Do You Daydream, Think A Lot, and Live Inside Your Head?

think and live inside your head

Do you often wander off into your own thoughts?

Do you daydream and “zone out” many times a day?

Do you always talk to yourself in your head almost to the point that you are living inside your head instead of out in the real world?

If so, then you’re not alone. I used to be a huge daydreamer. I would always be thinking about things and fantasizing about things happening. Whether I was by myself or with other people.

I was always lost inside my own thoughts and payed little attention to the outside world. And I didn’t even realize how often I was doing it until one day, in high school, someone mentioned that I was a daydreamer.

At that point I started to become aware of how often I was caught up in my own thoughts, getting lost in my own inner world. I was always absent from the real world because I was thinking to myself constantly.

It almost felt like I was cut off from the world, just looking into it but not interacting with it. I felt trapped. It was very difficult to socialize with other people because I was never “there.”

It would be many years after this realization that I would learn that many people with shyness and social anxiety suffer from the same dilemma. Constantly caught up in their thoughts, daydreaming, being absent mentally from the people around them and the outer world.

If this describes you, then this article is going to change the way you live.

Why Are You Constantly Thinking and Daydreaming?

Why is it that people with shyness and social anxiety daydream so much? Why is it such a common problem for them compared to “regular” people?

My guess is that it’s a form of partial avoidance. To understand what partial avoidance is, you first have to know what avoidance is.

Avoidance is when someone who has social anxiety avoids the situations that make them feel anxious. They may avoid doing speeches in school. They may see someone they know walking towards them down the street and quickly try to find ways to avoid them. They may even get to the point of staying inside their house all day. These are all examples of avoidance. You avoid the people, places, and situations that make you feel anxious.

So now what does partial avoidance mean? Partial avoidance is a little more subtle than regular avoidance.

Partial avoidance means that you avoid situations mentally instead of physically. Instead of avoiding the situation by not going into it physically, you avoid it with your mind. You are distancing yourself from the anxiety-provoking situation you are in through using distractions, daydreaming, and so on. Partial avoidance is usually mental avoidance of the thing you fear. In the case of social anxiety, that probably means being around people.

Basically, if you feel anxious just being around people, then your mind may start to daydream and get lost in thought so you don’t have to “face” the situation fully. It’s a way of lessening the unpleasant feeling of anxiety.

Escaping a Painful Reality

Another possible reason why people with shyness or social anxiety daydream a lot is to escape their current situation. If you are shy, if you don’t have a lot of friends, if you don’t really like yourself, then you may try to escape from that reality. You may begin to use your thoughts to live a life that your shyness or social anxiety holds you back from.

If you’re too nervous to ask out a girl you like, then you may fantasize about going out with her in your head. If you are too shy too speak up, then you may imagine yourself doing it. If you aren’t assertive enough to do something you want to do, or be the person you want to be, then you may live these things out in your head instead.

All of these examples illustrate one fundamental thing: using your thoughts to escape reality. You create a new reality in your head that is much closer to the one you’d like to be in. It’s the reality that would exist if you didn’t have the social fear or excessive social inhibition holding you back.

In a nutshell, your shyness or social anxiety stop you from living the life you want, which causes you to get stuck in your head, which just makes it harder to overcome your shyness or anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle.

Learning How to Become Present

Now that you know a couple possible reasons why you daydream and live in your head, the question is: how can you fix it? How do you stop being absent to the world? How do you stop escaping it through excessive thoughts and daydreaming?

It took me a long time to figure out the answer to these questions, but I finally found it. And I found it in the unlikeliest of places.

A couple years ago, a friend recommended to me a book called “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a book that explains the basics of meditation and how to be present to the moment. Since I like to read a lot, I decided to give it a shot.

The book rocked my world. No kidding.

This was the book that helped me stop constant daydreaming and thinking. I was finally able to stop the inner mental noise and be “present” to the world instead of lost in my own thoughts.

Essentially, the book teaches you how to quiet your thoughts so that you are able to live more in the present moment. It does this through several different mental exercises that you need to do regularly. The exercises are closely related to meditation.

