For many of us, drugs and alcohol were a means for curing the disease of boredom. Incapable of simply sitting with ourselves, we had to find euphoric activities that filled our time. Perhaps, at first, drugs and alcohol weren’t our entertainment. Instead, they were accessories to having a good time. As our underlying issues grew stronger through our substance abuse, increasingly drugs and alcohol became our entertainment. Needing more substances to fill our every unbearable thought, our time became consumed with finding using, and craving. Then, we get sober.
Thankfully, while we are in the protective housing of treatment facilities, we have a full schedule to dictate our time. From group therapy to physical exercise to twelve step meetings in the evening, there is little time left to be uncomfortable. Even when do have down time, we are surrounded by our peers. With a full supervising staff, we aren’t able to isolate into our rooms and avoid interaction. Graduating treatment and moving into a sober living facility presents a new challenge: boredom.
The Art of Boredom
Boredom is uncomfortable simply because we haven’t experienced it for so long. With all of our thoughts and feeling returned to a normal state, we learn to sit with ourselves. In early recovery, long hours of down time and a lack of scheduled structure can be triggering. Motivation to do much of anything is hard to come by. Making decisions is challenging and energy is low in early recovery months. Simple pleasures require great effort, in small increments. Boredom feels like a detriment, an item to overcome through relapse prevention.
We cannot expect never to come upon boredom in our entire sober lives. Certainly, we cannot fear it. Recovery is about learning how to live, not avoid certain parts of living. Research has actually proven that boredom is an essential part of development. Looking at children’s psychology, boredom is an integral requisite for imagination. Creativity spawns from being bored.
Boredom also inspires the very motivation that is hard to come by in early recovery. Rather than fight against boredom as an aversive experience, we learn to embrace boredom. Developing our senses of self-reliance and creativity, we become more independent by practicing the art of boredom mindfully instead of avoidantly. If we become dependent on being constantly busy for the sake of not being bored we do our futures a disadvantage.
Recovery is an ongoing opportunity to learn more about ourselves, what we want, what we like, and how to handle life on life’s terms.