How do we stop daydreaming and appreciate this moment as it is without a fantasy to make it better? Today I avoid fantasy the same as I avoid putting my hand on the stove when it is hot because I realize every time I step into fantasy that stepping out is painful. How boring and ordinary real life feels compared to the epic day dream! I hope today in sharing it why I avoid any fantasy that we each have the chance to enjoy this beautiful world together!
Fantasy thinking creates pain
First, what is fantasy thinking or daydreaming?
Fantasy thinking is when you are bored somewhere, sitting in class or at work, or laying in bed, and you'll be thinking about some other time, either in the past or in the future. In the past, you might be recalling something that actually happened that you thought was so great.
The main way I used fantasy thinking, starting as a teenager and going through most of my adult life, is I would be sitting in a classroom at school thinking:
How awesome it would be if…?
Wouldn't life be great if…?
I was imagining:
What if I had a million dollars?
What if I didn't have to go to school anymore?
One of my most frequent fantasies was "What if I could go out with this girl?"
I would just fantasize about every different girl around, going out and getting in bed with her, and having a life with her, and I would endlessly fantasize about that.
The problem was no one told me I should stop doing that at any point because no one knew I was doing that. I didn't talk with anyone about that. I didn't ask for any help with that. I just rolled into my adult life with that fantasy thinking and daydreaming all the time.
The fantasy thinking ultimately creates hell in the moment, it creates pain in the moment because whatever you’re fantasizing about is just an idea, it's not real in the moment.
It’s ultimately a very clever way of hurting yourself of saying, “Oh, what I have right now is not enough, let me imagine what I would have so it would be enough.”
It's a long drawn out torture.
No wonder I hated being a teenager.
Almost all I did when I was a teenager was go around and say how bad my life was, and fantasized about all the things that would make it good. I remember going to bed one night as a teenager trying to imagine all the girls that I'd like to have in my bed with me.
It turned into quite a circus, there were like 10 or 15 different girls that I was picturing in my room with me. Yet it hurt, it was torture to do that because that's not what was really happening. I wasn't really in a room with 15 naked girls that I thought would make my life perfect, and then I'd feel like I was enough. I was laying in bed by myself.
That fantasy creates pain because it creates a difference, it creates a separation between what is real and something else in the future that's ideal or imaginary.
Deep down, honestly, no matter how hard you're fantasizing, you know that's not what's happening right now. I’ve spent thousands of hours in my life fantasizing and daydreaming.
I'm grateful now because I know if I'm fantasizing.
When I woke up this morning, I was vulnerable to getting into that fantasizing or daydreaming because I was just coming out of dreaming all night. I noticed I was daydreaming and as soon as I noticed, then I was able to stop doing it.
“Oh, I'm hurting myself. I don't want to hurt myself.”
Because I can feel now whenever I start thinking how wonderful it would be in some future moment, if this or if that, I realize it hurts to do that. When I'm sensitive enough to detect the hurt, I can see any time I start to go outside of this moment at all and fantasize about things in the future, it hurts. The more lucrative the fantasy seems, the more it hurts.
It might not hurt too much to think ahead to tomorrow, “Oh, it might be nice to go to the movies with my wife, or my wife and I might have fun in that classic mall.”
That doesn't hurt too much because that's usually pretty close to whatever the reality will be.
Fantasizing about my business
I used to fantasize about my business all the time, “Oh man, when I'm making this amount of money every month, then I can hire people and then I can do all these amazing things online.”
I used to fantasize about that endlessly, and then whenever I was working with people I would be talking about those fantasies instead of talking more about what was really going on.
When I talk with people about my business now, I talk about what is actually happening, what we are doing right now and if there is anything we should start doing right now that we're not doing.
None of this is related to fantasy stuff. We don't need to talk about when this happens or that happens, but what we are doing now and see if there is anything we should add or subtract from what we're doing now.
Fantasy thinking while gaming
Fantasy thinking pervades almost all areas of life, that's why I loved video games so much before too. It was making a fantasy real. It was making that fantasy real because I also had lots of violent fantasies, and then when I played video games, I could go shoot people or go slaughter zombies in the video game, I could act out some of these fantasies. The most miserable I got was when the game didn't match up with my idea of how the fantasy should be.
As long as you can see that fantasizing, daydreaming, thinking about something like, “Oh, it will be so great,” causes you pain and torture in the moment then you don't have to endure it.
Now, it might not seem like horrible torture on the rack where you're getting your arm stretched out, it usually requires you to be a bit more sensitive to see how much fantasy hurts.
Is fantasizing a relief from pain?