If you have problems daydreaming and thinking too much, then this book gets my highest recommendation. You can purchase it at Amazon here or most local bookstores.

Of course, if you don’t want to read a whole book just to learn how to become present, then there is another option for you…

In my ebook, I wrote a chapter called “Mindfulness and Being Present.” In this chapter, I took the most important techniques and tools from “The Power of Now,” as well as other books and my own personal experience. I then combined and summarized them in a way that someone with social anxiety can quickly learn how to stop daydreaming and thinking too much.

So if you want to “get straight to the goods,” so to speak, without having to read a whole book, then you can download my ebook here.

Whichever option you choose, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. If you’ve read this far, then you have probably had this problem for years, if not forever. Use this post as a wake-up call. You can do something about it. Don’t wait to live.

About the author

Sean Cooper

I study all areas of psychology, sharing what works (and what doesn't) for overcoming shyness and social anxiety. After curing my own severe social anxiety I created "The Shyness and Social Anxiety System" to help others. This program has received stunning reviews from psychologists and people like you.

Now it's my life's mission is to help 25,000 people get the confidence, friends and romantic partner you want!

Read more about me here.

65 Comments

  • Hello Mr. Cooper. I really enjoy reading the material in your articles. Getting out of my head has become one of my top priorities in the last 2 or 3 years. I would like to read your ebook but the download isn’t supported on my phone. Can you email the full ebook to me instead so I can read it without having to download it?

  • Thanks Sean,
    I have social anxiety (specific) problem. I too daydream a lot, and till now I thought I might have ADHD that I am not able to concentrate and I get lost repetitively in my dreams and thoughts. I didn’t know that these two might be correlated in some way. I really need to read that book.

    • I have the same problem in fact I’m so behind in math class because I can’t concentrate, I try but I end up finding a way to daydream. I started at the age of 9. Just constantly daydreaming about different life stories in my head. I never knew it was obvious until my mother pointed it out. It really puts me down, it makes me feel like i hate myself and that I’ll never be happy unless I get over this. I know I won’t because I try not too. It’ll only stop if I die. It was normal at first but now it’s crazy like I do it every second. It makes me cry for no reason. And I realised whether I carry on daydreaming or not it doesn’t matter the thing that bothered me the most was thinking I was the only one. I wanted to talk to someone who actually gets me. I wouldn’t say I’m shy or I don’t have social anxiety but I know that this isn’t normal.

  • Thank you so much for that article on day dreaming/living inside your head Sean. It describes me perfectly. It was a great relief to read it. Will either try to get The Power of Now or your eBook.

    • Thank Sean for your article. I would like to take this opportunity to share my accidental experience for how to stop my maladaptive daydream habit. I am a Chinese over 40 and start to daydream in my early childhood. The decades long fantasy of my idealized self make me become more withdrawn, socially awkward and shy (but i did not aware of the problems is caused by my daydream habit). I thought my shyness, withdrawn behaviour was my personality or my gene.
      One day, when i sought help from a counselor for managing my stage fright problem, during hypnotherapy, i accidentally aware that i habitually to use maladaptive daydream to resolve my problem that i actually did not resolve in reality. e.g. insecurity, interpersonal conflicts, despair. I realized that daydream suppress me to reveal my feeling to other even to myself. Therefore, i enjoyed living in a fantasy world but not in reality.
      From that day onward, i become more aware of my tendency to start maladaptive daydream and i can ‘shut down’ the imagination of my idealized self effortlessly.
      Even though i still daydream, i am thinking more practical things to resolve the daily issue. I now feel brighter, less sleepy, more attentive and willing to interact with other and share my own feeling.
      Hope this with helpful with other who encounter similar experience.

  • I’ve always spent a lot of my time daydreaming for as long as I can remember. I’m always in complete control of what i’m thinking about. so it’s really more envisioning a different reality than daydreaming. I’m always imagining different scenarios in my head where i’m just thus perfect girl that’s got everything going for her (better looking, more successful) and has a loving boyfriend. I spend so much time envisioning this alternate life that i’m not really living my real life. Is there any way I can harness these thoughts and make them into a reality instead of spending all this time escaping into my mind?

