What is reality shifting and is it real?

Mirror in an empty space
Reality shifting has become a new phenomenon amongst the TikTok community, but is it really possible or just another pseudoscientific belief being spread around the world.

The idea behind reality shifting is no different than what physicists have talked about in the past. We live in a multiverse made up of infinite realities and within each of these realities lies a different version of yourself. These infinite realities mean that there will be a reality in which your favourite fictional universe is actually real.

Reality shifting allows you to access these versions of yourself while you sleep. You could shift into a reality where you are a Jedi, an elf in Middle Earth or more famously, a student at Hogwarts.

On top of this, shifting allows you to control exactly what happens in those realities. This is referred to as “scripting” in the shifting community. Before you prepare to shift during sleep, you can write out your character attributes as well as your background in your target reality. For example, you could script yourself as a Hogwarts student in a reality where Harry Potter is a villain and then you can shift into this reality when you fall sleep.

Is reality shifting the same as lucid dreaming?

Shifters believe that lucid dreaming is a completely different thing. When shifting, you are visiting a different reality than the one in which you normally exist. Your actions can have significant consequences in the reality that you inhabit. On the other hand, whilst lucid dreaming, you are still in your own reality and are simply imagining different realities through your dreams.

Let’s get back to reality for a minute:

These ‘shifters’ are likely just experiencing lucid dreaming. In fact, the experiences they claim to have whilst ‘shifting’ are very similar to that of lucid dreaming. Many of the TikTok influencers claiming to visit other realities are taking simple lucid dreaming and marketing it as something completely different. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this happen on social media and probably won’t be the last.

Transliminality and it’s link to reality shifting

Transliminality is a psychological trait in which sufferers are sensitive to psychological material, in particular ideation, imagery, affect, and perception. It is linked with increased likelihood of belief in paranormal phenomena, creativity, mystical experience, manic episodes, and positive attitudes to dream analysis.

This phenomenon is a likely explanation as to the type of people who succumb to these ideas which are not rooted in reality. Unfortunately, platforms like TikTok have gained enough engaged users to allow these ideas to spread to people who may suffer from transliminality. Reality shifting is just the latest in a list of these ideas that have gained popularity through social media:

  • Crystals: On Instagram, hashtags for #crystals and #healingcrystals tick into the tens of millions. In 2017, the New York Times heralded “the great crystal boom” and in 2018 Hello! described them as the year’s biggest health and wellness trend.
  • Alexandria’s genesis: An online myth claiming that a genetic mutation turns some people into “perfect” human beings who can live until the age of 150.
  • Aromatherapy and essential oils: Well crafted marketing campaigns have made the essential oil markets grow at an annual rate of 10%, and is now a $2bn market in the US alone even though scientific evidence has proven essential oil to be more harmful to your body.

The nature of social media means that these ideas are able to travel freely across the world. There are always influencers and marketers who are willing to exploit any pseudoscientific belief to gain popularity. Though shifting has not reached this level yet, it’s only a matter to time before some morally flexible influencer decides to use their followers for profit.

We can in fact already see the formation of an exploitative system. Most members of these communities have not yet been successful in shifting. The vast majority of comments are from users who express frustration over not being able to shift. At the same time, a handful of influencers assure them its right around the corner. In the absence of actual personal shifting experiences, users turn to these influencers who are happy to share their own. This system introduces an obvious financial incentive for influencers to exaggerate and attract more engagement from users who continue to believe these falsehoods. 


Reality shifting discussions have always existed on the internet across different social media platforms. On reddit, a few subreddits have exist to discuss the trend, namely r/NevilleGoddard, r/shiftingrealities and r/DimensionalJumping. However, these subreddits only started growing exponentially after reality shifting videos went viral on TikTok. In particular, the r/shiftingrealities subreddit was created almost immediately after a viral TikTok was released about a user who shifted into the Harry Potter universe. 

# Posts per day on r/shiftingrealities

Graph showing the growth in number of posts for r/shiftingrealities on reddit to show popularity of reality shifting

We can see the various spikes in activity in the r/shiftingrealities subreddit around the same time that viral posts were made on TikTok. In particular, the first week of January and the first week of March saw some of the most active days. Around the same time, we saw viral TikTok posts discussing reality shifting experiences. 


In today’s world surrounded by a pandemic and the difficulties that come with it, an escape from reality can be appealing. However, reality shifting is taking this need for escapism to a new level. It’s clear that reality shifting is not possible, and influencers are simply using the backdrop of lucid dreaming (a scientifically supported phenomenon) to sell a fake idea and grow their user base. 


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