To Be Bored, or Not to be Bored?

Helping our children recognize and understand their feelings is a full time job. When boredom strikes it’s no different. A common response to hearing, “Mom! I’m bored!” might be to offer solutions to the boredom, or list out a bunch of ideas that might cure your child of this boredom. In the least, these ideas might get your kid out of your hair for a few more minutes while you finish some work.

Boredom may not seem like an emotion on the surface, but however you perceive it, the truth is – boredom is an emotion. Brene Brown describes boredom as, “the uncomfortable state of wanting to engage in satisfying activity, but being unable to do it”. Boredom is the feeling we get when we’re searching for those feel good feelings. Feeling bored may also be signal that we aren’t feeling fulfilled. Sometimes things we do, over and over, every day, become boring because they don’t challenge us or inspire us. Boredom doesn’t have to be all negative. Sometimes boredom can lead us to being creative and as Brene Brown says, “being bored gives our imagination room to play and grow”.

Sometimes being bored might be our emotional response to not feeling connected. We may not feel connected to what activity we’re doing, or not feel connected to the people around us. When we reconnect with ourselves, with the people around us, or with our environment, we may begin to feel secure enough to explore. Having initiative is an expression of agency (which is feeling in control of ourselves or having autonomy). Dr. Bavolek, the developer of “Nurturing Parenting”, describes this as “Personal Power”. He explains that personal power is having the emotional strength and drive to accomplish things. Personal power is what gives a person the strength to be creative, to take action, and to create change (in themselves and others).

What does personal power have to do with boredom? When we experience boredom and have a strong sense of personal power, we have the ability to take initiative and explore the world around us. Our boredom can then be seen as opportunity, and gives us a push to be creative. However, when we experience boredom and feel powerless, or lack personal power, we may feel defeated and become irritable and frustrated. 0–

When our child is bored we can help them understand what is going on. Being present for our child, helping them acknowledge their feelings, and guiding them to knowing what they need can create a lot of security for them. This sense of security, or safety, will help them develop their personal power. What might be five or ten minutes of sitting with your child, is actually fostering a skill that your child will use to develop their confidence in their ability to meet their needs and be creative in their own world. Your connection with your child is the first step in overcoming that feeling of boredom.

How do we develop a sense of personal power for ourselves? Adults struggling with self confidence, self worth, and self esteem may find it also difficult to be creative and have motivation to try new things. Understanding your thoughts and feelings is important to increasing your self worth. Setting boundaries and honoring your needs is also important to the foundation of personal power. It isn’t just about believing you have the ability to meet your needs, it’s about experiencing those needs met. Often times we expect others to do that for us (maybe we didn’t have a secure attachment with our primary caregiver, like what was described above). Regardless, as adults, we are responsible for meeting this need, and taking accountability for our own thoughts and feelings. This can be difficult, but it also incredibly empowering .

What areas of your life do you find you need to honor your needs? What areas can you establish firmer boundaries in order to meet those needs? What difference do you think it might make in your life if you prioritized your needs first?

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