    • I suggest asking yourself why i am daydreaming this and use some of the daydreaming to find out how you can make it reallity

  • Thanks a lot for writing this! I couldn’t quite come up with why I daydream so much and or how to stop, but now I know why! What a relief!THANKS FOR SHARING.

  • I am day dreamer also….I thought that I get admission in a top engineering college in India,that deals with my result also……I scored only 53% marks……That ruins my engineering career………my whole life.

  • I day dream vividly all day. I was wondering if this is something others do, yet when I search on google all I get is negative responses – how to be better in the present. Where are all the – be happy with who you are posts, daydreaming is not something to be cured. I might spend most my head in castles and fighting monsters but how do you know I’m not happier than you, ow and the sane one.

  • I hope dis buk vl help me…Yess iam calld day dreamr…its lil bit diff being in dis way ssply in medical profession…I stay in hostel so yea I day dream a lot…n particularly iam kinda insomnia person so it actually gets into my head evry nite…I genuinly liked dis artical bcz I thougt nly iam suffering frm dis….!!!

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS.
    This article describes me so much, I feel like living in my head is more appealing to me than reality and I’ve been finding it harder and harder to focus at school.I had no idea what was wrong with me, I never really realized until now that I have social anxiety. It’s been getting me really low my mind tends to feel cloudy a lot and I constantly daydream, especially if I’m having a bad day. I’m awkward to talk to unless we’re really close. People have called me numb brain since I often tend to zone out and they notice ugh. It really is a vicious cycle, I think it may have started a couple years ago, what causes it? I’m 16 now, I thought id grow out of it but clearly I need to make a change.Thanks

  • I daydream, think a lot and live inside my head because I prefer it to the external world. This does NOT make someone shy or socially anxious. It makes them uninterested in the outside world. Don’t ever let someone else make you think that this is wrong or it a problem like this article pretends.

  • To be honest, It hurts alot to realize that everything that I read here is so accurate. I feel terrible that I’m unable to concentrate during school and unable to make friends. I always end up thinking in my alternate world in my head where everything is so perfect that I lose what I remembered from reality. The dreaming tends to get worse and worse as my alternate ego has pretty much created an entire new world. I could probably create a novel with the amount of daydreaming that I’ve had. I’m shaking right now because I feel so bad for myself. I will be definitely buying the book to see if it’ll help me. Thank you so much for making me realize my problem that I’ve been avoiding for an entire year.

    • Will, you should write the novel or maybe a journal about your daydreams. You probably have a very creative mind, but you need to learn how to use it in a positive and purpose-driven way. Artists and creative people need to daydream in order to create new ideas, so instead of getting caught up in your own alternate world, you should try to bring your dreams to life and use them as an inspiration to take action in your real life. As I read in another article: “you have to remember that reality is where your dreams can come true”.

  • I have been facing this problem for almost 20 yrs now.its so sad that i couldnot realise the problem i have earlier until today after reading this article which has exactly described my problem.I completly never concetrated on class and revision which greatly affected my accademic performance negatively.I even reached a point of thinking that may be i was bewitched since iam an african where witchcraft is common. Thank God who guided me today to this web site which i hope is going to be a turning point in my life.Thank you may God reward you abundantly.

  • Thanks for the article, Sean.
    I always think too much about an alternate life where i achieve everything i put my mind to, yet fail miserably in real life because i spend all my time thinking/ daydreaming or reading fantasy books.
    I used to think it was a good thing, but after a while it become clear that it was not very productive as i had though it to be.
    I will definitely endure to be more in the now and deal with all my procrastinated issues.

