A recent study at the University of Virginia found that 67% of men and 26% of females would actually shock themselves with electricity rather than be alone with their own thoughts. This avoidance leads me to wonder, what is boredom all about? When I think about our brain's capacity to imagine, fantasize, and create; that there are infinite possibilities in any one moment, it leads me to believe that boredom is a surface emotion. It covers something deeper just underneath its surface.
I have found in my clinical work that there are two ways the majority of people deal with the concept of boredom. There are those of us who are never bored because we are highly skilled at always being busy. Then, there are those of us who fall into boredom quite a bit and get stuck there. For both types of people, it’s imperative to look at what boredom means to us.
For the former, being alone with our thoughts can feel unproductive, anxiety-producing and even harmful; we are the doer type who feel alive and accomplished through tasks and performance. If we aren’t doing something then who are we and what is our value? There tends to be a pushing away of, a running from stillness. My question to this type of us is, what is it about being still that frightens us? What does stillness mean to you as an adult? And what did it mean as a child?
The latter of us, who find ourselves stuck in boredom, the question again is what is the feeling underneath the boredom? Is it depression? Is there a longing? Resistance? Usually, for us, there is a sense of stagnancy, non-creativity energy, a longing for something more but avoiding taking action or not knowing what action to take. Our work is to find out what beliefs are holding us back from living our most powerful life and replacing them with new beliefs about our capabilities and strengths.
It’s important to note that those of us that get stuck in boredom, just like the doers, we are not in stillness either. The stillness or another way to describe it is the state of being is where we all need to go in order to find the answers to our questions, to quell our unrest, and to solve our life’s challenges.
Neither the busy nor the stuck are in this state of being. We are both trapped in different forms of doing. The former is the active doer and the latter is the passive doer. When we learn how to be still, to clear our minds of the thoughts of the past and future, to be in the now, we have unlocked stillness and the infinite possibilities that await us there.
It is in this state of being that we find peace, wisdom, and indescribable healing. We mistake this stillness with being alone with our thoughts, and I agree that being left to the trappings of an undisciplined mind is frightening. But it is the practice of taming the mind where going within becomes anything but frightening; it becomes freedom.
For more tips on improving your self-identity and shifting your mindset, follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to my newsletter for my latest blog posts.