Fantasizing about a crush or significant other is as common as wearing rain boots in spring. However, sometimes the repetition of these thoughts can be damaging to your work ethic and emotional well being.
Fantasy can pop up anywhere throughout your day. Below are a few areas where it affects my life the most:
Fantasizing during class or work: Yes, class and work can be boring sometimes and it is certainly more fun to think about an awesome person. However, fantasizing can prevent you from fully grasping the material because you are not fully present. I’ve found myself fantasizing and then brought back to the present thinking, “What?” While it is possible to get similar information from textbooks or others’ notes, it is not the same as being fully engaged in the moment.
Fantasizing while walking around: When walking to and from class or completing errands, I frequently zone out into fantasy, mouthing words and gesticulating with my hands. This distracts me from the world around me, including other people and the environment. Which is better: a distracted, semi-late “hi” or a present, well-timed “hi!”?
Fantasizing about the potential things you could do or be with another person: Yes, we’re talking everything from getting dinner to getting married. Last year, I convinced myself that I would be with a person who did not respond to my messages forever. I fantasized about our children and companionship, and it made me feel secure. But it was not real; it was fantasy stability. These thoughts can make it awkward when interacting with another person because you have particular expectations that he does not have. Also, the fantasy can make the let down of something not working out that much tougher. It is not possible to predict the future. Things change. Really, relationships can only be taken one day at a time, and if those days add up to forever, then so be it.
Certainly, fantasy is a healthy part of life, as it helps us explore new possibilities. However, fantasizing can prevent us from fully living in the present moment. Ultimately, it is a balancing act: finding a healthy place for fantasy in your life is a constant work in progress. Below are some tips that have helped me:
Yoga: Practicing yoga helps calm your mind. Practice with an intention about focusing on yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. If unwanted thoughts come up, lightly brush them away using imagery (try a paintbrush, the tide of the ocean, or anything else that suits you).
Acknowledge and validate your thoughts: Your fantasies aren’t silly — they come from your desires. Through self-reflection, you can realistically evaluate the fantasy. Ask yourself: what role is this fantasy serving in your life? Why is this particular fantasy so appealing to you?
Focus on the present needs of your life: By living in the present moment, you become more engaged in where you are at this point in your life instead of a nostalgic past or fantastical future.
Respect your individual growth process: The aforementioned tips can seem easier said than done. They aren’t meant to be a “cure-all” but rather a guide. Balancing fantasy and staying present is a lifelong process. Your path will be different than another person’s. Be patient with yourself.
What role does fantasy play in your life? How do you manage fantasy?