do it, I am merely suggesting one way to do it.
Well, you have to consider what you were hoping to accomplish.
What I was hoping to accomplish by posting this all in the first place was to share methods that worked for me with others in hopes that it might work for them too.
What will stating "it's not that easy" accomplish? Suppose instead I posted 4 steps about how to draw a tree instead, what benefit or use would "it's not that easy" be?
It has been my experience that "it's not that easy" is another way of saying "it's too hard for me" which in turn is usually a justification for "I'm tired of trying". Let's be honest, if solving MD was easy you'd have already done it, so of course it is not going to be easy (I am sure everyone here knows that). It's not about ease, it is about solving the problem.
If you have alternate solutions to the problem to offer by all means feel free to post them, anything that might help someone out of this kind of rut is good in my books.
One other thing,
"I am well in tune to why I daydream, what I seek in my daydreams I don't get in reality"
I don't think that is exactly the case. I don't think it is what you seek and what you are not getting rather it is what you fear. We daydream to avoid mental discomfort, mental discomfort arises from fear. You daydream because you are afraid to face something, you have to address the fear. Often the "triggers" (like music) aren't the catalyst of a daydream but rather they are a reminder of a fearful thought and it is that fear that sparks the sudden urge for a daydream (drug, alcohol, etc. addictions work much the same way).
I just realized something...whenever meditation helps me control MD, I'm doing exactly what you described! Okay, not exactly-exactly...it takes a ton more time, so I rarely do it, but with your straightforward method it's gonna be a LOT more practical!
I have to experiment on this, thanks! Realizing the proccess will certainly be helpful! :D
I agree that it doesn't always work, but at least it cuts down a good part of the dream-flood. :)
Oh, the breathing tip is nice too...might help me with my anxiety issues. :)
Also agree that being decisive helps. The more you embrace MD, the more MD embraces you. It's hard to do, though.