  • Hello, thanks for the article, I finally understood what my problem was. I have OCD and probably other disorders but it all happened for living inside my fantasy world because the real world really scares me and it’s definetely not perfect. Treating my OCD I started using Mindfulness and my life really changed. It felt really scary, because you can’t cope the same way you’d want to. But it’s not impossible and I’d like to face my fears instead of avoiding them.I always daydreamed a lot about how my life would be because I find mine really boring and scary at the same time. Thanks for recommending the book, I’m going to check out both things

  • Thanks a lot for this stuff,really helps. In case of me, it’s been a problem for quite a long time. The thing with me is that I kind of have a boring and lousy life for last 3 year or so and it is in this period this thing became quite a obsession. To be frank, it feels good to Day dream but when you realize you can never be that particular human you envy so much it literally bleeds from inside. I am still kind of conscious about it but I am still miserable. Whenever i used to realize that it is getting bit too unhealthy i used to hold myself back and console my self but soon i return sad and dull again. Its kind of thing u cant consult unless he/she really understand. Unfortunately i don’t have that pleasure too. But reading stuff like this, I guess i am not alone feeling like that, people have such problems and they r handling it quite successfully too…..so thank u so much. I hopefully too expect some help from the book.

  • Having difficulties in life, living in parallel worlds of reality and fantasy, no emotions to myself and for other. Have a family but still live in fantasy of running a successful business, being busy and being “normal” in life. Lack of friends, well real friends, and even those friends know that something is not right about me. No structure or discipline in life. Slit wrist to the tendon a few years back, but was rushed to hospital and survive to write this today.

    I would like to read your e-book. Hope it may help before it is too late in this life. Living for others.

  • Thank you so much for this book it’s like explains everything I’m going through and it needs to stop Thank you.

  • Hi, that was very enlightening. I’m positive that most of your readers can relate to this. I’ll also recommend the book you mentioned. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m 18 and I have sufferd from this since childhood. It causes me to be awkward around people and never helped me In classes because I was always thinking and daydreaming. I imagine myself doing things everyday but they wont happen in reality and sometimes find myself having an argument with myself in my mind because I think about social situations over and over after they have happened. Also, I sometimes feel depressed and I hate staying at home during the day because it makes me feel undescribably worthless. I don’t have anyone who I can talk to about these issues but I really wish I could have!

      • i have the same problem, like me and my girlfriend, well she wanted to take a break. because i live an hour away from her, i dont know how its gonna work but i really want it too!

  • It is really shocking to see more people facing the same situation what Iam facing for years.The passage is like someone explains about me very acurately.The article explains every action I would do to escape from reality and the way I enjoyed it.

    But the thing is the virtual world inside my head does not exactly pictueize me but a different person instead who is very tall and well built with a fair look and also with a different name called “Sankar”(my original name is Vignesh).Even sometimes in the real world I would say that name is Sankar at some situations if somebody asks for my name.

    Also Iam making some actions and gestures in the reality without actually knowing that Iam doing those and many times my friends and colleagues had notice them and criticised me.
    Is there a solution for this too?

  • Im 14 ive been doing this since i was about 9 and it really p**ses me off that i cant help it ,but in another sence it makes me feel comfortable,it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t 23/7

    • You are very lucky to have learned this about yourself at this age. I started becoming very reserved around junior high/early highshool also. Just try to be patient ..im now in my late 20s learning how to do this for the first time. Imagine having to deal with sa for that long. Be patient

  • I dont know if what i havr is normal sometimes i loose track of what im doing mostly when im walking if some thing happened to me the night before or the same day I loose my head in what im thinking. Even though I live my life normal and i know that I’m walking somewhere my head makes me think im somewhere else I have my chlidren with me and I’m not present in what they tell me. My thoughts take over me and I feel like I’m really telling some one what i feel some times i feel angry or think I’m going to find money and buy cars and that i go and do it and go eat and i feel like im there its weird i can explain everything it scares me cause I do it constantly moslty when i walk. Could i be just a daydreamer or am I crazy?