If you're used to a life of pain and suffering, fantasy might seem like a little bit of relief, it's just like any other kind of temporary relief, though, it's just like things like drinking, drugs, anything where you are artificially altering your state of consciousness.
It might provide some numbness or escape, but at some point you have to come back to now. Usually, the more you escape from now, the more now changes into negative while you've escaped.
While you're drinking, you're trying to escape from the now in the fantasyland or while you're playing excessive amounts of video games, or while you're sitting there fantasizing in class about getting with another person, or while you're fantasizing at work about whatever fantasy you have at work.
Usually, now tends to get worse while you're not present. While you're off in your fantasies, you'll be ignoring things that are going on.
Fantasizing about the opposite sex
You know what happened to me?
While I was fantasizing about getting with all these different girls in high school, I would miss the girls that were trying to get with me. I would miss all their little subtle signs.
You had to practically knock me over the head to get me to figure out that you wanted to go out with me if you were a girl because I was so busy fantasizing, I was ignoring almost all of the actual people around me
Even the girls I was fantasizing about, I was ignoring how they were really treating me most of the time because I was not present. I was in my mind. I wasn't paying attention around me to the little subtle signs.
If you're fantasizing, you're taking away from the ability to pay attention to what's going on. I missed going out and getting to know a lot of different girls in person for real because I was sitting there trying to get to know them in fantasyland, in my mind.
If you will pay attention to the life around you, you'll usually find it's much better than whatever your fantasy is because it's real, it's here right now and it's amazing.
The thing is fantasizing starts with saying you don't like how things are, “I'm bored, I'm depressed, I'm irritated, I'm angry,” and then you go off into fantasyland or you escape some other way with alcohol, drugs, video games, even work can be an escape or excessive hobbies like playing golf all the time.
Whatever you're using as escape, usually, whenever you're escaping from the now into total fantasyland, when you come back, things will usually be worse. Meanwhile, you've neglected other things in your life.
Our entire society is built on fantasy
It gets into this vicious cycle: you fantasize, you come back, it’s worse, you go back to fantasizing.
What started out as maybe a harmless little fantasy turns into this awful thing, and then what's the problem?
As an adult, no one tells you that you should stop fantasizing and no one tells you how you should stop fantasizing. Most of our entire society, at least in America, is built on fantasy. All those drinking commercials are built on fantasy. Most of the video games and entertainment is built on fantasy.
Almost all of our existence in the USA is built on fantasy because the underlying discomfort with how things are, regardless of the fact that we're living in paradise, that everything is just perfect.
Regardless of the truth, the fantasy is the way of life because no one tells you that you should stop fantasizing, as you get older. It might seem reasonable when you're 13 and you've never been with a girl before, to fantasize about what it might be like to go on a date with one and get to know one.
How to stop fantasizing
When you are married and you’ve got a family, fantasizing about being with the neighbor's wife or whomever you're fantasizing about hurts. It hurts so badly because it's disrespecting all the things you do have, it's disrespecting the life you have been given and that's torture.
I've been in the habit of fantasizing most of my adult life and it made my life worse. The better my life got, the worst fantasizing has hurt. It hurts a lot to fantasize now and so that’s helped me to stop doing it.
One of the easiest tricks I used to stop fantasizing is to pray. I pray and I ask, I say something like, “Thank you God for what I have today. What I have now is beautiful, thank you.”
Or I pray and say, “Please let me pay attention to right now. Let me stop fantasizing. I'm thankful for my wife and my wonderful life. I'm thankful for that.” And so, that pops a bubble of fantasy.
Usually, that combined with thinking whatever fantasy I'm thinking out. So if I'm having some stupid fantasy, I think it out all the way because fantasy usually is a very focused approach, you're not usually thinking about the entire thing.
Fantasy dates versus real dates
When I was fantasizing about all those girls in high school, I wasn't thinking about anything except doing physical stuff with them, going out with them, and then maybe happily ever after.
I wasn't thinking of all the little things you actually do when you're with someone. I wasn't picturing going on a store with them. I wasn't picturing having an argument or fighting with them. I wasn't picturing what I'd be like to have a kid with them. I wasn't picturing a whole life together, I was just picturing one little thing.
I wasn't picturing the actual person either, I was picturing some fantasy version of them.
Sometimes, I got to go out with the girls I fantasized about and let me tell you how disappointing that was.
"Well, you know, in my fantasy, you did this, this and that and for real, you're on your phone the whole date and you're not hardly paying attention to me. Well, this is disappointing."
That hit me hard in high school. The first really good-looking girl I went on out with who really liked me, and that I actually noticed she was paying attention to me. Instead of me just being oblivious, I would go out with her, and the fantasy of going out with her was so much better than the actual thing itself.
