Time is a concept that maladaptive daydreamers tend to be oblivious to. Yet in the back of our minds, our awareness of it never truly disappears. We’re conscious of the fact that by immersing ourselves in our imaginary worlds, we take time away from other important aspects of our lives.
In the beginning, the effects of MD can be hard to see, but as the months pass, we eventually confront the reality of how much we’ve sacrificed. When we realize how many opportunities have passed us by, we can start to think that we’ve wasted our lives on a fantasy. But is this really true? Is maladaptive daydreaming a waste of time? Despite what it may seem, the answer isn’t always clear cut.
Why Feeling Regret Doesn’t Always Help
As every maladaptive daydreamer knows, all daydreams must eventually come to an end. For some of us, it’s a moment that brings with it some uncomfortable feelings. A glance at the clock shows us how long we’ve “been away” – which seems to always be far longer than we intended. What was meant to be ten minutes turns into an hour. Just thinking of how much better that hour could have been put to use can overwhelm us with guilt and regret.
It’s natural to feel regretful when we think about how much time we’ve lost to maladaptive daydreaming. Sometimes it’s even useful when it motivates us to change our behavior. But when it comes to something as addictive as maladaptive daydreaming, prolonged regret can make the situation worse – and here’s why.
We can’t change the past.
Unless you’ve got a time machine, there’s no way to undo the past – or to gain back that lost time. What’s done is done, and feeling bad about our past choices isn’t going to change that fact.
It immobilizes us.
Endlessly ruminating on our failures doesn’t move us forward – in fact, it can cause us to stagnate. We can easily become trapped in negative self-talk, which is the last thing we want when we’re trying to overcome our issues. Unfortunately, once we start to doubt our own self-worth, we don’t see the point in to putting effort into improving our lives. We stop believing that we can overcome our obstacles – perhaps even stop our MD.
We lose our focus.
When we spend too much time looking to the past, we neglect the present. The choices that we make in the moment are what we need to focus on, and they are the only things that we can actively control. Any distractions that pull our attention away from this reality will stop us from making effective choices.
Change Your Perspective
So, can maladaptive daydreaming take up a significant part of our day – or even our lives? Yes. Could that time be better spent doing something a bit more productive? Of course. But does this mean that maladaptive daydreaming is a complete waste of time? No.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my short time on planet Earth, it’s that there’s something we can learn from every experience. That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t be better off without some of the more unpleasant aspects of life – just that, in spite of our circumstances, we can still come out having gained something valuable.
Perhaps one of the most precious things we can gain is knowledge. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Knowledge is power.” As cliché as it might sound, it’s often true. Possessing knowledge and knowing how to use it can give us a great deal of agency over our lives that we wouldn’t have otherwise. With it, we can assess our life situations, learn from our mistakes, make improvements, and act in alignment with our highest good.
The Gift of Introspection
Strangely enough, we gain knowledge through maladaptive daydreaming, though this fact is not always obvious. This knowledge, however, comes in the form of introspection. Through the creative elements of our imagination, we gain an intimate glimpse into our minds and hearts. Eventually, we can uncover what makes us tick.
Why is this important? Well, when you understand yourself – who you are and why do behave the way you do – you won’t waste your time on things that don’t resonate with you. You can devote your energy to people and pursuits that enrich your life – and save yourself a lot of misery in the process.
For this reason, I can confidently say that I’m thankful for the journey I’ve been through to overcome maladaptive daydreaming. Every experience I’ve had with my MD has helped me to better understand myself. Of course, it’s certainly had its share of struggles, but without them, I’m not sure I would be the same person.
I know what it’s like to feel as if you’ve wasted so much of your life on a daydream – and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging these feelings. But you have to be careful not to use them as a weapon to condemn yourself. Regardless of what may have happened in the past, give yourself permission to move forward.
It’s true that MD can keep us from doing so much more with our lives – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t gain something positive out of the experience. When we take advantage of the knowledge that we can learn from MD, we can use it to make a change and build for the future.