  • well.. daydreaming habit is quite a pain in a** . it makes feel getting lost in the different world , where i could be smarter than other, taller , lil black but more comfortable. more success, more money and more brainy . but the reality is thousand miles far . this manipulative day dreaming have its effect on my time schedule (it was never fun to wake up .. all the talks in my head will wake up me whole night), my concentration skill it sucks .. scores were never above c , all the time characters in my dream used to dramatize , and i believe i was a audience a critical audience . this habit actually would have turned me into writer but it only wasted my time – my precious time.i felt i was a actor who have to act with dialogues with gestures but with low voice as brain was active to make me alert that the real world people would know i shouting with no other reason. i feel introvert, shy , no Friends and living in neutral family leaves me always alone and all the love , care , attention , tragedy i would require in real life i would imagine it in my head .and would constantly feel happy as if i was married but only my character was married. this daydreaming is wasteful , but many times i found myself helpless . how can i overcome this habit ? enjoy my life

  • Garbage! It’s called Introversion. Stop trying to malign a completely natural orientation. The pharmaceutical industry loves “mental illness”.

  • Hi, I’m from South Africa
    Growing up (m 25yrz) I always felt lyk de was something wrong wit me but I couldnt explain what was rong until last year when I came across a Bipolar documetary oN Youtube, den I did some futher readings n fiNaly de was a name 4 dat thing dat was rong wit me except de was one part missing, Dis extream day dreams its lyk I have another life iNside my head, 2day I found out dat its Maladaptive daydreaming. my day dreams r controlled by my Bipoler cycle ( negative or Positive ). Da problem is dat I spend a lot of time day dreamiNg and not do anything iN real life, even wen I am aware dat i spend a lot of time doing nothing I can’t stop its a habbit I guess its lyk tryng 2 quite smokiNg, I feel lyk I have 10 hrs wen every1 has 24 hrs. I also have Eisoptrophobia which is being scared of your own reflection. Thanks

  • i dont know how to stop my daydreaming, i am always thinking and daydreaming in classes. i am always daydreaming about this problem that im going through.

  • Great article, Sean! Thank you so much for the advice, it’s very helpful.

    I always enjoy daydreaming when I need some inspiration (I work in a creative field), so I firmly believe that great artists are always daydreamers who bring ther dreams to life through their own creations, such as movies, books, paintings, music and so on. Daydreaming can become a powerful instrument of inspiration and motivation to improve yourself and your life.

    But I also believe that there is a time and a place for letting your mind wander (obviously I wouldn’t recommend it while you’re driving or during work), and of course, daydreaming should NEVER be used to scape our reality; instead, daydreams should be a tool to know ourselves and to inspire us to find meaning and purpose in our real lives.

    Thanks again for writing about this interesting topic! Awesome article. 🙂

  • Wow I thought that having this problem was something that only a few people had, but I’m really suprised to see that I’m not as alone as I thought. This has always been a HUGE problem for me, but now after reading your book I’m starting to get a little better. It’s hard but also worth it! Great article.

  • I don’t think daydreaming is a bad thing. I used to be an intensive daydreamer (I have bipolar, anxiety and OCD), but it stopped after I had my first full blown manic episode and the resulting depression. I now wish I had the daydreaming ability, it is better to fake experiencing a good life than having none at all

  • I’ve been looking these types of helpful articles and sites from some time. I’m suffering from it and similar other problems. Helped alot, Great article. People going with these problems feel better by reading it. It does create a hope for them. Physicians can do their job but i think people who overcame from a situation like that themselves can also help alot. Thanks alot Sean. I’d like to have that book.

  • Hi, I’m unsure of what my problem is, I daydream almost all the time , I get embarrassed way to easily , and they cause me to do stupid things that make me feel worse, I’ve never used to be like this it’s only the end of last year I started feeling this way, when I’m around friends I am perfectly fine , but when a new person is around it takes me a while to get back to normal, it can take a few times meeting this new person or it could be in one day,but its affecting me bad, I guess I need someone to help me back to the way I used to be, can anyone help?

