Bored and Tempted. Join Josh and Kit as they discuss boredom and temptation, and all of the practical ways we can go to something meaningful in those times.
…why does boredom turn into “I need to be stimulated, distracted, aroused, as opposed to rest or this thing I want to accomplish?”…
…I feel more alive than I have in years because it’s hard…
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We’ve talked about triggers to sexual temptation before, and how most often temptations, not primarily prompted by an outside stimuli, but it’s actually something that’s going on inside a person. And so triggers can be any kind of pain or discomfort that that we think fantasy or porn are going to help with. So longing for comfort released from stress, but sometimes when we introduce this idea, people go, oh, now for me, my main triggers boredom. That’s when I get most tempted. So Josh, how do you respond to that? Yeah, I
mean, I’ve heard that a lot. I’ve heard people say that a lot. And I have to admit, I usually hear it with a bit of suspicion, I because I, I tend to mistrust that boredom is a primary trigger for people, especially when people are thinking like, that’s the primary one. That’s when I’m really tempted. And I think there are two layers to why I’m suspicious of it. The first is that I think in a busy culture, like we live in, where people are moving so fast, we idolize business, we, you know, if we, if we’re active, we’re important. If we’re not, we’re not. I think people get confused about the difference between boredom and unsettledness, or boredom, or uneasiness or boredom, and and disquiet that they’re experiencing. And so, so it can even help just to look at the definitions a little bit. So, boredom is associated with with a weariness, that’s a weariness of inactivity, or it’s maybe sometimes a weariness of an activity that that has been done over and over again. Where unsettledness or disquiet is a kind of anxiety, it’s a kind of worry. It’s a it’s an it’s an uneasy an uneasiness. And so there’s those two and the key key difference there is, is the weariness part. And so I think if somebody is talking about, you know, when I’m bored, I’m triggered. One of things I want to kind of help them dig into is like, well, how long did it take you to get bored? Because if someone’s getting bored pretty quickly, that’s probably a sign. It’s not really boredom, they’re feeling they’re probably feeling unsettled or described with something else. So
being disquieted and feeling uneasy, sort of main experience we’re going to have in this life, yeah. And so that’s interesting, because maybe part of it is how do we get more comfortable with that? We’re not running to something to fix that. How do we actually how do we learn to sit with that?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So yes, I think that the big question is, is like, are you getting weary of the inactivity or whatever the activity is? Quickly? And we could talk about what quickly is but you know, is it is it to to take a couple minutes to take a couple hours to take couple days or weeks before the boredom set in? Yeah, so
so how, how does a person know if they’re really bored? Or if it’s actually unsettledness?
Yeah. So I’ve a couple thoughts about that. I think, I think one is like, what’s your actual situation? I mean, are you are you confined? Like, are you are you sick and in bed and you literally can’t get up and go do something else? that that would seem to be a condition for boredom to creep in. As opposed to no I was at home, I’m perfectly able, I could have done something else. But I just got bored. That That, to me, doesn’t, something doesn’t quite fit there. I think another thing would be honestly asking a person and and maybe this harkens back to what you were saying a minute ago, like, do you spend time in stillness or in solitude or in silence? Ever? Because if you don’t, then that’s probably a sign that you’re, you’re moving away from some unsettledness inside of you. And and more likely to mistake that for boredom. So I mean, a person who can who can sit silently or in solitude, who experiences boredom at some point, like, they’re probably more able to recognize like, this is really because I you know, what I’ve experienced right now, it’s just futile. Yeah. Versus No, there’s something going on in my, in the deep waters in my soul.
So boredom or unsettledness. How would each of those, how would you advise people handle that as if either one is leading to being tempted? How might they look different in terms of trying to think differently or intervene in some way?
