Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Today is day two of my latest attempt to quit daydreaming. Yesterday I set alarms to remind me to check if I'd been daydreaming - each time I had been successful I multiplied the time by the square root of 2 (sorry, I thought doubling every time would increase it too fast, so I went for a factor of root 2). I didn't get beyond 45 minutes. Today I've been trying to be aware and stop myself whenever I catch myself. So far I've not been doing too badly - I haven't found that I've been daydreaming for ages at any time. I know this may seem very crude, naive and optimistic, but I think it's worth a go just as a start. I have tried in the past and end up simply forgetting that I'm meant to be quitting. For me, that's the first hurdle in quitting anything - remembering that I'm trying.
I considered myself as having a problem years ago, long before this forum existed. It's probably actually been a few years since I even made a proper attempt (if this can be considered a proper attempt). I'm trying to keep the house tidy, get plenty of sleep etc. so that I can feel the benefit which will hopefully remind me of how much better life is if you live it fully conscious and face challenges full on.
Here I go. Wish me luck.
Hi! It is hard this way.
I mean it is hard to try to make it just with the strength of our will.
The risk is that if we can't make it, we blame ourselves, we think that we are weak, unworthy.
We have a real problem, a real addiction. You don't get rid of addiction just because you want to.
So, what to do? Search for help, work on improving our life, setting goals, searching for real joy and real emotion. And real relationships.
And at the same time, ok, it is a good thing trying to reduce little by little the time we do it, but not like it was a punishment.
From my experience, you will need about half a year of work until you will succeed.
In this half a year, don't try changing other stuff: don't try eating healthy or doing plenty of sports so that you don't fail in too many things too much - Take the day as a win when progressing with letting go of MD.
Most important are three things:
Realization when MD is there and when it is not. This is not "the first step". This is the entire walk-in-the-park: This will be your first, middle, and last steps.
Understand the feelings behind MD. The entirety of MD is ONLY feelings, even if it seems otherwise. Your MD content is cardboard-cut-out masks that hide true feelings, which can only communicate with you through the mask of MD. Ask your MD characters what they represent. Ask yourself what you feel in MD. What is missing from your real life?
Life is absolute uncertainty, whilst MD is absolute control. To achieve true feelings, you need to let go of that iron hand you have on the small aspects of your life, and feel these missing feelings again. Fighting MD is fighting your own need for control - this is why the first two points are so vital.
See Valeria's comment - Most importantly, the difference between fantasy and reality is other people.
I really like your practical suggestion "don't try eating healthy..."
It is very true: big changes need all the attention, all the focus, we can't really make two changes at once.
Thanks for all the replies.
I knew my crude "just go for it" approach was going to appear very naive, but it's been so long since I made any attempt to quit I felt ready to give the ultra-simple approach a go first, before spending time learning from others.
I'm actually doing surprising well. Although I still slip into fantasy, I catch myself quite soon and manage to stop. In the past I've often caught myself, known what I'm doing, but thought "m'eh" and carried on. I'm finding I'm able think about my fantasising in quite a detached way now.
I've another addiction I won't go into here, but between it and MD I normally spend most of my spare time immersed in an addiction, but over the last couple of weeks I've managed to control that other addiction as well and my head is really feeling a lot clearer.
I'm a computer programmer and I see my brain as a CPU, my conscious thoughts are the operating system and my addictions are like malware. I know that if I allow the addictions to control my brain, I don't get control back - like a rogue process that refuses to yield (OK, the OS has to be a very old fashioned one with a non-pre-emptive executive for that analogy to work - I'm sure you all spotted that).
So, so far so good. I'll keep y'all updated. There's other stuff to talk about as well, especially my relationship with my partner, but I need to get some chores done. I remember joining a forum for my other addiction years ago, and spending as much time on the forum as I did on the addiction.
Over the last few days I have found myself fantasising more than I did when I first started this attempt to kick the habit. I've even found myself immersed in some of the far-fetched but frequently visited scenarios that I have built up into quite well defined, complex worlds. For me this is fantasising at its worst. Some fantasies aren't really all that far from just thinking about what we'd do in certain situations, but spending time in these worlds that we've spent so much time developing and revisiting is what I call maladaptive. I've even carried on for a bit even after I've caught myself in the fantasy and remembered that I'm fighting it now.
Having said that, I'm still doing better than I was before I started this attempt. I'm getting a lot more useful stuff done and I am feeling like I'm getting better connected to reality.
Maybe my relationship with my partner is helping. We've been together 2.5 years now. We started "talking about" moving in together about a year and a half ago, and now we're actually planning it in a formal as if its a work project. We're both professional people and find it a little bit amusing that we've started making personal decisions in the same way we make decisions at work, but at the same time we know it's the way to get things done.
TLDR: Slipping a bit but still winning.
That's such a good new! Life beating dreams. I like it.
Good for you! Trouble with me is I didn't do this. I achieved it another way. I scared myself. When I started the daydreams, I never stopped to think it's "not real." Low and behold, years and years later, I have a life that didn't happen, because I was busy daydreaming. To make matters worse, most people could actually tell what I was up to. There was no fooling anyone. It showed in my face and body language. I wish I took your method. You are very smart to do this.
Thank you for your reply. You've actually just reminded me that I was doing this. As I suspected would happen, the attempt petered out until I simply didn't think about resisting any more.
On the plus side, I would still estimate that I daydream less than I did before my attempt to quit.
By the way, I don't think there was anything smart about my method. In fact I think it was a very simplistic naive attempt, but worth trying.
So thanks again - you've woken me up, I've smelt the coffee and I'm going to get back with the programme.
Thanks. It really did impact my life. I wish that it never started and I told my parents. I could've had a brighter future, especially if nobody found out—and I just didn't do MD.
It wasn't easy to quit. Even years after quitting, I still feel cringy when I wake up every morning, realizing what I've done for 22 years.