What causes you to be bored?
Boredom –A dead end or a cave of unmined diamonds
Boredom can raise its ugly head when we have little control over our environment and ability to change the situation. During this lockdown, you are likely to be feeling bored more times than ever before. You might be finding it difficult to cope with these feelings, and struggle to find ways to stay motivated and keep yourself going day after day. In this blog, experienced Psychotherapist Ed Murphy will share his insights on boredom and Six ways to help you challenge thoughts and beliefs that can help you break the cycle of boredom.
Why talk about boredom:
Boredom is an interesting yet less written about and acknowledged emotion in psychological literature. During this pandemic boredom has become one of the “elephants in the room” Ground hog doesn’t even capture how bad boredom can be experienced by us on any given day.
The word boredom can evoke many different feelings and thoughts of stagnation, procrastination, aimlessness, deadness, listlessness, and lethargy. These, combined with a lack of will or drive to take action of any kind or, signals the heavy and aimless feeling of being bored.
Our bodies may feel heavy, sluggish. We can find ourselves lacking any sense of creativity or motivation where the energy of possibility and your part in it have been extinguished. It can be common to feel a lack of desire and a sense that nothing can satisfy us or fill the empty void of boredom.
The joy or animation of life seems to have drifted off, and you find yourself in a place that can feel like a large wasteland with little to reap or sow in. That sense of motivation, stimulation, and spark seems as far away as another world.
So what to do? And therein lies the challenge.
How do we recover the sparkle and interest in the present moment when all desire to will yourself have been drained away?
There can be both pride and shame in boredom because there are times when we feel a sense of pride and sophistication in that something bores us. After all, we know it already or know more than that person or thing, and we get bored by it quickly because we believe that the person, situation, or event has nothing to offer us. On the other hand, we can feel ashamed because we think it’s not purposeful or useful to feel bored, leaving us feeling even useless and aimless.
We may have grown up in families where boredom was seen as a “sin” or a seen as a personal fault. All these beliefs colour how we experience and deal with boredom.
But why am I bored?
So what feeds and supports our bored/boring state? Some might argue that a lack of inner resources feeds boredom. Such as being able to explore and challenge our limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world that stagnate our flow and prevents us from keeping an open and creative interest in life -such as our rigid limiting beliefs that hinder our own interest for example: “I can’t go on holiday alone” “there is no point in trying.” “After all, someone else will get the job above me.”
We may have a conflicted or confused value system that can also contribute to boredom, especially if we do not reach our goals. After all, we do not honor our values and deeper needs because we have sabotaged them or written them off too quickly.
Hidden or repressed needs
We may have hidden or repressed needs or desires that are not acknowledged or met because of shame, pride, or fear of failing or succeeding, leaving us feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and feeling “what’s the point in trying anyway”. There is no value in making any attempt or risk because we have figured it out anyway or do not see our own potential, which mitigates any seed of motivation we may have and dampens our desires, ultimately making us feel bored.
There is also the possibility that when we are bored, we find it hard to attend to what is happening in the present moment. Therefore, find our minds jumping from one thing to the next, feeling that our environment is not stimulating us enough, which is causing our boredom. This can leave us scrambling for something to fill the void.
Boredom can also raise its ugly head when we have little control over our environment and ability to change the situation, for example, waiting in ques or waiting rooms:
“And my mother taught me as a boy, to confess you’re bored means you have no Inner Resources. I conclude now that I have no Inner Resources because I am heavy bored”
How can we address our own boredom?
Over the years, I have found through personal experience and professional practice that we don’t need to be motivated to activate. Often, feelings of motivation follow as we build momentum slowly. Taking the path of least resistance can often help us build this momentum, which builds that sense of fulfillment, joy, and interest that was so much formerly lacking.
The trick can often be to break the cycle before it starts to consume and define your experience.
Sometimes we sabotage any forward movement because we can neither feel nor believe that it will satisfy or fill the empty void. Challenging these thoughts and beliefs can help us break the cycle of boredom.
- Examine your limiting self-beliefs and self-defeating thoughts, which might contribute to boredom, and talk them through with a therapist or a friend. Make a list of things you find interesting or would like to explore more a “boredom bucket list” and write encouraging or motivational messages beside them, which might be useful when hitting boredom in the future.
- Make a list of triggers that evoke feelings of boredom. Remember that sometimes boredom can mask other feelings like anxiety and depression, which may need to be addressed professionally.
- You may have stopped trying or given up on something’s value because it hasn’t given you instant results, or there is a hidden commitment that prevents you from addressing this obstacle head-on. Commit to something that will keep you busy and interested. Remember you can’t be interested and bored at the same time.
- Take up a new hobby or create something new. Give yourself a real chance and remember mistakes are fundamental to good learning, not a signal to give up.
- Meditate to lower your arousal level, and this will also help you find peace and acceptance in the moment and stop you from resisting what it and going with the flow of your body and the environment.
- Boredom can also signal a lack of meaning or purpose in a given situation or event. It might help you think critically about what gives your life meaning or where you feel most purposeful, passionate, and useful both to yourself and others.
See boredom as an opportunity to re-invent, re-create, take a journey into the unknown with your creative self with determination and fortitude.
Ed Murphy is an accredited Integrative Psychotherapist with the IACP. His background is in the community and voluntary sector where he has managed a variety of community projects for over 20 years. Ed works with individuals, couples and groups. His approach is strength based and person centred using tailored interventions based on individual presentations. He continues to offer appointments through skype.
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