Yeah, so let me let me come back to the boredom one later, but I think initially for the For the unsettledness, I think that’s, that brings us back to really diving deeper into the question of triggers. So, like if you’re, again, so we started, you started by saying, Okay, we’ve got these triggers that some type of emotional or physical pain or discomfort, and we’re trying to medicate it or solve it or resolve it through sexually acting out with pornography or fantasy or something else. And the person’s response is no, not for me. Mine is boredom. And I’d say okay, well, if you discover you suspect, actually, maybe this isn’t bored, and maybe this isn’t subtleness then the next question is, what do you unsettled about what’s happening in the deeper places inside of you, that you’re feeling uneasy? Are you feeling disquiet? And And usually, that’ll bring us back to like one of those areas of triggers, or some type of emotion you’re feeling that’s not very comfortable, and you’re not very used to feeling it? And I think that I think the big thing is that, in a culture like ours, like we’re a lot of us aren’t a lot of us are not used to paying attention to and feeling things that we’re feeling because there is so much distraction around us. So,
so is what you’re saying, like, don’t, don’t be fooled by thinking it’s boredom. And really think about what what is this really, and if it’s unsettledness, then really spend some time getting after that in a way that’s, that’s meaningful, and because maybe that that people rush to that it’s bored. That’s not helping them. Right. That’s not that’s not a helpful thing.
Yeah. I mean, I think I mean, I guess, you know, part of this, if now that we’re talking about, I think one of the things that comes up for me is, I think when I’ve heard people talk about boredom, it almost sounds like they’re a victim, you know, like, Oh, well, for me, it’s just boredom. So what can I do? You know, actually, hold on?
Unknown Speaker 6:41
there’s something going like, Why? Why are you feeling bored? And what can you do? And? Yeah, so i think i think that’s like, let’s be suspicious of, of the idea that it’s boredom, especially if it’s, if it’s kicking in, and you actually have options, and actually hasn’t been that long. And, yeah,
so can we talk about like, for unsettledness, you’re saying, you know, let’s really think about learning how to practice stillness, learning how to enter into silence and solitude and also learn how to pay attention to these deeper questions. What’s really going on inside and bring God into it, God, what’s going inside? What’s going on inside of me and get kind of get into a practice with those things to inform that?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think so. I remember when I was, before I started any recovery from from my sexual addiction, I remember times of feeling so antsy, and like, I just didn’t, I couldn’t sit still, I wanted to go do some times with friends or I was like, Guys, we gotta go do something like, let’s just let’s get out and go do something. And I think there, I think that can be a legitimate desire at some point. But looking back, I was able to see actually, some of those times, I was really, I was dealing with an unsettled list inside, I was feeling anxiety about things I was feeling uncomfortable about the week I just had, I was feeling afraid about what was coming up ahead of me. I was feeling insecure in the situation I was sitting in, and I was trying to medicate it with some type of activity.
So that makes me think about a couple of clients that I work with who say, you know, when I am feeling tempted, I go for a run, you know, I do something. So that distracts me is, is, are those options of distracting yourself from it ever helpful? Or is that actually kind of a little bit of a problem? Yeah,
no, I think it can be helpful. I mean, thinking in the moment, if you have the option of I’m going to look at pornography and fantasize and masturbate or something like that, or I’m going to do something healthy, to distract myself, even if it’s to just to deal with this boredom. That’s actually unsettledness. It’s a better alternative. They’re healthy. I mean, you have a lot of options, right. But I think long term, getting after what, what am I experiencing inside? And how can I resolve that? Because part of part of what’s going to happen is that some of the things that get stirred inside are not going to be resolved very quickly. Yeah. So Gosh, this issue of anxiety isn’t really about what happened at work today. I deal with anxiety. I have an anxiety problem. Yeah. And so I need to learn a lot of coping mechanisms for that, not just identifying it, but I’m gonna go for a run. Yeah, we’re gonna call a friend.
Yeah. So it’s, these are things that I can do, and always be aware that there’s probably something else going on.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I looked it up this morning. Actually, Blaise Pascal, his is a famous quote, it says, All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit. I’m sorry, all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
Yeah, it’s a really, really powerful statement. And
we can’t I think I when I think of you, I think you you are a person who is aware of tensions, difficulties, the places the inner waters of your soul. What do you say to you the question you asked about other times where distraction is okay.
