I’m mulling over some ongoing patterns in my thinking and behaviour around life and big life changes.
I have a terrible habit of romanticizing a place both before living there (so when making the decision to move there) and after living there (so when preparing to pack up and leave for a different location). This leaves a huge chunk of time in the middle where I’m living in said location (and thus able to experience all those grand things I dreamed of when making the decision to move there) and before the wheels of the move away are in motion (the time when I start to longingly think about how much I’ll miss living there – despite in fact still living there!).
So what happens to my thinking in that interim (whether it be months or years)? In a really annoying fashion, I spend that in between time wishing for what I had in the past before I moved (the nostalgia for the old place is strong in me) and looking towards the future new place, wishing I was there already and not in the place I currently live.
It’s crazy and illogical, it is also a symptom of a greater problem. A symptom of not ever being satisfied with the when and where of now.
I feel like I mustn’t be alone in this. Many like me will regularly lose themselves in fictional worlds, via: books, video games, movies and t.v (and any combination of) to forget their current real life situation. At times we do this on a ‘bad day’ where we’ve had a rough day at work, fought with our spouse or broken our current eating plan and just feel ick. Largely though, we do this just as a matter of course regardless of the circumstances of our day. No matter how positive many attributes of our real life are, still we constantly ‘escape’.
I thought the root of my problem lie in the fictional worlds I lost myself in and so over the years I made the decision to drop the sources of these ‘worlds’, one by one. First I stopped consuming video games followed by movies (replacing them largely with marathon sessions of t.v shows). A big leap came when after putting up a fight for many years I eventually had to give up t.v (if you knew me back then, I was one of those annoying people who’s passion in life was certain types of television shows that I found thought provoking and immersive and could talk about for hours on end (debating the motivations of a character in a way that suggested this somehow actually impacted my real life – it was a struggle to give up t.v, the character within were my life for a very long time). Lastly came my beloved books, I still read an awful lot but to a certain extent I have tried to move away from fantastical worlds and to try and keep my reading grounded in reality. I still read a lot of fiction but I have to be careful and selective when choosing. In the past year I’ve begun reading more non-fiction than fiction in an attempt to ground myself in reality. All these fictional worlds were definitely contributing to my dissociation from reality but unfortunately even Youtube and other social media is a slippery slope for hiding from reality and losing yourself in someone else‘s world.
Starting to make my own Youtube videos has been a way of me trying to turn that around too. Understanding what goes into the creation of a video on Youtube helps put what we ‘see’ of others lives into perspective.
After all these ‘purges’ I made of mediums in which to escape reality, what I was left with was a worrisome truth about myself. Even without external fantasy worlds to escape into I still find myself lost in dream worlds and fantasy at every moment of the day. I’ve come to realise that a rich dream world and constantly evolving fantasy rolling around in my head are just my natural state, even when I’m all alone in the bathtub with no books and just my own thoughts bouncing around in my head…
When am I ever just present? When am I ever just plain me? Why can’t my mind be still and just ‘be’ where it is right now?
I’ve in the past few years taken an interest in the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). I began with doing the test on 16personalities.com in 2015 and we had some fun exploring it for a few months. After those few months that area of thought sat by the wayside for a few years. In our household we’d bring up ‘our types’ in general conversation over the years, but it wasn’t until I found a large community of people talking about the MBTI and personality types on Youtube that I started delving into it again.
Earlier in my exploration websites like 16personalities tended to simplify the overall personality type and the attributes associated with it. In some ways I worried that it was a bit like a daily horoscope where they are vague enough statements that any human on the planet could apply them to their own life (or personality). It was more of a fun talking exercise with others but I don’t feel like it helped me grow as a person or in my relationships. When I began learning about the different cognitive functions associated with each Personality type things began clicking into place a lot more.
I understand why I, as an INFP (also known as ‘The Dreamer’) am prone to romanticizing the past and living permanently in a Dream world inside my head. However, figuring out how to make positive and intentional changes to the way I think and relate to others and my external world despite knowing ‘the why’ is proving difficult.
I don’t think losing yourself into fantasy worlds is solely an INFP thing, I think most people in our modern world are tempted down those paths of losing themselves in fiction rather than dealing with the hard truths of real life. I do think I am particularly susceptible to being in a fictional world 24/7 though. It makes me sensitive to other people’s addictions and struggles with external stimulus. I get it, oh boy do I get it!
The crazy thing is that I know I have a great life and how lucky I am, yet still I lose myself in the what if’s and the what could never be’s constantly.
I guess knowing your behaviour is annoying to yourself and others is a good first step and gathering data and practical tools is a good second step. I spent 2017 reading SO MANY self-help books and attempting to implement the ideas that ‘felt right’ to me.
As we prepare for our 3rd act of our adult lives I’m convinced I’ve begun my midlife crisis. It may be a little early at 34 but our eldest is 17 and we’re looking towards semi-retirement. We were always in such a hurry, watching and living our lives in double speed. Where to now? How do you mind-fully slow down and enjoy the day-to-day without constantly looking to ‘what’s next’ and mourning for the past that’s already gone (and that you were too busy to enjoy at the time!).
London was a bustling, fast past lifestyle packed full of activities and events. It has trained us into a lifestyle of go-go-go, but we’ve opted out of living that way for our health (especially for our lungs, eek!) and for the future we foresee. We want to slow down but there are so many days when I dream of walking through a crowded London tube station, navigating the fastest path to the exit with ‘excuse me’s’, clever short cuts and a bold willingness to walk up the left side of the steep escalator (whilst most people stand patiently on the right as the escalator carries them to the top) despite the sweltering summer heat and that you’ll be covered in sweat by the time you reach the top (oh how thrilling!).
London, I miss you…but at the end there I wanted out so badly it hurt.
If you’d like to join me in my slightly obsessive study of MBTI and cognitive functions then here are some good places to start:
To test for your Personality Type (don’t be tied to this result, many get the wrong result on these tests…but it’s a good starting point):
Once you have an idea of what personality type you may be then check out the Cognitive Functions – or just check out the Cognitive Functions for fun if you like:
Some non-test related ways to mull over personality types:
To connect with other Typology junkies here’s a Forum:
Some Typology Related Youtubers to Check Out:
Questions for you:
So, do you yourself struggle with escaping into fictional worlds instead of enjoying and working on your real life? Does this bother you or do you think you’ve struck a comfortable balance in your life?
Do you know your personality type and has having an insight into your cognitive functions motivated you to make changes (or would you like it to?)?
I’d love to chat about it if it’s something any one else reading my blog is interested in 🙂