Wild Minds Network

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What do you get from your dreaming? What purpose does it have for your life?

(I deleted the first half of this blog entry as the writing seemed confusing.) The first half of the post discussed feeling trapped in an anxiety/shame cycle and how I may have used dreaming to cope with shame.

..........

My Therapist asked me what I think that I get from my daydreaming. What purpose does it serve? She said that she thinks that the daydreaming isn't necessarily a, "bad." It has served a purpose for me. It has helped me to get through very difficult parts of my life.  What is important is having it in my life in a way that does not take away from other parts of my life. 

Honestly, I had never thought about my daydreaming as having a real purpose for me. I always considered it that compulsive weird thing that I did and that I wish I didn't do.  I've been thinking a lot about her question. What do I get from my dreaming? I'm still trying to figure it out, but these are some of my initial thoughts. 

1. Power/Control.  I have control of the scenes and characters that I make up. Beyond this, the themes often reflect power/control dynamics. I might be a, "victim," in the fantasy.  But I ultimately have control over what happens. I can make bad things stop and I can make good things happen. If I am being hurt or attacked in my daydream, I can create somebody to save me. Or I can make myself stronger and more powerful and save myself. Whatever scary things that I've experienced in life that felt disempowering, I have made a way to give myself that power back. 

2. Nurturing.  My fantasies often have the theme of being saved/loved/nurtured. When I was young, I didn't feel nurtured or cared for. I felt as though there was no rescue. I met these needs with my fantasy life. Meeting this need has helped me to survive and meet life challenges. It has helped me to be an independent and functional adult. 

3. (added on 12/28) Strong Social Connections with People:  Sometimes I find it difficult to connect with people, "in real life." It's hard for me to open up to people or to be vulnerable. Sometimes if somebody asks me to do something with them, I back away and become scared. In my daydreams, I often develop very close connections with people. I allow myself to be vulnerable.  Sometimes I connect with people more in my fantasy than I do in real life.  Though this has improved a lot, especially since meeting my partner who I have a long term and healthy relationship with. He knows about the daydreaming and we are able to talk about it and even laugh about it sometimes. 

....

Lately, the theme of my daydreams have started to change in an interesting and empowering way. I, "pretended" that I had a child and I became the rescue of my child. The roles flipped in my daydream and I was the powerful one! I was not the weak one in need of rescue. I'm not sure what this means. I took it as a sign of healing and change. Slowly, I am pretending less and less...

I feel so grateful that this is being named and talked about. I feel grateful to this online community. 

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Comment by Meg Sheath on December 31, 2017 at 8:43pm
I literally relate and have done all of these things, especially the caring and nurturing parts. First, my character was being cared for , and then he took in a child and cared for him. These types of daydreams about relationships are one of the main things I daydream about because like you said, I feel like I lack that love in my own life.
Comment by Chris H on December 21, 2017 at 12:42pm

Mathew, thanks for this post. It's really helpful to have others lay it out the way you have. The more time I think about where my anxieties / perceived deficiencies come from, the less time I spent in MDD... This is helpful stuff.. Thank you Matt.

Comment by Dreamer on December 18, 2017 at 4:12pm

Jane L:  

I didn't intensionally try to reduce the dreaming.  However, I  did put intension into trying to change other parts of my life. Briefly, I will say that I think the thing that helped me reduce my daydreaming the most was forcing myself to interact more socially, "in real life." At least for me, I have trouble dreaming as much when I am with other people. Despite being a introvert and shy, I moved into a housing cooperative with 30 people. This forced me to be more social and my, "pretending," reduced significantly.  Thanks for the question. I want to think more on it and possibly write a blog post about it!

Comment by Jane L on December 17, 2017 at 8:02pm

Hey sorry just wanted to ask how you were able to reduce your time spent daydreaming to 4-6 hours per week. I am very desperate to get my MD in control. Ty

Comment by MatthewR on December 17, 2017 at 1:32pm

Yeah, there's always a payoff to our actions, even if we're not exactly aware of it. Daydreaming has a function for us. That's why we keep doing it. I think there's always an element of power and control in MD, and this is probably what distinguishes it from ordinary daydreaming. We are using compulsive fantasizing as compensation for feeling deficient. Whatever we feel we lack in real life, we exaggerate and embellish in fantasy. But obviously this goes nowhere, because nothing productive can possibly come from this lifestyle. I suppose the reasons for daydreaming will differ depending on whatever it is we're trying to avoid. A big part of recovery is recognizing our feelings of helplessness, which triggers us to daydream, and instead learning how to respond to stress in a more productive manner.   

Comment by Tammy O. on December 15, 2017 at 6:16pm

This is quite insightful because I never saw it that way.

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