Well, I think, you know, I guess it depends on what’s a distraction, you know, is a distraction going to be something that like, I love to watch my birds, I love to sit and be quiet and watch the birds and not think about the problems that are happening in my life. That actually feels therapeutic to me because I’m actually not focusing on some, some, something that’s messing with me, I’m focusing on something that’s actually giving me a sense of peace, a sense of joy. And it gives my mind a rest because I, when I get into centering prayer, sometimes I can go there, and sometimes my mind’s way too busy, and I need to just just just sit quietly and think, watch the birds and have something to distract me. So I think it depends on the kind of distraction if you’re talking about a distraction that’s like, puts me into denial and gives me a habit that’s not good for me, like Netflix binge watching, you know, then that’s going to be a different kind of thing. So and that, that that’s always bad. Sometimes it’s nice to just veg out and watch funny show. But it’s kind of, you know, paying attention to what’s this doing for me, you know, how’s this affecting me?
I mean, other I think maybe one of the maybe part of what you’re saying is, are we exchanging one compulsive way of dealing with this with another compulsive way like, yeah, you know, going from sexual addiction to binging on Netflix, or eating too much food or something like that is you’re just you’re trading, maybe trading up a little bit. But you know, ultimately, you’re not really resolving underlying stuff.
But I do think it’s interesting, because you’re right, I was just, this was just happened to me this morning. I think we do get uncomfortable, we’re not aware of the things that we’re even thinking about ourselves, or God or a situation, we’re just avoiding. And this morning, I was gonna do some centering prayer, and I found myself being like, compulsively like, like, I should do this. Or you know, and then I was just like, you know, what, I’m tired, I’m weary. I don’t want to do this next practice, I just want to sit here. I just want to, I just want to sit here. And I just want to look out the window. And I just want to be and, and I, you know, I did start thinking about some things. And but then it was like, Okay, let me think about those things in a way that’s helpful. Instead of a way of, you know, like, compulsive behavior of any kind. I mean, even even spiritual practices can be compulsive, if they’re not really allowing you to rest. Yeah,
yeah. Okay. So that that brings to mind for me to like, so you’re, you’re the woman you’re walking with who goes for a run? I think that for some people, that actually can be a really helpful place. Yes. Okay, it’s a lot more comfortable, to do something physical, to pay attention to what’s happening inside, as opposed to just sitting still, with, you know, alone in my room, like, with all respect to to Blaise Pascal, I think that, like, those are, those can be steps that are in the right direction, both externally dealing with the moment but also perhaps, like leaving some room with, with maybe a little bit of activity connected to
one client in particular, I can read it, she will say, I can talk to God better when I’m running.
Yeah, I mean, I definitely relate with that. And there’s so for me, like, there’s a difference between exercise of any kind, and running, like running for me is, like, clears my head and does something to some of those deeper waters in my soul, then I go into the gym is not that same kind of experience for me. So put that more than maybe the distraction.
So, um, can we go back to this idea if a person truly is bored? What’s going on?
Yeah, yeah. And so that’s the other layer. So that was the beginning. So there are a couple layers. And this is the other other layer, like, there are reality. I mean, boredom happens, right? futility happens, this is a part of living in a fallen world. And so let’s, let’s say a person is truly bored. They’re, you know, they’re, they have an illness, they’re confined to bed for days at a time, or they’re stuck on the tarmac in a plane for hours on end. And it just gets boring. And so I think they’re there to two things with us like one is, and so then they come back to the question like, why, why pornography then or why temptation in that moment? I think one of the things can be conditioning. And I think we live in a culture we’ve kind of tapped into this already in this conversation. We live in a culture that is conditioned to distract ourselves like we like it’s everywhere. I mean, you know, you’re in the grocery store line. And people have their phones out your
Yeah, you’re on the on the tarmac and you know, nobody nobody’s you know, sitting doing nothing. I mean, there’s a conversation and they’re reading or they’re you know, even what you described min ago, I’m just tired, just want to sit like I mean, that’s countercultural, so we are conditioned with distracting ourselves. So if you’ve responded to boredom to authentic boredom before by turning to fantasy, or porn or or some other type of sexual stimulation, it’s like your brain has learned like, hey, when I feel this way, I know what to do. I know where to go. So some of that may need to be pressed through. It’s the desert of withdrawal, like, Okay, if I don’t want my brain to respond to authentic boredom this way anymore, then they’re gonna have to be times where I’m feeling bored and I don’t go there. I don’t distract with porn or something else. And then another possible I think can be shame. So again, I think that we can even if it’s authentic boredom, why is pornography? Why is it pornography that you’re prone to go to? Why not some other activities mother,
or because all of us all of us get caught up in boredom and kind of wanting to escape or retreat to something that’s may not be the best choice for us? Certainly, Facebook’s not the same as pornography, but it can be for some people. Yeah, it can be the same sort of habit.
