Boredom in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Written by Angela Atkinson

Sometimes in narcissistic abuse recovery, we find ourselves feeling bored when life calms down. See, being with a narcissist means you’re always dealing with drama and stress, which kind of drives your neurotransmitters crazy – as in, the abuse and trauma you suffer at the hands of your abuser literally change the way your brain works.

This, for some survivors of narcissistic abuse, leads to a bit of a dopamine deficit, which can lead to depression. Depression can often leave you feeling lifeless – and after all the ups and downs of the toxic relationship you’ve been living in, the lack of drama can literally become…sort of lackluster…leaving you feeling plain old bored. Does any of that sound familiar to you? If so, you might be interested in taking this online depression test (it’s free).

But either way, how exactly do you deal with boredom in narcissistic abuse recovery?

Managing Boredom in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

First of all, let me be clear. If you’re bored and you’re not feeling lifeless and depressed, it’s possible that you need to consider getting back out there and living your life again Maybe you’ve done enough of the healing and, dare I suggest it? Maybe you’re ready to date? If you’re not sure, you can take this quiz to find out.

But, if you’re not quite up to getting back into the dating pool, or if your toxic relationship was not a spouse or partner, there are a lot of things you can do to manage and even eliminate excessive boredom in recovery. Whether you’re occasionally frustrated by standard stuff – such as finding out that your flight is delayed or you’re barely staying awake through each workday, you can retrain your brain to prevent boredom – or, at the least, learn a few coping skills to minimize it.

Are you feeling stuck or trapped?

Sometimes the thing that’s keeping us from living our best life is just that we feel trapped. You may not even know why it is you feel this way, but you know you’re not where you want to be. The key to getting unstuck is to take stock of your life, your wants, your goals, and your values. You can’t find a way out of the trap if you don’t understand what’s holding you back and where you want to go. So, let’s take a look at some ways you can widen your perspective in order to get unstuck. It’s not that difficult once you get started.

What’s your ‘why?’

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Really, ask yourself that question. To figure it out, think about why it is you want to make some change in your life. What is driving you? Then figure out the type of change you may wish to make. What do you want to be, do, have, or achieve? Take time to examine your deepest feelings and fears in order to determine what it is you may desire. What do you really, really want? What is the purpose you want your life to have? Then brainstorm some ways you might attain that purpose in order to begin living differently. Remember, you don’t have to know everything all at once. Taking small steps can make a big difference.

What scares you?

You’ve got to face your fears in narcissistic abuse recovery, and once you do, you can become fearless! And you know what they say – once you’re fearless, you’re also powerful. (I believe that was Mary Shelley in the book Frankenstein who wrote, “I am fearless, therefore powerful,” one of my favorite quotes!).

Understand that there will be fear and uncertainty in this process. That’s probably why you haven’t undertaken it before now. It’s scary to think about moving forward in a new direction. Even though a rut may be uncomfortable, it’s what you know, and it feels safe. You’ll need to acknowledge and face your fears in order to make change.

What can you do differently?

It can help to switch things up! Ask yourself, what can you change right now? Remember, though, baby steps are always an option. Start practicing by doing something small to switch things up on a regular basis, maybe even every day. Drive a new way home from work. Sign up for a class that interests you. Talk to someone you see on a regular basis but have never approached before. You’ll soon see that stepping outside your routine doesn’t have to be so scary.

Are you listening to your gut?

Your intuition is your friend, and during narcissistic abuse, you may have learned to stop listening to it. You’ll need to really get to know yourself again if you want to leave your comfort zone. Typically, doing so involves making waves among the people you know. When you make big changes in your own life, those things tend to affect the people who are close to you. They may not always be supportive. Therefore, it’s important that you listen to your instincts and know yourself well when you set out to leave your rut behind. Doing so will help you to prepare for any resistance you encounter from others and from yourself.

What are your triggers?

You’ve got to identify your triggers here. I’m talking about your boredom triggers, in this case. So, what triggers you to get bored? Jobs that are too hard or too easy can bore you because your mind starts to wander. You have difficulty concentrating and you want to do something else. Once you know what sets you off, you can create solutions like playing music while you vacuum the stairs or rewarding yourself with a frozen yogurt after you complete your expense reports.

What’s your body telling you?

Body language is more powerful than you might think. They say you can change your feelings by changing the way you hold your body. It’s true, in my experience. So give it a shot! Look in a mirror. Are you slouching? Are you frowning? You know what to do. Smiling and sitting up straight will liven you up instantly.