  • I wonder do I wanna leave my imaginary bubble ?
    and most importantly will I manage without it ? I don’t think I can face reality

  • A good one, Sean. I used to be a daydreamer as well, I just couldn’t move on because it was so comfortable to be inside my own imagination. I think we shouldn’t abandon the ability to live inside our own mind, it has to be a balance. Know when to wake up and live in the present and daydream at the right time!

  • you said “You create a new reality in your head” , i wouldn’t use the word reality in here , it’s just an illusion , and in my case i take no pleasure in trying to escape reality by imagining things in my head , it generates only frustration
    but ,anyway , more of the things that you mentioned describes me pefectly

  • Hi,
    I want to get rid of this habit of daydreaming, but I am so immersed in it and enjoy it that I do want to let the feeling go, while I also want to live happy without daydreaming.

    I will red your book, but right now I am sort of confused

  • Thanks for the book you recommended. I was actually looking for that.

    I started this habit of daydreaming in my childhood and it was my way of escaping the reality I never wanted and get the one I want and now it is affecting my life negatively.

  • I completely agree that daydreaming is the cause for social anxiety, but the way you wrote it you made it sound like social anxiety is causing daydreaming. From my perspective I am not in the zone (or moment ) enough to just let my brain free flow with natural conversation, so it immediately gets weird. The power of now was an interesting book, but I didn’t find it helpful for practising my ability to stay in the present, but then again, nothing has helped… Just thought it was cool that someone else made the connection between social anxiety and daydreaming.

  • Thanks for sharing this Sean. This article describes me perfectly.
    It all started when I was pretty young, I used to stare at empty spaces with no activity. My parents would look and ask what I’m staring at. It got worse later when i got into secondary school, I liked football, so I used to daydream that I was a player like Neymar playing in the left.
    I also daydream about being a prominent person like, after reading about Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Musk etc.
    Not until recently, I didn’t accept my reality of being an Electrical Engineering student. I used to think that I have BPD and ADHD.
    The shyness is there, also I get anxiety attacks when I suddenly become aware of certain realities that feel normal to eveyone else.
    I used to think I had super powers of some sort but with the harm to had caused, I’ll definitely get either your ebook or the recommended book or both. I’m glad I got to see this article thanks again for sharing.
    Opinions about my experience are hugely welcomed and would be appreciated.

  • Sean Cooper,

    If my stuckness in my head is due to present moment avoidance, how can I possibly practice the only thing for obessesive people like me which is to ground myself in the moment, where the moment is what I’m trying to consciously or subconsciously escape. more often than not is my office job, which I have come to detest, but that is not even the problem, the issue I have is not only that the work is repetitive and uncreative and mind numbing dumb, my real problem is that at the tender age of 50 I don’t have the first clue what it is that I want to do for the paycheck that I very much need.
    Any input is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks T.

  • I daydream especially when i want to avoid studying. I sit on my study chair and wonder things that would never occur in reality.

  • I’m so glad that I was able to stumble upon your article. I have been dealing with this nearly all of my life. Most of it comes from being bullied. My life is hell and I find my self daydreaming a lot about how my life could be better. In stead of studying for an exam, I would be sitting in bed daydreaming about studying and making a good grade. Instead of hitting the gym, I would daydream about hitting the gym and getting fit. Instead of socializing and making friends, I daydream about socializing with strangers and becoming best buds. Only if I could find a way to change my life around without being the center of attention for once, I most likely wouldn’t have to constantly daydream about having a better life. I stick out like a sore thumb, but I have to learn how to deal with it.
    I’m going to take a look at your e-book. From reading your article it seems like your e-book will be promising. I’m also glad that I was able to come across a lot of people with similar issues. Reading the comment section help me find what little confidence I have left. I’m happy to see that I’m not alone and that I’m not a
    psychopath. <3

  • i don’t want to leave my imaginary world. i feel secured in my head and i don’t see the reason to leave it when i don’t have anything else to do or anyone to really interact with. how does this effect my life. i have always been like this. i think at most i started imagining i was going into series that i watch and i became a character there. it started recently about a year and half ago. i really don’t want to leave my world it feels reassuring to have something like that.

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