Things were going so well. You managed to last a day, a week, maybe even a month without giving in to maladaptive daydreaming. Your time-consuming habit was just starting to feel like a thing of the past.
Then it happened – life suddenly threw you a curve ball. A difficult day at school. A financial crisis. A falling out with a longtime friend. Suddenly, you desperately needed a way to cope with the stress, so you turned to the one method that has always helped you in the past…maladaptive daydreaming.
And before you realize it, you’re back to square one. Stuck in the same addictive behavior all over again. Having a life outside of MD no longer seems possible.
Does this story sound familiar to you? If so, you’re probably not the only one. Most of us that deal with maladaptive daydreaming have had these moments at some point or another. All of our attempts to combat MD somehow seem to end up in failure. Not a moment goes by where we don’t notice how much it robs us of living full lives, and yet we just. Can’t. Stop.
Then the negative thinking creeps in, intensifying the longer the struggle continues. I’m not strong enough to fight this. My life has always been like this, and it probably always will be. Maybe I need to accept that this is just the way things are.
When we’re feeling down and out, it’s so easy to fall into these negative thought patterns. But are they true? Is maladaptive daydreaming impossible to overcome? Should we all just stop trying to fight it and learn to live with it?
I know that there are many of you out there who feel that it’s hopeless – and from my own personal experience, I can understand why. But here are a few reasons why that belief just isn’t true – along with some helpful ways to stay strong in the fight.
Why We Believe the Lie
Negative thought patterns don’t develop overnight. They’re a result of repeated cycles of hope and disappointment. When we try our hardest to succeed only to be met with failure every time, the negative thinking sets in. After all, what’s the point of being positive if all you’ve ever experienced in the past is the worst that life has to offer?
After a while, we become so used to having these kind of thoughts rattling around in our minds that we don’t see the ways that they’ve distorted our entire worldview. We constantly expect the worst in life. We stop believing in ourselves and our power to change things. And like maladaptive daydreaming, that kind of mental conditioning isn’t easy to undo. Because the reality is, if you tell yourself a lie enough times, you’ll eventually start to believe it.
But the first step in changing your thinking is recognizing this lie for what it is, and to do that, you have to arm yourself with the truth.
The Only Thing Constant is Change
One of the most deceptive lies we convince ourselves of is that things never change. That all the life issues we’re dealing with today will be with us forever. But if you observe the world that we live in, you’ll see that things are always in a state of change. Seasons come and go. New species evolve to replace the old. Civilizations rise and fall.
But that change doesn’t just apply to the outside world. You are changing too, whether you realize it or not. Every day, your experiences are shaping you into a new person. Just compare the person you are today with who you were as a child. You probably didn’t have the same level of knowledge and experience back then like you do now. The second grade math you hated as a kid doesn’t seem as challenging to you as an adult.
Likewise, you probably won’t be the same person in the future. Just imagine how much you’ll learn and grow a year from now. Ten years from now. Overcoming maladaptive daydreaming may feel impossible today, but perhaps in the future, with more knowledge and experience, it will be as easy to do as second grade math.
Now, how do I know all of this is true? Because I’ve lived it. I’ve been where you are now, feeling like you’re floundering in the ocean without a life jacket, struggling to keep your head above water. But through a lot of perseverance, I’ve managed to come out on the other side. And that’s why I don’t want you to give up – there is hope.
How to Jumpstart Your Motivation
Negative thinking is more dangerous to your progress than you realize. The more pessimistic you view life, the more you rely on maladaptive daydreaming to escape from it.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks for dealing with these type of thoughts. I still use them to this day when I feel like I’m slipping into negativity. Here are five keys to help you stay motivated.
1. Let go of expectations.
Unless you’ve got a crystal ball, you can’t predict what will happen in the future. Life always throws surprises at us and we have to learn to adapt to them. So it’s best not to make assumptions about if and how you will conquer maladaptive daydreaming. If you attach yourself to a specific outcome, you’ll likely be disappointed. More importantly, your solutions may come in a form that you don’t expect, so you have to be open to receiving them.
