H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. It is most likely one of the first acronyms you will hear in many recovery programs. These are emotions you want to be able to identify and express by reaching out to others in recovery before they trigger you back into your addiction. More than ever, I see this pattern of boredom among the clients we work with. So I encourage my clients, “Don’t B.H.A.L.T.!”
But what really is boredom? In a culture that is so busy, stimulated, and educated with things to do, places to go and many people having the time and money to do them, why would boredom ever become an issue? There are so many things to distract and entertain us, so how can boredom be so present and such an issue?
Boredom is defined as the state of being bored. You will find these boring definitions as well: repetitive, tedious, and redundant.
I want you to think outside the box. I think boredom is so much more. I think it is trying to tell us something. I think it is a gateway, a door, a window, or an opportunity to something far bigger than ourselves.
With all of today’s technology, the unlimited information we have access to, and the speed we can obtain this information, it is only becoming more overwhelming. We can be connected to the internet every waking hour by a cell phone, computer, TV, or automobile through social media, news, email, text, and even a telephone call (if anyone uses a cell phone like that anymore). You get the picture. We never get a break from it. Our brains are constantly being stimulated. What you fill your mind, body, heart, spirit, and soul with is what you will crave. Busy is about numbing and avoiding.
In my opinion this is all a distraction. You might ask, “A distraction from what?” I believe it is all a distraction from connecting with the spiritual. Not only are we distracted by technology we can be distracted by work, family, parental responsibilities, projects, hobbies, appointments, daily to-do’s, deadlines, tragedies in our life, our emotions, community events, or special interests. It all keeps us distracted from connecting to the spiritual. If all these things can keep you stimulated and distracted, you will never be able to slow down enough to connect.
As I have questioned my readers before, do you believe you are a human being having a spiritual experience in this life or a spiritual being having a human experience? In recovery, you begin to understand that you are the former. What if boredom is the doorway into the spiritual? Being quiet and still scares most of us, because our behavior shows we will do anything and everything before we take time to just be. We make every excuse to avoid slowing down. We fill every waking hour with doing, as we have no space in our schedules to just be. Why do we do this? Why don’t we resist and fight against boredom? What would happen if we looked at boredom like this instead?
- Boredom forces you to face yourself. I have observed that boredom forces me to face that guy in the mirror. It forces me to think about my life choices. I can quickly look at the future which causes anxiety I then look at the past and am reminded of my mistakes and am flooded with guilt and shame. This experience creates pain.
- Boredom is the end of over stimulation and distraction. This can be painful. Slowing down is much like an addict not wanting to stop using cocaine or meth. Withdrawal is painful, and most will do anything and everything to avoid pain. The best way to avoid the pain boredom invites is by creating a distraction by doing or being stimulated by any of the above means mentioned.
It is very difficult for me to stay in the present moment and just feel, experience the joy of the present beauty around me with family, and be thankful for all that I have been given. It is difficult to have a heart of gratitude and stay there – even just for a moment – but oh how powerful and refreshing it is when you are able to successfully do so. These experienced moments can create a desire to experience them more often. It is in the present moment that we truly can connect with the spiritual.
- Boredom is a call to connect with other spiritual beings around you. It is an opportunity to connect with people. Personally, I find it very challenging not to be pulled into the future along the anxiety it brings and the need to do something to fix it. It is just as challenging to fight off the past along with the shame and guilt of could have, should have or would have. Being fully present in the moment with the person right in front of you without any distraction from anything else takes practice and intentionality. This is a weak muscle we do not exercise very often.
- Boredom can be used to our advantage to reconnect with God. Boredom is a God-given space to meet with Him. It is something that should be embraced, not fought against with all our being. It is well known that spirituality is the first thing we lose and the last thing to return once in recovery. Overcoming boredom by connecting to the spiritual does not have to be painful. It is a gift all too often left unopened.
One of the best recovery books you can buy is a book with nothing in it. Journals are one of the best ways to discover yourself, God and spirituality. Consider using boredom to your advantage in your recovery by taking time to journal about the following:
- Your daily activities
- Your goals for the future
- Your ideas
- Your night time dreams
- Your positive and negative feelings
- Your prayers
- Your thoughts
- Life changing quotes
Finally, journaling is not just a monologue but a dialogue. Journal what God is speaking to you – His thoughts and feelings about you as well as His plans and dreams for you.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.