For some people, living inside one’s head, lost inside of our thoughts can be an ongoing distraction that wreaks havoc on our life. Most people that spend an extensive amount of time daydreaming and fantasizing often pay little attention to the world outside of their head. Unfortunately, most people that live inside of their head do not even realize how often they engage in “mind journeys” until it is brought to their attention. Typically, when we are young and we become lost in our thoughts we are labeled as daydreamers or some other word that suggest a conscious choice to emotionally remove ourselves from the outside world. However, for many of us that live most of our lives in our head we do not choose to become internally preoccupied. Rather, escaping internally has become a coping mechanism to address things, events, or people we find unpleasant or distressing. It is not uncommon for people that live inside their head to feel cut off from their physical world, watching as it goes on without them without fully engaging with it.
Past trauma and anxiety can serve as positive correlates for individuals struggling with avoidance issues. We all deal with problems and challenges differently, i.e., some of us choosing to confront it head on, some of us reacting impulsively, some blaming others for our problems, others so negatively affected by the challenges that they retreat internally. Feeling socially awkward, shyness, and avoiding things we find to be extremely unpleasant can lead us onto a path of avoidance. By creating and maintaining an internal world we are afforded the opportunity to make adjustments, removing things, and people we deem to be unpleasant. This internal environment allows us to be in constant control of everything and everyone in our world, a control that usually does not extend to our physical environment.
6 Consequences of living inside your head include:
- Losing track of time
- Limiting or preventing your ability to truly connect with someone else
- Internal retreats that can occur at times that you are required to be mentally present
- Building and maintaining romantic relationships can be extremely difficult
- We can give off an air of being self-absorbed or self-involved without regard for others
- Spending a lot of time inside our head can make things and people around us seem unreal
Living inside our head is the equivalent of watching a movie on a large screen. Living inside our head allows us to take on a bystander role. This role allows us to watch others engage and become altered by life experiences and challenges while we never truly engage. By watching rather than engaging we reduce the likelihood of exposure to things we find distressing or unpleasant. We also limit our chances of exposing our vulnerabilities to others, limiting what we assume are our chances of being hurt. In an effort to both interact with others and the world around us you must learn how to become “present”.
6 helpful tips that can increase our likelihood of becoming and remaining present:
- Take a deep clearing breath
- Start to become consciously aware of times, people, and events that lead to internal withdrawal.
- Make notes of how often and how long you tend to fantasize.
- Employ thought stopping or though redirection
- Identify what you are feeling and why you may be feeling this way, i.e., what you are trying to escape
- Identify additional options to deal with what you are trying to escape rather than attempting to avoid them entirely