Why Is It So Painful When You Return to Reality After Daydreaming?

Why Is It So Painful When You Return to Reality After Daydreaming? why is it so painful when you return to reality after daydreaming?

Why does it truly feel so distressing when you snap out of a daydream?

While the dream itself is undoubtedly delightful, transporting you to an imaginary world where time can stretch into what seems like hours or more, it’s that immediate return to the real world that proves most agonizing for most maladaptive daydreamers. In this article, we’ll figure out why going from daydreams to real life feels so confusing and emotional. We’ll look at why it can be hard to leave the fun world of daydreams and face regular life again.

Emotional Disconnect

When you’re in a daydream, you feel connected to the characters, you feel connected to those cool characters in that dream, you feel connected to the reality of the imaginary world, like everything is just going well, and you have this emotional connection.

But now, when you come back to the real world, there’s just this disinterest in what’s happening. You’re not interested in, let’s say, your job; you’re not interested in your life. Your life doesn’t have that positive vibe similar to what’s happening in the daydream. So, because of this emotional disconnection between you and your real life, you feel bad about yourself, or you feel like it’s better to be in that daydream. So, it’s painful because you try to compare the connection you have to the daydream with the connection you have in your life. When you come back to your real life, there’s just this disconnection.


The second reason is that the dream offers a form of escapism. Maladaptive daydreaming is a coping mechanism. It’s a coping mechanism for anxiety, stress, or just those unresolved wounds you are carrying within you. So, when you go into this imaginary world or when your mind holds you in this imaginary world, you’ll find that it’s like a safe refuge for you. It’s a place where you feel joyful, you might feel loved, you might feel worthy, you might feel just good about yourself.

But now, all those things which you are unconsciously or consciously running away from, they never really go away; they are still in you.


Regardless of the duration spent in the daydream, the eventual return to reality brings discomfort because it necessitates facing unresolved issues, anxieties, and stress that were momentarily set aside. This transition to addressing these concerns can be emotionally distressing.

Loss of Control

When you’re in your dream world, you always feel in control of what’s happening. You always feel in control of the story, the intricate storylines, the imagination; you always feel in control of the people there, the characters. It’s a place where you are in control of your life; it’s imaginary, but you are in control of your daydream because it’s happening in your mind.

But now, once you come back or snap out of that daydream, you realize that in your life, you don’t have control. You don’t have control over the activities; you don’t have control over people respecting you, people stepping on your boundaries, people hurting you, or just your personal life, your responsibilities. So, when you realize that you don’t have control, it becomes painful because you realize that you have to regain control of your real life.

Idealized Scenarios

Furthermore, in your daydreaming, you often construct idyllic life scenarios, especially when the daydream is steeped in positivity. These imaginings paint pictures of a flawless existence, an ideal relationship, perfect friendships, a dream job, or engaging adventures that truly captivate you. However, upon your return from this daydream, the stark contrast between these idealized visions and the realities of your everyday life becomes apparent. The dissonance between the two can be a source of disappointment and frustration as you grapple with the realization that life doesn’t always align with your daydreams.

Your actual life may not match your daydreams. For instance, you might have a boring job or struggle with difficult relationships, like with your parents. This reality often falls short of your idealized visions. When you compare your dreams to real life, you notice a big gap, and it’s this gap that makes you want to return to your idealized daydreams because real life doesn’t quite measure up to what you’ve imagined. This contrast is why it feels painful to leave your daydreams behind.

Time Discrepancy

So, a daydream consumes your time. It can consume that even if it’s every day, 40 minutes, one hour, sometimes even eight hours a day. So, when you lose this time, of course, this is the time you could be using for other activities, activities like working, brushing your teeth, taking care of yourself, self-care, going to school, working, taking that extra job, or just doing something to better your real life. So, when that time is taken from you, and you realize that you’ve lost time because of daydreaming, you feel ashamed, embarrassed, and you feel like you are wasting a lot of time in that imaginary world.

That’s why most people also feel guilty afterward because they feel that they need to stop; they are losing time. They are addicted to this daydream, and they need to stop it because they are losing a lot of time daydreaming.


One common theme for most maladaptive daydreamers is isolation because they are afraid of sharing with someone what they’re going through, or they’re not able to focus or concentrate on their relationships. Relationships actually require some effort, like calling someone, going for coffee, listening to them. So, because of these maintenance things relationships require, you might find yourself isolating yourself so that you can go into these daydreams.

When you isolate yourself from others, of course, you’ll feel that no one is there for you, no one is there to listen to you; you have no friends, no romantic relationships, or your friends are becoming distant because you are creating and preferring relationships in an imaginary world. But in this real world, you experience rejection, lack of support, betrayal. You kind of feel that it’s not the best place for you, and you always prefer the relationships in the imaginary world. So, when you come back, you realize that there’s a bit of emptiness, and you are a bit lonely. You don’t have any good friends and meaningful connections.


In conclusion, the intense pain that often accompanies the return from a daydream can be attributed to a series of emotional and psychological factors we’ve explored. The stark contrast between the euphoria of daydreaming and the reality we face upon snapping out of it can be jarring, leading to this discomfort. However, it’s essential to remember that daydreams are temporary escapes into our inner worlds. They offer you respite and creativity, but they cannot be your permanent dwelling place.

So, instead of beating yourself up, just look at how can I improve my relationships? How you can use your time better? How can I manage this daydream? That’s how you become an empowered adaptive daydreamer. You know you are experiencing these daydreams, and they’re taking up much of your time and affecting your relationships.

But now, you’re taking full responsibility for your real life, the same way you are taking full responsibility for your daydream. Take full responsibility for your life, and you will find yourself managing this daydream.

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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