I was so disappointed on the actual date that after just going to see a movie with her and going to her friend's house, as she was planning on spending the whole night it seemed, I then told her at about seven o'clock at night to go drop me back off at my parents’ house.
She was really hurt, and asked, “Why?”
She was having a lot of fun and I was miserable because all the times I had fantasized about what it'd be like to go out with her, or more generally a girl like her, she was being a regular teenager, she just was an ordinary girl.
She was being just who she was. She was distracted, she was talking on her phone, and she was all excited about hanging out with her friends. She was really excited to hang out with me too and she was just being a normal person.
Yet, when you fantasize about stuff, you ruin being a normal person. You ruin whatever you actually get to experience the fantasy, because it's not as good as what you thought.
It’s not as good as the fantasy because the fantasy is just imaginary, and the fantasy often doesn't think about the whole picture. You know, in the fantasy dates I rarely spent time in the car, I rarely actually thought about what it'd be like to get in the car and ride to go to a movie with a girl.
A fantasy usually skips straight to the movie, and then straight to whatever else sort of things were after that.
Thinking your fantasy through
Fantasizing is one of those clever ways that you really can hurt yourself and it's one of the things that you can stop doing if you pray or if you think it through.
It's easy enough to think a fantasy through in lots of situations because the fantasy will tend to focus on one certain thing. If it's a work fantasy, it will focus on a certain number of money you're seeing, and then all these other things.
If you think it through far enough, you'll defeat it.
If you think, “Oh, okay, I fantasize about this much money and having this. Okay, we'll keep going from there.”
What happens when you have that much money?
What happens when you have more?
"Well then, people are probably going to start taking and I'm going to start having problems, people are going to sue me, people are going to get jealous. I'm going to buy too many cars. I'm going to be a jerk at home. I might get a divorce."
If you really think out that fantasy you are having, usually, you'll come back and say:
“Okay, I'm really happy with what I have now. I don't need to start making a million dollars a day, and then have my whole life fall apart around me. I'm pretty happy making whatever I'm making today with the life I do have.”
This is a big breakthrough for me.
The better your life gets and the more organized your life gets, the easier it becomes to break down fantasy.
Sometimes in high school, when you're sitting in a boring class, it's hard to think through a fantasy and see that it wouldn't be better than the life you have. But the older you get, it gets easier to smash the fantasy by just thinking it through.
Drinking is a very fantasy based lifestyle, especially if you drink to excess. Now, you're not just having a drink or two, but you're getting drunk, you're going out to parties, and you think things all the way through, usually, it sounds miserable.
What your mind will usually do is think about, "Oh man, I can't wait to go there and have a few drinks. Maybe I'll meet someone, maybe we'll have some fun.”
Your mind will keep thinking about that.
Think about the next day:
“Well, I'm probably going to have a hangover. Whoever I met is probably not going to look as good in the morning and maybe I'm going to have done some shameful thing in bed with them. Maybe I'm going to have spent a bunch of money. I might end up in jail. I might have wrecked a car, someone might have gotten hurt.”
I'm going to start thinking that it is a good idea to do that again the next night.
Then the fantasy stops.
It stops being so fun and it starts looking like hell:
“Oh my God, do I really want to have a hangover? Do I want to go through all those bad things too? Wouldn't it be worth it to skip the fun, just to skip all that misery? And then to want to do it all again! Oh my God, I don't want to do that.”
And then, think about in 10 years from then.
"I'm married to this person I met when I was drunk and we had a kid. I don't even like them, now I'm getting a divorce."
"Now I have to drink every night just to even deal with myself and I feel bad every morning. Then I'm taking a few shots in the morning just to get started."
That doesn't look so good, does it?
When you think through, then the fantasy bubble pops.
“You know what, maybe I'll just stay home and read tonight. Maybe I don't want to go out and drink."
What works for me is to think things through and pray.
To pray and think things through smashes that bubble of fantasy.
When you're not in fantasyland, then you are present. Then the life around you will actually get a lot better. It will be fun, it will be fulfilling and it will be filled with things that are way better than fantasy.
I pray today that anytime I am escaping this moment with fantasy, I will ask for help returning back to it. I will think the fantasy through in order to pop the bottle of fantasy.
I'm grateful today that I already did that.
I'm thankful that I got experience this morning so that I could share this with you because I pray that if you need help with this, that this post has clearly communicated what works for me to not torture myself with fantasy.
Thank you very much for reading this post which was originally filmed as the video below!
The feedback on the video was so positive that I spent about $100 to get this post created for you here out of the video, and then edited it prior to publishing! I appreciate you being here and I hope you have a wonderful day today.
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Jerry Banfield with edits by @gmichelbkk