After all, how many stories have you read where you thought you knew how it was going to end, only to be proven wrong? Of course, reality is a far more unpredictable adventure than any that you’d find in a novel. Learn to leave room for the plot twists of life. Who knows – there may come a time when they work in your favor.
2. Keep your mind in the present.
Many times in life, its wise to plan ahead, but that doesn’t mean you need to endlessly obsess over the future. Thinking too far ahead is one of the quickest ways to become demotivated. When you try to anticipate all the problems you’ll face down the road, you’ll feel overwhelmed to the point where you don’t want to even bother at all.
But there’s no guarantee that the things you’re worrying about will even come to pass, so why waste the energy? There are enough challenges for today to have to worry about the ones for tomorrow. Take things one day at a time. Besides, the future is shaped by what happens in the present. Concentrate your energy on living in the moment.
3. Encourage yourself with positive affirmations.
Using positive affirmations is a great technique to reprogram your thinking. You can repeat them mentally throughout the day, or you can write them down on sticky notes and place them around your living space.
Here’s a just a few positive affirmations of you might want to use:
- I am strong and capable.
- I believe in my ability to succeed.
- I can do accomplish anything I put my mind to.
- I deserve to lead a fulfilling life.
- I am overcoming my illness. I’m becoming healthier every day.
Sometimes when you start using positive affirmations, it can feel a little unnatural, and that’s OK. But the goal isn’t to convince your conscious mind – it’s to change your subconscious mind.
As humans, we have the tendency to act out our innermost beliefs, many of which we aren’t even aware of. But if you can change these beliefs on a subconscious level, you can change your own behavior. That’s where positive affirmations come in. The more you use them, the more you’ll start to believe in their messages, and the more you’ll feel equipped to deal with life’s challenges.
4. Patience is a virtue.
Depending on your circumstances, MD has probably been in your life for years – maybe even decades. It’s going to take more than a day to change that, so you have to be patient with whatever progress you’re making now. Even the best techniques in the world won’t deliver instant results. Remember, you’re trying to undo a lifetime of mental conditioning here – it’s not unreasonable to expect that working through it is going to take time. Lots of time.
For this reason, you can’t be too hard on yourself. The fact that you recognize your problem and you’re willing to make a change is significant in itself. Give yourself credit for whatever progress you’re making. Sometimes, just appreciating how far you’ve come is enough to keep you going.
5. Be proactive, even in small ways.
I know I’ve been saying that the future is unpredictable and that MD takes time to work through, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to remain eternal damsels in distress. We have more power than that. Although we can’t completely control the future, we can still influence it with our actions.
Understand that maladaptive daydreaming will forever be a struggle for you unless you take the initiative to do something about it. Of course, there will always be things in your life that will make this process difficult – that goes without saying. But don’t be discouraged by the things you can’t change. Instead, focus on what you can change. Set small goals that are within your ability to accomplish. Find ways in your everyday life to control your daydreaming, even if it seems insignificant. Eventually, all the small things you do will add up.
Think of it this way. I’m sure that when you envision a story for your daydream characters, you imagine them doing all sorts of exciting things to move the story along. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a story if your characters didn’t take an active role in it.
Like a story, your life will be defined by how active you are in shaping it. After all, you are the protagonist of your own story.
Believe in Yourself
Correcting negative thinking is a constant process. There will always be times where things will seem like they’re not getting better, and you just want to give up. But keep fighting. Always remember that your current experiences are temporary. Things can and will change. Use whatever techniques you find helpful to stay in the game.
Keep in mind that these bumps in the road are part of the journey. Not everything will go according to plan. Sometimes despite your best intentions, you mess up. But use your failures as an opportunity to learn, and use that knowledge to make wiser strategies.
Remember: we don’t always see our full potential when everything’s going great. Sometimes, our true strength is revealed in our darkest times. You can succeed.
Question: What techniques do you use to stay motivated? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.