Vocalizing Maladaptive Daydreams: A Practical ApproachLast Updated:
In the past I’ve written extensively about the central irony of maladaptive daydreaming: it’s something that can be done for hours each day, from nearly the moment one wakes up to nearly the moment one falls asleep, yet most maladaptive daydreamers never actually externalize their internal monologue.
There are many possible reasons for this, and it could be that different people have different reasons for keeping their maladaptive daydreams entirely within their own head – never writing them down, and most certainly never telling others about them.
However, the reason that I think is most applicable to most people is pretty straight-forward: everyone knows, deep down, that their maladaptive daydreams are somewhat silly and it’s embarrassing not only to tell others about them, but to even externalize them to yourself through writing them down or speaking them aloud.
This is the rationale for stating in my book, and in posts on this blog, that you should take the time to commit pen to paper and actually write down your maladaptive daydreams in as much detail as possible. There’s no need to spend hours agonizing over word choice or creating some linear structure to this writing. Instead, treat it as a “stream of consciousness” writing exercise where you just write as much about your maladaptive daydreams as possible – what the script of your daydreams normally entails, who the main characters are, etc.
I stress that you don’t need to show anyone what you’ve written down. In fact, it’s better to not do so (at least initially). It’s better to write whatever comes to your mind, free of any inhibitions, and tell yourself that it doesn’t matter how embarrassing what you write is because no one will ever see it: just write about your daydreams on a piece of paper and then ball it up and throw it away when you’re done.
For many people, simply writing down their maladaptive daydreams has a similar effect as fog lifting over a city – somehow, someway it reveals one’s daydreams for the somewhat silly thing that they are. And this, in turn, makes them much less appealing to engage in moving forward.
However, if you’re looking to take another approach – either instead of writing down your maladaptive daydreams or in conjunction with doing so – then consider talking about them out loud...
Vocalizing Your Maladaptive Daydreams
In the end, it’s important to externalize your maladaptive daydreams: taking them from being an internal monologue to being an external description. However, most people, for obvious reasons, are reluctant to talk to others about their maladaptive daydreams due to embarrassment, fear of judgement, etc.
But many have found that simply talking about their daydreams aloud – to themselves, not to anyone else – has a similar “lifting of the fog” impact as writing them down does. Now talking about your maladaptive daydreams to yourself out loud can sound a bit odd at first, or at least a bit awkward, but there are a few techniques you can utilize to make it a bit easier to get started (remember: the purpose of this is simply to externalize your maladaptive daydreams instead of keeping them purely in your head).
The first technique is to pretend that you’re being interviewed by someone who’s curious about your maladaptive daydreams. Then you simply answer, out loud, what your maladaptive daydreams involve, when you first noticed that you had them, how they’ve changed or evolved over time, etc. The main thing you want to do is be honest (since you aren’t really being interviewed by anyone!) and riff on your maladaptive daydreams.
Needless to say, many find this exceptionally awkward to do, and I’m sure many begin to blush as they’re speaking about their maladaptive daydreams out loud (even though no one is really listening) because it can be embarrassing to admit (again, even though no one is really listening) that you’ve engaged in such an extensive amount of daydreaming, often on topics that are entirely divorced from your own life.
The second technique, that’s a bit easier to get started with, is simply to write down your maladaptive daydreams, just as I’ve described before, but then take what you’ve written and read it out loud. This is a way for you to further externalize your maladaptive daydreams: being totally honest with yourself about what’s going through your head and being able to hear your (external) voice articulate it.
Recording Your Maladaptive Daydreams
Finally, if you want to take things a step further, you can write down your maladaptive daydreams, read them out loud, record yourself doing so on your phone, and then listen to yourself describing them.
This is something that many will find exceptionally challenging to do. It’s hard enough to write down one’s maladaptive daydreams, even if one knows that no one else will ever end up reading what’s been written. But reading what one has written out loud, then recording it, and then listening back to it is even harder – because it fully externalizes your maladaptive daydreams and forces you to confront, almost as a third-party, what is going through your head.
It's not an overstatement to say that this technique requires quite a bit of will-power to do, and many find it very difficult to hear their own voice explaining their daydreams (even though, of course, their internal voice is the one that’s produced these daydreams to begin with).
But if you feel reluctant to write down your daydreams or speak about them out loud to yourself or listen to a recording of yourself explaining your maladaptive daydreams, it’s important to ask yourself why. The answer, for most, is an embarrassment over their maladaptive daydreams and not wanting to admit to themselves that they’ve spent so much of their waking hours engaged in them.
And therein lies the power of this technique. It forces you to fully acknowledge your maladaptive daydreams through listening to them as an observer would, and this has a way of making your maladaptive daydreams less appealing to engage in moving forward – because suddenly you fully realize, or fully appreciate, how little value they add to your life.
I’ve often said that the healthiest way to approach quitting maladaptive dreaming is to treat it like an experiment: try a number of different approaches and see what works well for you. Writing down your maladaptive daydreams is a tried and true method – one that has helped significantly, or sometimes even entirely, diminish the appeal of many people’s maladaptive daydreams.
However, if writing down your maladaptive daydreams didn’t have the impact you were hoping for, then feel free to try vocalizing your maladaptive daydreams – or even record yourself vocalizing your maladaptive daydreams and then listen back to it.
The benefit of the techniques listed above is that you’re doing it all alone. So even though they may feel awkward to do, there won’t be anyone around to judge you (except for yourself, but you should be proud of yourself, not judgmental toward yourself, for trying out different techniques for overcoming your maladaptive daydreams!).
Hopefully these techniques prove useful – and, as always, I wish you the very best of luck in your journey.