Yeah. So so why not something like why aren’t we then going to something that’s more meaningful, more fruitful, more productive for our lives? More, more restful, great quests, like why does Why is boredom turned into I need to be stimulated distracted? Around, as opposed to like, you know what, hey, I’ve got an extra hour I didn’t realize I had what a great opportunity for rest or to catch up on this or to think through this thing. I’ve been wondering. Yes,
yes. So what’s the answer to that? Well, I
mean, I think that’s that’s where I don’t know for sure my seat. But I think that’s some of that has to do ashame has to do with the deep existence of, of shame that is in us that believes that we actually aren’t worthy of those more worthy responses, you know, like, and the best I can do is escape for a little while, like I my life is not meaningful enough. And I’m not meaningful enough. So the best I can do is to tap into somebody else’s meaning, yes, I’m gonna steal meaning from porn, or the storyline in the movie, or, as opposed to, hey, God, I’ve got an extra 15 minutes, and you’re the God of the universe. And so the universe is at your disposal. And I am to, like, what are we going to talk about?
So this is a powerful point, this idea of meaning and purpose. It’s talking to my sister yesterday, she just bought a bookstore. She’s 67 years old. And it’s really hard technology. And she had been working full time, she’d been a writer, so but she said, I feel more alive than I have in years, even though this is hard. And it’s like, it’s because it’s giving her meaning and purpose, people are coming in, and they’re saying, We’re so glad you’re here. We just love how you tie the community together. Yeah, I just love that you can order my the books I love and you can talk to me about books. And so you know it, I think, so how do we more often encourage each other? And talk about, you know, spending time reflecting on Hey, meaning and purpose, and it doesn’t have to be some grandiose thing, it can just be every life has potential meaning and purpose.
How do we tap into and the connection there, if we’re, especially if we’re dealing shame is we also have to have to pay attention to identity because shame is a message about my identity. So if I’m, if I’m pursuing meaning, without addressing the core issues of my identity, then then that those those meanings become like now more workaholic. Now I’m a ministry a Holic? You know, as opposed to Yeah, so so I, again, I’m sure I’m expressing this for a while, but if so, when we’re talking about shame with with authentic boredom, I think that like, the thing we’re trying to pay attention to here is just this idea of, like, do I as I’m in those moments, where there’s nothing going on for me, view myself, and my world is something that is really, really good. And ordered, am I viewing it like, hey, this, and like, I stink? My world stinks, like. And so the best I’m going to do is squeeze a little life out of Netflix, or porn or fantasy or something. As opposed to this, this has meaning because I have meaning because God is a God of meaning. And he is here in this.
So practically, what how does that play out? like someone’s listening? And they’re like, okay, I want that. I want to be clear about who I am. I don’t want to be filled with shame. I don’t want to be doing things. Yeah, just because I’m trying to play like I have meaning or purpose.
