Do you enjoy daydreaming? Maybe you were told as a child that it was a waste of time - that you should be doing something more productive, more active. I come across many people who say they stopped daydreaming long ago. By this they usually mean that they’ve stopped imaging wonderful, fantastic adventures or they no longer vividly imagine what it would be like to have their perfect life.
Yet daydreaming can be a highly beneficial activity. By imagining vividly what success looks like, feels like and sounds like, your mind can become alert for opportunities to achieve it. Imagining feeling great, being calm and feeling confident results in your body responding as if you were those things. As you imagine these things your body posture changes to a more confident one, stress hormones are decreased and confidence hormones increase (there is a great TED talk by Amy Cuddy on how we can use confident body posture to bring about these changes). We become more likely to take positive actions as we know what our goals are.
The imagination cannot be literally turned off and so sometimes those people who stop imagining the best of things take up another form of daydreaming instead, without even realising it. They have taken up what I call “daymaring” - they use their imagination to vividly imagine worst-case scenarios. They imagine that loved ones who are late have been hurt, that every pain is a dread disease, that every interaction at work will be negative. Not surprisingly,they feel stressed, anxious and have problems sleeping well.
Daymaring is a self-feeding monster. As you imagine fear, grief, anger and upset, your body responds with the fight or flight response that evolved millennia ago to deal with real, acute threats to life. The more this response is activated, the more likely you are to perceive threats aroundyou which then stimulate the flight and fight response further, and so on. Eventually your physical and mental health suffer due to the chronic state of stress generated by this pattern of thinking.
What a tragic waste of imagination. To think of how the imagination can work for us – enabling us to imagine the best of worlds, to plan our successes and to explore the things that would make us happy – and then touse it to frighten ourselves and to make ourselves unwilling to explore and enjoy. How sad.
So become aware of what you are using your imagination for. Are you using it to keep you in a state of perpetual fear and anxiety or to generate a perpetual state of optimism and motivation? It’s your imagination so you get to choose. Of course, if you’ve been daymaring for years, you might need help to turn it around – luckily hypnotherapy and coaching are both great tools for that. So get yourself someone to work with you if you need to and begin to daydream again.
So, if you’re always imaging the worst instead of the best and would like to work with me as your coach or therapist to change your thought pattern, then contact me and find out how I could help.