• David Unger, PhD

Boredom



Some people rarely get bored and others do way more often. I suppose we all have our own definition of what it means to be bored, but I would imagine the common denominator is things are dull and uninteresting. We don’t feel engaged or interested. Sometimes we feel trapped. We can be with someone or doing something that we don’t really think we can get out of and we need to endure it till we are freed. Sometimes this is a trap of our own making and sustaining, other times we are at work, or with relatives or just plain stuck in the middle of something with no immediate escape.


In those “trapped” situations you need to learn patience and the ability put a somewhat interested look on your face. You may also want to pick up some pointers on how to extricate yourself sooner as opposed to later. Often people put up with someone else’s rambling or repetitive talking longer than they would like because they don’t want to say something to upset or hurt the other person’s feelings. Better you be upset and have your feelings hurt than do that to them. That belief system usually holds up until you get fed up and end up saying something in such a way as to hurt and upset the other person. Building resentment to a breaking point does not pave the way to gracefully removing yourself from a situation.


When you are disinterested and don’t think there is any more to gain from the conversation, consider saying something akin to: “I want to hear what you are saying and I want you to know I have to leave in a couple of minutes.” Don’t lie. Don’t say what you have to do that could possibly be more important than listening to them. Just assert your needs in a respectful manner and then listen attentively for another two minutes. If there is nothing new and groundbreaking that would necessitate your continuing to stay, look at them and tell them you have to go now or otherwise verbally indicate to them that you have to go. Start to actually physical move in the direction of leaving. When they continue, listen for another 30 seconds or so and then put a “I’m sorry I have to leave in the middle of this” look on your face and go.


Of course there are exceptions to this. Of course they may be mad at you. And of course, you may need to have a follow up conversation with them where they tell you how upset they were at your leaving. Heck, you probably would feel the same if they did that to you. So, let them express themselves to you, listen respectfully, be empathetic and let them know you are happy to talk about how to end a conversation when you are done with the conversation and they are not and when they are done and you are not. Discussing that together and understanding each other’s point of view allows you to build a framework for how best to interact with each other. The norms, guidelines, rules of the road and values that shape how you interact are continually evolving and necessitate your sitting down and talking things over now and then.


Sometimes when someone talks, especially if you think they are carrying on, you can get bored. I was taught, however, that if I was bored I was being boring. I didn’t like hearing that as it meant I needed to take ownership and responsibility for when I was bored. I couldn’t just blame it on the other person. If I find myself drifting off and not really focused on what the other person is saying, I have learned that there are plenty of things I could say that would take away my boredom.


Saying out loud “I am bored” immediately takes away my boredom and gets me nervous about how they will react. So I usually don’t blurt out I am bored anymore. Instead I try to think of something to say about what they are talking about that might be more interesting to me. Sometimes thinking about what that interesting thing might be gets me to drift off and be entertained with my own thoughts. If I don’t caught with my mind elsewhere I can dwell there and avoid the boredom. However, it is better for me if I can either find some aspect of what they are talking about that might engage me or say to them some version of: “I want to be involved in what you are talking about yet I am getting ready to move on to another subject.” That is a risky thing to say as it might hurt their feelings and upset them and the level of concern you have about their reaction will, once again, ameliorate your boredom and you will suddenly be more engaged.


While overtly expressing your desire to move things along is risky and therefore possibly elusive for you, it does provide an avenue as does just trying to find a thread of the subject at hand and trying to pull it. While you may feel trapped in a conversation and bored from time to time, there is also another kind of boredom. This involves you being alone and trying to figure out what to do with yourself. This can occur when you are watching the multiple avenues for entertainment and are not feeling entertained or it can occur when you are sitting quietly and have no energy to do anything. Inertia has settled in and like that bump on the log you are hard pressed to be anything other than that bump on the log.


I am believer in moderation in many areas of life and that would include boredom. I think a little boredom now and then won’t hurt you. It tends to be just unpleasant enough that you can sustain it for prolonged amounts of time while at the same time wishing it would go away. Dwelling in boredom while allowing you to appreciate those times you are not bored, is not usually not a positive thing if it extends overnight. Needless to say, you’re the one being boring and if something is going to be done about it you are the most likely candidate.


Usually action begets action so you don’t need a grand plan to release the boredom. Often standing up gets the ball rolling. Moving does also help as it requires you to pay some attention to the things around you which can often provide a catalyst for your thinking of something to do that is better than sitting around in your boredom.


I wrote in my blog about fear that often what lies between you and what you want in life is fear. If you are bored with your life perhaps you are not facing your fears in an effective enough manner. If you can’t generate enough enthusiasm about interacting with the world it is time to call a therapist and see if they can’t help you revive your spirit.

#Fear #Boredom #Interacting #Relationship #BoringBuzzer

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