My daydreams are invariably unpleasant, and yet I feel compelled to do it. It takes up a lot of time and energy and I had to drop out of a class because of it. My therapist gave me a technique that worked for me!
We did an experiment: for a week, we decided that I would only dream on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 3pm for 15 minutes and ONLY fifteen minutes, and I HAD to daydream for those entire 15 minutes. I would postpone all daydreams until those times. At other times, if I felt the desire to daydream, I would tell myself, "It's OK to do this, and I will do it later." I knew that I would allow myself the time to daydream, so it didn't feel like a punishment. Then 3pm on Sunday would arrive, often at a time when I was in the middle of something else. I would think, "I don't want to daydream right NOW, I am having a fun time with my Dad!" or, "I'm at work!", or, "I really don't feeling like making myself anxious right now." But I had to do it in order to carry out the psychological experiment. So I would find someplace to be alone and force myself to daydream. I found daydreaming to be a lot harder if I was SUPPOSED to do it. Daydreaming is an escape, not something on my to-do list! I couldn't focus on the daydream, or make it vivid. Instead I felt restless and wanted to get back to my day, and I would sit there unhappily for 15 minutes. I set a low volume, pleasant alarm on my phone (a meditation bell) to make sure it only lasted 15 minutes.
For the rest of the week, if I wanted to daydream, I would postpone it--remembering that this was just an experiment for the week to see if it would work, it would not have to be forever.
And it worked. After a few weeks of this, my daydreams dramatically reduced. We theorized that this was because I had discovered that I was in charge of my daydreams and they did not control me. Before, I thought that I couldn't help daydreaming. I knew they were voluntary, and yet I despaired because it just felt too hard to stop. But I learned that I could, in fact, choose when to daydream and when not to. I felt empowered and hopeful, and open to trying new techniques. Maybe the patterns in my brain are, in fact, changeable, or at least manageable.
This might not work for everyone; sometimes you just have to find the right therapist and the right techniques for you. But it worked for me, so maybe it will work for others!
PS: I will NOT try this with my suicidal ideations--I don't want to take the risk.
Thankyou scout for sharing this!!!! I would start trying this from today onwards itself! How did you fight your restlessness when you were trying postpone your daydreaming? I get triggered by simplest of academic problems so I wondered whether you did something as a response to such triggers? Also did you try also managing fixed time of the day for outside factors that might trigger daydreaming, like music, television or books?