Yeah. So can you help me? I don’t I don’t know. Better still, but I do. So here are a couple of thoughts like, but I would like to give Sam, we’ve got a couple minutes left. But I mean, one thing is I think if, again, if you were talking about authentic boredom, or an opportunity that where you might authentically be bored, then think ahead, like what how can you use that time more meaningful to affirm in a way that respects and honors my worth and who I am and who God says I am? So I’m going to be you know, hey, I’m going to be in the airport for three hours on this layover, instead of just getting bored. Like, let me think about what how I want to spend that time. That’s just a practical, you know, trying to think ahead, especially for those who are wrestling with ongoing sexual temptation, like just plan ahead for that kind of stuff. And have a night by myself instead of being bored and or binging on Netflix or porn like what what can I do that what I want to do thing yet, and be creative and for a lot of people if they’ve gotten to the habit of fantasy and pornography, like some of it might be like, look back to what you used to love to do and plan for some of that. I think the other is Pay attention to stuff that we’ve been talking about. And so in times of boredom, even if you didn’t plan ahead, what is being stirred up? And, and, and thinking long term about what do you want to do with that stuff? Like, do you want it to keep, like roiling under the surface there? Or do you want to deal with it? And, and hopefully you want to deal with it. And so that’s a place for dealing with the deeper waters of the soul, getting some Christian therapy, some spiritual coaching or regeneration, some spiritual direction from a trusted pastor, a priest, like go to those places to stop avoiding them, stop, stop buying, the idea that the best you can do is to is to run away to the old temptations. And then the last thing I think that’s related to all of these is, is practice it, practice stillness, and silence and solitude. So don’t just wait for those moments when Oh, my gosh, I’m on board, I didn’t expect to be on board. And this is miserable. But let me practice this now. So that stuff can get stirred up. Because what happens with time, and I’m not an expert at this, but I think I think what happens, what our goal is, is, in those moments of stillness, whether it’s something we’ve chosen, or something that’s been kind of pushed on us, in those moments of stillness or silence or solitude, we we want to find those moments opportunity for a deeper, richer life with ourselves with God with others, as opposed to this is a threat to us in some way. Yeah. That’s, that’s my, my take on that.
I think what you’re describing is has a lot of really important aspects to it. Like, instead of thinking about this as a burden, I got to, you know, figure out my life that think about it as an invitation station. Yeah. You know, like, Hey, I got one life here. Yeah, I got one, and it’s mine. And I get to make choices about it. And so instead of being burdened by it, stressed by it, like, think of the gift of it, like what, what, what do I want to do with my life? What? How can we how God, could God and I talked about that together? What’s the vision of my life? Because I think most of us either are stuck, or we’ll be stuck, or we all get stuck. And because we’re either moving forward or rolling backward, yeah, you know, and so, so just to be like, Okay, I’m not alone in the fact that I’m stuck, or I have been stuck or might get stuck. We all get that way. So how do I keep from getting stuck? How do I make this an invitation? to like, actually embrace my life? I think that’s, I think that can be very exciting. And also have friends or a mentor or spiritual coach or a counselor that you can say, help me with this. I don’t want to like, I don’t want to get down the road. 10 years ago, the last 10 years didn’t mean much. I want to be like, Oh, do this 10th that I could I think I made some good choices.
Yeah. And join the club with that. I mean, yeah,
we’re all there.
Yeah, I mean, I, I don’t run to fantasy and porn anymore. But man, I am so tempted to run the ministry stuff in times where I just need rest, or I need space. Yes, I’m getting spiritual direction now to try to get after what is going on? Why can’t I? Still so
and it’s, it really can be very freeing. I think it’s just we’re afraid of it. I get it. I have been to and I still am. But I think just maybe an encouragement, push, push through the fear. And just see what’s on the other side, just trust God that he’s got more for you.
Yeah. So leave room, when there’s boredom, don’t just try to, you know, push it away. It’s certainly not an excuse to act out sexually. Leave room, see what else comes up. And if you need help identifying what this fanciness is, what else is going on there, then get some help with that. And then when this stuff comes up, that’s an invitation to to go deeper to resolve stuff to become more who you’re meant to be and more connected to God and others. So Jesus, we need your help here. Your You are the one who said to your disciples, come away with me to a quiet place. And Lord, you know, in this day and age, we are not very used to that. So God help us to hear your voice calling us and when you grant us hope and faith, to believe that you’ve actually got something better than boredom, and better than meaningless. meaninglessness in that quiet place with you. And we pray especially for our brothers and sisters who are listening who, for whom sexual temptations an issue and that’s why they started listening. God grant them help in this process. Prayer, all these things in your good name Jesus, amen.
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