Imaginary friends

Canine99

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So...here’s a weird little topic. Imaginary friends! Do you have one? 

But out of curiosity, how do you tell a imaginary friend from a Plural System? 

(Sorry for this strange little topic! I’m just curious.)

 
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Addy-River

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I never had imaginary friends growing up, I had imaginary pets. Granted one of those pets could talk, but still. For me the biggest difference between an imaginary friend and my system members is that my headmates all have their own individual personalities and desires that I know I did not create. Some of them came to me with those personalities and desires. Creating an imaginary friend is a process. The majority of my headmates just showed up one day with those personalities.

You can usually tell if you made something up or not, if you don't know, then he may not be imaginary. Creating an imaginary friend takes conscious effort, especially once you're older. If no conscious effort went into him and he just showed up with that personality, he might not be an imaginary friend.

 

Amber

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I think there's an interesting parallel here to "guides" seen in meditation. They're not soulmates or system members, but independent entities you meet there. My head seems to be full of them. I've met several already and do consider most of them friends. I'm always wondering where they actually come from. The explanation @Addy gave applies here, too: I did not actively imagine them. I can create entities by imagination too, but I would agree that this takes a certain kind of effort, and such imagined entities feel different than the ones who just seem to appear out of nowhere. Sometimes this is also happening very quickly. On one occasion, my mind was drifting away during meditation, then suddently I gained focus again and was faced with a huge monster-thing. Not a friendly one, but I handled. Furthermore, the "non-imagined" entities in my case are not fictional characters. Their behaviour is unpredictable and oftentimes very surprising to me.

So, either our subconscious has an extreme capability to unintentionally "create" complex entities extremely fast or those entities are actually walk-ins. Both options raise new questions. If the first is the case, I wonder why our brain can do that, and why it creates exactly these entities - who are not even always helpful. If the latter is the case, question is: from where do they walk-in? I think the answer to that would fall into the realm of spiritual belief.

 
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Eersian

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A more interesting question is what separates imaginary friends from tulpas?

My OCs were my imaginary friends from my teenage years I'm too my mid twenties

 

Addy-River

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I would say the creation process is what separates them. Imaginary friends tend to be thought up pretty quickly, whereas tulpas require a lot of time and patience to grow into people. Basically if I want an imaginary friend named Bob, I just think up exactly what I want him to look like and be like and I create him. With a tulpa you start with something small and nurture it over time until it grows into something. 

Like the difference between going to the garden center and just buying a plant, as opposed to planting your own seeds and taking care of them as they grow. Imaginary friends tend to happen faster than tulpas. Tulpas take a lot of time and effort, and you have to take care of them from something small until they become their own people. An imaginary friend normally just shows up fully formed and they are exactly what you want them to be. Tulpas can deviate from what you wanted.

Both are created, but I think tulpas take more time and effort than imaginary friends do.