why do we fantasize and day dream

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Living in a fantasy world

Why do we day dream while studying?
Why do we fantasize about other people?
Why do we visualize ourselves as heroes, saviors or legendary characters?

The human brain was designed brilliantly. It can allow us to imagine ourselves going anywhere, at anytime and with anyone. While that brain feature is very tempting to use not all people use it with the same frequency.

Some people for example waste the whole day fantasizing about different things, Others only fantasize when they do a certain task that requires concentration such as studying or working.

So the question is, why don't we all fantasize equally?

This is why people Fantasize and day dream

Below are the most common reasons that motivate people to fantasize:

  • 1) Planned distraction: Sometimes you find yourself in confusing situations where you have to do a certain task because its important yet in the same time you find it unbearable. Studying a difficult chapter or doing a hard task might be very unpleasant and that's where your subconscious mind moves in to distract you with fantasies on purpose. When i used the term planned distraction i wasn't referring to your conscious plans but rather to the plans of your subconscious mind
  • 2) Fear: Lets suppose that your subconscious mind believed that you wont get good grades even if you studied well. In such a case your self esteem will be affected badly as a result of believing that you are not incompetent. How can this problem be solved? Simply by day dreaming all day you wont have a time to study and when you get bad grades you can safely blame your inability to concentrate instead of blaming your mind. (see also Why can't i concentrate when i study)
  • 3) Unfulfilled dreams and unmet goals: Most people fantasize about what they didn't manage to do in real life. One of the most common uses of a fantasy is to satisfy a need that you couldn't manage to satisfy in the real world. For example, if you always wanted to marry a certain person but that person got married then you might start fantasizing about being with him
  • 4) Running away: When reality becomes too tough to be handled many people escape to fantasies in order to feel better. That's why people fantasize more often after going through drastic failures. After experiencing some kind of a loss a person might start fantasizing just to run away to a virtual world where he can feel more in control (see also Escaping from reality)
  • 5) Reflection of suppressed desires: Many people fail to communicate their real needs to others as a result of social pressure. Some people have uncommon desires that they can't state because of shame. Those people usually use fantasies to unleash these desires without experiencing shame. This is also the reason why your fantasies can tell a lot about your personality.

Can fantasies really help?

In most cases fantasies are of no real use. In fact fantasies can do more harm than good. While creative visualization can help a person become more motivated to pursue his goals fantasies can slow down a person's progress since they allow him to escape.

If you escape to a fantasy world very frequently then know that you are not happy with your real world. Instead of fantasizing about things that won't happen put your energy into you real world in order to change it to the better.

If your mind has certain needs then nothing can help you fulfill them except serious actions and not day dreams.

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