Being bored – It used to be that when we waited for the bus, we would often just sit there – observing our surroundings, staring off into space a bit, and maybe nodding at passersby. But times have changed.
Instead, we get our phones out and watch a downloaded TV show, play Candy Crush Saga, or scroll through social media as a way of occupying ourselves until the bus arrives. It makes sense in a way. It’s all seemingly right there for us – the world, in our pockets, too tempting to resist. But maybe there is a deeper reason why we do it: to distract ourselves – often with useless, unhelpful material – anything, really, to keep us from sitting with ourselves. While this may feel like a way to protect ourselves from loneliness or anxiety-inducing thoughts, a short examination of this coping strategy shows that it does not benefit us in the long run and in fact, are linked to these very anxious symptoms.
Being bored is crucial to cultivating our innate right to exercise our imagination
Listening to and exploring one’s own inner world is paramount. If we ever choose to create anything of real value, our psyche must have the opportunity to daydream. Our minds need space to sort out this strange thing called life – but any person can tell you how frightening and uncertain a dive into the corners of the mind can be. We’re scared of what we might find, and of the negative self-talk that bullies us into not believing in ourselves. In those ‘not so good’ times in our lives, nothing terrifies us more than being alone with our thoughts, so we fill up the space with something else – anything else.
The art of being bored requires us to be able to sit with ourselves – with all of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, no matter how unsettling this may feel. Since we don’t know what might float through our bored minds, we also have to be ok with – or at least willing to tolerate – a reasonable amount of uncertainty and not-knowing. Sitting quietly with oneself also requires a certain amount of self-acceptance: we have to like ourselves enough to be bored with ourselves in the first place.
For most of us, this is a hard ask. A lot of us have a lot of self-loathing or insecurity. But it gives us something to consider (if only we’d give ourselves the time to do so). The bored mind is the daydreaming mind, and in this way, it is the powerful mind. Unleashing this creative force changes our lives, and manifests as a more positive and meaningful experience of life.
So how does one go about being alone with the self? Well, whatever the answer, it’s not easy, this we know. What any of us can do, at any time, is to start small and practice being bored and your imagination will lead the rest of the way!
– Author: Kristina Dragnea, Registered Psychotherapist, Practice Owner of Mindful Maelstrom Whole Health Collab