by Sydnor Sikes, Ph.D.
Boredom (beyond childhood) often reflects some kind of disconnect from one’s life force. When one’s needs are not met in childhood, one may come to expect disappointment and eventually give up and stop both reaching out to others and even paying attention to what one really wants. If we go so far as to disconnect from desire, we stop seeking in the world and experience loses it’s passion. We feel something is missing but aren’t sure what because we have shut down the part that knows what we want, what turns us on, what makes us happy, what sounds fun!
This can happen at different stages of development so looks different for each person. For example, there is a early stage of development in which we learn to reach (physically) for our needs (to be picked up) with our muscles and voices. If this is not supported by parents who want to give us what we need we may have trouble asking for what we need (not taking the time to ask ourselves what we need, knowing but not asking, or grabbling and being too pushy). Even our bodies may not be able to reach out, we can even have flaccid arm muscles that give an experience of futility in reaching, or too much tension and pushiness.
A little later in the developmental stage of autonomy we have real need for adults to support us in our exploration of the world, just giving us the help we need without taking over or intruding. Failure to get support here may lead to a kind of disconnect from our impulse to initiate action, just sitting and waiting for others to initiate or invite. Throughout our development we need the presence of interested, present, safe and attuned adults who respond to what we initiate in a call and response dance that develops our interpersonal brains. We know our true selves by being reflected and mirrored by others. We feel real to ourselves.
Experiences of the true self are never boring! If instead of having this kind of attuned interaction we are forced to only respond to others, adapting to their wants and expectation, we are always looking to the outside rather than to our own experience. It’s much more boring to repeat a pattern over and over than live from moment to moment, with feeling responses to whatever is happening, having your feelings inform our decisions, and then going on to the next thing that happens. Everyone is conditioned to some extent, but living from conditioned habitual responses can make life repetitive and boring.
These kinds of disconnects from the true self are a big part of why people come for therapy. In therapy, they enter a relational field that evokes all the potential for development that we had as children. We recognize unconsciously what the potential is in the very special space created between the client and therapist. Development can be reengaged. The potential for development is not lost, it just needs the right experience and support. The work people do in therapy is as individual as each person’s unique history of relationship and development and trauma. The more we get our minds and bodies working to their full potential, the more interesting life is!