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The Difference between Daydreaming and Imagining

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 14, 2013

Our imagination is a great gift - a connection with our Divine Source - when we use it from an inwardly connected loving Adult to create the life we want.

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein

We are often told that in order to manifest our dreams, we need to be able to imagine them. I have personally found this to be true, and I've also discovered that there is a big difference between imagining and daydreaming.


You are imagining when you are open and allowing creativity from Spirit to flow through you. The state of imagining comes from your soul, your essence – your inner child.

When you are imagining, there is a sense of aliveness and excitement about what you are imagining. You are not thinking about things that cannot be – such as being taller than you are, or a different race than you are, or a different age than you are. Your imagining has some basis in reality – even if it seems far-fetched at the moment. After all, someone imagined flying in planes and computers and cell phones way before anyone thought these things were possible. But being younger than you are is not possible – you are the age you are and you can't go back.

It is your imagination that allows you to move toward manifesting what excites you.

The definitions of imagining and daydreaming can overlap – the distinction really has to do with whether you are imagining from your loving Adult as a form of creativity, or whether you are daydreaming from your ego wounded self as a way to avoid feelings.  


We might be tempted to say that daydreaming is a form of imagination, but often it is from the wounded self, and is an addictive way to avoid feelings. This kind of daydreaming does not lead to creative manifestation. If you are a 50-year-old businessman and you are daydreaming about making a touchdown for a major league team, you are likely using daydreaming to avoid taking responsibility for some painful feelings. Perhaps you've been abandoning yourself and causing your inner child to feel empty and alone inside, but you don't want to know that you are the one causing these feelings. You might then daydream about the winning touchdown as an addictive way of avoiding responsibility for your feelings.

I have worked with numerous clients who used daydreaming as one of their major addictions. For example, Tyrone started to daydream as a child when his parents used to punish him by sending him to his room. He would feel so alone that he learned to use daydreaming as a way to cope with his feelings of abandonment. It worked well for him as a child, but now as an adult, daydreaming is keeping him from being present with himself. Now, he is the one causing his inner child to feel abandoned, by turning to daydreaming rather than attending to his feelings. It gets to be a vicious circle with Tyrone, because the more he daydreams, the more abandoned and empty he feels, and he then turns to more daydreaming to avoid the inner emptiness.

Until Tyrone has the courage to shift his intent from protecting against his feelings to loving himself by learning to take responsibility for his feelings, he will continue to cause his inner emptiness. Daydreaming is also cutting off his imagination, as his daydreams have become scripted. He resorts to three or four daydreams, over and over, rather than connecting with his inner child and his Guidance and moving into creative imagination. This kind of daydreaming is keeping Tyrone stuck in his life.

Our imagination is a great gift – a connection with our Divine Source - when we use it from an inwardly connected loving Adult to create the life we want. 


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