Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
I have to apologize for another long read beside my first blog post, especially towards people with short attention spans. But this may help. Initially this was intended as a personal response, but I think this could be important to more people here. What triggered it was Cordellia's remark to me about:
the difficulty of making friends.
Probably your fantasy world is much more attractive than the outside world. This keeps you from truly being interested. Here's some thoughts.
1. The ugly child
Maybe a good way of viewing reality is treating it as your neglected, ugly child, while the superpretty and cool brother/sister, i.e. your fantasy life, is and has always been your favorite. Maybe tell your fantasy life "the past days were great but I need some time with my other relationship". It's a relationship that is there, you cannot ignore reality. You have relationships with both fantasy and reality and one needs a lot of hard work. In a way, so does the other one: slow down, take time off from it. And try to have empathy for the part that you cut off for so long. The ugly child has suffered.
2. Cold turkey
If you view reality as something that keeps you from getting your drug, you could consider some sort of cold turkey approach if you can find a method. Because the fantasy world is like a drug. Embrace boredom. I used to find reality booooring. Now that I know it better, I find it more interesting. Reality is less accessible and it's less obvious why it's interesting. You will find however, that your fantasy world is connected to the real one, it has real human emotions and real logic. It would be good to try to connect certain dots.
3. The body
Your mind is part of it. The physical aspect of it could be important: the busy, busy mind. Maybe things like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or meditating help to relax the busy mind. I expect this will take a lot of discipline. Just like it takes discipline for a class to shut up and listen to the teacher. Your mind is a very busy and loud class and the teacher is standing there, frustrated and just handing out punishments. I still have to find out myself how things like Tai Chi could help, I want to try it. I have had other things to concentrate on but always found myself fantasizing on the background since it was relaxing (like building model kits with music on). The physicality, mind and body at work together both needing an effort, is what could Tai Chi make a godsent for me. Or maybe it's just really boooring ;-). I think that, when it seems to be, I will have to stick with it before making that judgment too soon.
4. Judgments, judgments
We make them all the time and they REALLY get in our way if we want to connect. Simply try to stop doing that, value judgments are quick and easy like the dark side. You have already unlearned it a bit because you came to this website and could let go of some shame.
A really difficult aspect for a lot of youngsters that frustrates careers and goals in general: interest. Maybe interests don't interest you, lolz.
a. What IS interest?
What does it take to be interested? I often felt guilt for not being interested but also anger towards the expectation that I would BE interested in all this boring stuff they throw at you.
Interest is a connection between information needs. You want something, or want to give something. The other thing or person can give some or take some. Part of triggering interest is how certain content is brought by messagers. Some entertain you more than others. Sometimes it's tricks: little jokes to get back your attention. But sometimes it's a deeper connection. This is where you're on the same page, for instance when you find my reply here interesting (otherwise you would not read it), it's because you can relate to it or hope to find a useful answer.
Understanding entertainment can help you understanding interest because partially it's about the same. Why do things entertain? Why do they love their tv shows? It's because they can relate to certain things, often the human condition is the topic. For others, "things" or gadgets, playthings are more interesting but usually only because they serve humanity, or at least can serve themselves. Sometimes things are also visually interesting, of course for TV this is often true, but it's always more than just that. When getting older, there is usually a need for more mature entertainment that has more serious content, dealing with questions that matter for someone that age. What is the meaning of my life, how can I find purpose, happiness, how to deal with my relationship with my family?
The difference between entertainment and mere content of interest is that ultimately entertainment just closes the curtain, while content of interest usually invites further study.
b. How can you BE interested?
Fake it until you make it only gets you a short distance closer. Sometimes it can help faking interest, just to start conversation. But I usually find myself not listening, concentrating.
It starts with questions. What would you like to know about the real world? Nothing? I have found that even the most boring stuff like economy can be interesting. In order to figure out which questions matter to you you'll have to confront yourself with as many topics as possible.
You can only know WHAT you truly find interesting by simply discovering what is THERE. I think it would help you reading newspapers, online or offline. And try to read every category. It's usually better to pick media that have opinions and deeper analyses.
Have an understanding of romanticism, I mean the cultural development in the 18th century (I think?). The root cause of it was: malcontent, not being satisfied with real life, escaping to dream worlds.
Try to figure out what really makes you unhappy. It's probably a vicious cycle for many: you got bored at some point, being too different, started fantasizing, got more and more disconnected, leading to ultimately more unhappiness because you're more alone. Your fantasies make you less alone and keep you somewhat happy. You perhaps need more and more, the response may be reduced with the same amount of stimulus, like with drugs. Or you have found a stable dose that you are content with.
7. Freeing your mind
Paradox: fantasy makes happy and unhappy. Fortunately, the latter is not necessary (but too much is never good). I think that it needs to find a place in reality and is imprisoned within you. Ideas, "memes" (as described by Richard Dawkins) are like people: they want to reproduce, get out there, spread like a virus. Think about how it would make you feel if you would start writing something not too ambitious, like fanfiction, or just fiction about your own fantasy characters. It would probably suck for others to read if you have no serious writing experience. So what, you'll get better with feedback and even if you don't it can have great value as a structured outlet. You have to like reading it, it's your fantasy, so keep improving it.
TWO things about imprisonment, there is:
A. Imprisonment BY your fantasy.
B. Imprisonment OF your fantasy.
Imprisonment BY your fantasy is what you do with the ugly neglected child mentioned ad 1. The reality "bitch" must not be ignored, we all know it...
But why can the imprisonment OF your fantasy, not sharing it, make you unhappy? You can see it like being held hostage in your own underworld. You like it there, but want to see what's out there. Neo wanted to take the blue pill to get out of the Matrix, even though things were not so bad in it and pretty bleak outside of it. It's about freedom ultimately. The bitch is, we are more like the other corrupted guy, Cypher. But Neo is cooler, right? He wakes up. Maybe you LOATHE this movie. But like I said, stop judging if you want to wise up. Another association that comes up is Sarah in the movie Labyrinth, dancing with David Bowie in a beautiful dress...realizing it costs too much time and she has to save the boy. She is still in time, so it was not a problem, but it could have been!
If you see your fantasy as a person, it wants to get out there, explore the world. The romantics found a way to deal with the imprisonment of personal fantasy: write books or poetry! Why does this imprisonment make you ultimately unhappy? The need to express and connect is there within you. It's suppressed: it feels so nice and safe to keep things to yourself because you're afraid people will laugh at your stupid fantasies. But here comes the beauty: you can write anonymously, why do you think so many writers used an alias???
When it comes to people, realize there IS common ground. Everybody fantasizes. Since this is so important to you, it would be nice to find people who are not judgmental and who have found creative occupations, as a hobby or day job. Maybe try a writing course? It did NOT work for me as I simply did not write enough. But maybe something else like painting, idk. You have of course your fellows on this website. Talk to them too and not just about yourself. This is REALLY hard because our minds are so rich. I find it hard too which is why my posts are so long, lolz. But I do read other posts too and I find this easier when:
-not being judgmental;
-trying to be genuinely interested, by finding common ground;
-I can express myself.
Hope you were not bored. Appreciate feedback!