Maladaptive Daydreaming: Feelings of self-hatred and self-criticism after a long daydream

Maladaptive Daydreaming: Feelings of self-hatred and self-criticism after a long daydream maladaptive daydreaming: feelings of self-hatred and self-criticism after a long daydream

In this article, we’ll explore a common response among maladaptive daydreamers known as self-loathing. Self-loathing refers to a strong feeling of dislike and negativity towards oneself. It happens because of the big difference between their daydreams and real life. Many maladaptive daydreamers experience this intense self-disapproval, and we’ll take a closer look at what it means and how it manifests in lives of most maladaptive daydreamers.

Negative Self-Talk

One prominent sign of self-loathing is negative self-talk. It manifests in various ways, but one prominent sign is negative self-talk. This negative self-talk represents a constant, harsh inner voice that criticizes and condemns oneself, often for reasons that do not warrant such self-criticism.

For instance, a maladaptive daydreamer might find themselves lost in a vivid daydream, only to snap back to reality and immediately start berating themselves with phrases like “I’m a failure” or “I’m unworthy.” These words become an everyday part of their internal dialogue, a never-ending loop of self-criticism. This relentless self-criticism is emotionally crippling because it erodes their self-esteem and self-worth, making it difficult for them to believe in themselves and their abilities.

This negative self-talk can be triggered by the stark contrast between the rich and fulfilling world of their daydreams and the sometimes challenging or unsatisfactory aspects of their real life. The constant comparison between their idealized fantasies and the reality they perceive as flawed fuels the self-loathing, reinforcing the notion that they fall short of their own expectations.

Feeling Inadequate

Low self-esteem is a significant component of self-loathing that many maladaptive daydreamers grapple with. It represents a profound sense of inadequacy and a persistent belief that they are undeserving of positive aspects of life, such as fulfilling jobs or meaningful relationships. These enduring feelings of unworthiness can profoundly impact their self-esteem, creating a cycle of self-doubt and emotional distress.

Imagine a maladaptive daydreamer who frequently retreats into a rich and vibrant fantasy world to escape the challenges and disappointments of real life. In their daydreams, they might be the hero, the center of admiration, and the embodiment of success. These daydreams offer an enticing contrast to their everyday existence, where they may face setbacks, rejection, or difficulties.

As a result, they may start believing that they don’t deserve the same good things in reality that they enjoy in their daydreams. This belief can become deeply ingrained, leading to low self-esteem. They might think, “I’m not worthy of that job promotion” or “I don’t deserve a loving relationship.” These thoughts can be constant companions, undermining their self-worth and their ability to pursue opportunities in real life.

Over time, this persistent sense of unworthiness can take a toll on their self-esteem, making it increasingly challenging for them to believe in themselves and their capabilities. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle where their self-loathing fuels low self-esteem, which in turn reinforces their self-loathing.

Guilt and Shame

Guilt and shame are profound emotional experiences that frequently accompany self-loathing in maladaptive daydreamers. These individuals often find themselves wrestling with feelings of wrongdoing and embarrassment due to their excessive daydreaming habits. Their self-loathing can intensify as they perceive themselves as inherently flawed for indulging in vivid fantasies, fully aware that these dreams may never materialize into reality.

Imagine a maladaptive daydreamer who spends hours each day escaping into intricate daydreams, where they lead a life vastly different from their own. In these fantasies, they may have superhuman abilities, immense popularity, or unrealistically perfect relationships. However, when they snap back to reality, they are acutely aware that their daydreams are a diversion from the real world’s challenges and responsibilities.

This awareness can be a breeding ground for guilt and shame. They may chastise themselves for wasting precious time on daydreams when they could have been productive in their actual life. Thoughts like “I’m a bad person for neglecting my responsibilities” or “I’m making a mistake by escaping into these fantasies” can haunt their conscience.

The realization that their daydreams are unlikely to ever become a reality can amplify these emotions. The stark contrast between their daydreams and real life reinforces the belief that they are living a lie, contributing to feelings of self-disgust. They may feel as though they are deceiving themselves and others, further intensifying their embarrassment.


Isolation is also another profound consequence of self-hatred often observed in maladaptive daydreamers. It emerges as a coping mechanism when individuals, grappling with intense self-loathing, push away others and withdraw from social connections. This retreat from meaningful relationships becomes a way to deal with the overwhelming negative emotions they experience.

Imagine a maladaptive daydreamer who is plagued by self-doubt, self-criticism, and a profound sense of unworthiness. They may find it increasingly difficult to engage with friends, family, or colleagues because they believe they don’t deserve these relationships. The contrasting worlds of their daydreams, where they are often the center of attention and admiration, and their real-life struggles further accentuate this belief.

In this context, social withdrawal serves as a protective mechanism. They may convince themselves that by distancing from others, they spare their loved ones from the burden of their perceived flaws and inadequacies. They may think, “I’m such a mess; I shouldn’t burden anyone with my problems.”

Additionally, isolation can be a way to avoid potential judgment or rejection. Maladaptive daydreamers may fear that if others knew the extent of their daydreaming or the depth of their self-loathing, they would be met with misunderstanding or disbelief. This fear can lead them to preemptively distance themselves from social situations, believing it’s the safer option.

However, this isolation can be paradoxical because it perpetuates their feelings of self-loathing. Loneliness often exacerbates negative emotions, making it even more challenging for them to break free from the cycle of self-hatred. The self-imposed solitude can lead to a deepening sense of loneliness and a longing for the connections they have pushed away.

Neglecting Self-Care

Neglecting self-care is another aspect of self-hatred among maladaptive daydreamers. This self-loathing can lead to a profound sense of unworthiness, causing them to disregard routine activities like basic hygiene — neglecting to brush their teeth or take showers. The belief that they are undeserving of self-care intensifies, making these essential tasks seem trivial in the face of their perceived inadequacies. Additionally, self-hatred can drive them towards unhealthy habits like excessive junk food consumption, as they may feel that indulging in such behavior is a way to further punish themselves for their perceived shortcomings. This disregard for self-care not only impacts their physical well-being but also reinforces their negative self-image, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of self-loathing and neglect.


Self-loathing often manifests as self-sabotage, a destructive pattern where individuals deliberately undermine their own chances of success and happiness. Maladaptive daydreamers, grappling with intense self-disapproval, may push away valuable support systems like promising job opportunities or potentially fulfilling relationships, convinced they are unworthy of such positive experiences. This self-destructive behavior, fueled by their self-loathing, becomes a repetitive cycle that reinforces their negative self-image and hinders their personal growth. It’s as though they are locked in a self-imposed prison of their own making, where they actively thwart their own opportunities for a better life, perpetuating the cycle of self-hatred and self-sabotage


Self-hatred is a common experience for maladaptive daydreamers, triggered by their struggle with excessive daydreaming. It manifests as negative self-talk, feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, isolation, neglect of self-care and self-sabotage.

Recognizing these patterns is the first step toward healing. In our next discussion, we will explore coping mechanisms to break free from this cycle of self-loathing. Remember, you don’t deserve to punish yourself; you deserve self-compassion and healing.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with overcoming and managing maladaptive daydreaming without spending years in therapy, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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