What can you stop doing?

Prioritize and delegate your responsibilities where possible. Stop doing stuff that doesn’t interest you for a couple of (planned) days. Take a weekend and rest – or do something crazy and fun. And hey – maybe you can eliminate some of the chores that make you yawn. See how much your dry cleaner charges for hemming pants or other simple tailoring. Order groceries online instead of spending your weekends in overcrowded supermarkets.

What is your personality type?

Understanding your personality can help you to remain safe and happy while you seek excitement. Here’s something fun to do! Take the Myers-Briggs Test and see what your personality type happens to be – you can do so for free at this website. (Note: this is not a sponsored link – I just really like that website and recommend it to my clients often. It has been highly accurate for pretty much everyone I know who has tried it!)

What’s happening in your head?

Mindfulness is a powerful tool. It’s sort of like intentional vibration management, and it can really help you to build up your self-awareness. Practice monitoring your feelings and describing them. It’s the first step to accepting them. Let go of expectations. Appreciate the present moment without rehashing your last conflict at the office or anticipating how slow rush hour traffic will be. These are behaviors you may have sort of forgotten during your narcissistic abuse due to your sole focus being on pleasing the narcissist for so long. You kind of lost yourself, right? Mindfulness can be one powerful tool in your healing.

What do you enjoy doing?

One of the most difficult parts about feeling bored is that often, the stuff that bores you is also the stuff you have to do every day. If you want to improve your focus, you need to strengthen your ability to concentrate. You can start to do that by finding ways to enjoy yourself more often. So, to start, you can look around and find activities that give you a flow experience where time just sort of flies by. Schedule it if you have to! And then get a little timer (or ask your Alexa to time you) and tackle the most tedious jobs against the clock. Make a game of it. It really does make the boring stuff less boring – sometimes, anyway.

What should you slow down on doing?

Going out with friends, dancing, and partying can be a fun way to feel less bored, But it is also a fun way to find yourself looking down the barrel of a massive and dangerous addiction. One of the most common reasons survivors of narcissistic abuse find themselves dealing with addiction is that after the end of their toxic relationships is boredom and/or a need to numb out from the pain of the grief they won’t allow themselves to feel. And, speaking of grief…

Have you mourned the relationship? 

See, even though narcissistic abuse is horrible and traumatic, you still need to grieve the relationship, despite what most people think. You still spent a good portion of your life with this person as part of your normal. That is not something you can just “get over,” regardless of how toxic it was. You have to mourn the relationship you thought you were getting into – the person you thought you were signing up for – if you’re ever going to heal. But you don’t want to find yourself in the grip of addiction before you do – so be careful and remember that the downside of sensation seeking is that you may put yourself at risk for overeating, drinking too much, drug abuse, gambling, or other excesses. Think before you surrender to impulses so you’ll make constructive choices. Or at the very least, be intentional about how often you’re “numbing out.”

Most of all, just take some action. Each step will become easier as you go and will build upon the last. Keep going. Follow your plan, and you’ll figure out the details as you go along.

Where can you find support?

Don’t try to do it all alone. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends you can trust. And join a support group if you need someone who gets where you’ve been. Here are some resources to help you find support in your own narcissistic abuse recovery.

What matters to you?

What’s your purpose? Engaging in meaningful activities fights fatigue and increases your satisfaction with life. Ask yourself how your profession or your hobbies contribute to your health and wellbeing. Maybe you could use a little focus on finding or indulging your passion? (Here’s my free “Passion Planner” to help you out a little!)

How much screen time are you allowing yourself?

Limiting screen time can be a huge help when it comes to overcoming boredom. It won’t hurt you to step away from the screens for an hour or two a day, at least. Some experts speculate that hours of scrolling Instagram and Netflix binges may interfere with our ability to entertain ourselves. Take a break from the computer each day to play the piano or bake a cake. Or go outside and breathe a little, you know.

How stressed are you?

If you’re feeling overly stressed, you might need to loosen up a little. By definition, boredom is a state of arousal. If you can feel at home with a little downtime, those intervals cease to be boring. Read a good book that’ll help you in your narcissistic abuse recovery – here are our favorites. And start rethinking stuff that used to annoy you – maybe a shift in perspective is all you need. For example, you could think of a long commute or an evening without a date as an opportunity to relax and do something creative instead of feeling trapped.

Related Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

 

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