The temporarily expanding boundaries of the self (TEBOTS) model identifies challenges faced by the self as a fundamental impetus for engagement with mediated narratives. To test how everyday pressures on the self influence enjoyment, appreciation, and immersion into narrative worlds, this study used self‐affirmation to alleviate the everyday demands of self‐concept maintenance, in an experimental design. When self‐affirmed, people experienced less narrative engagement, consistent with the TEBOTS argument that the demands of self‐concept maintenance motivate narrative engagement. Additionally, the study developed a boundary expansion scale that measured the processes described by TEBOTS. Finally, search for meaning in life was found to moderate effects, and the new boundary expansion measure mediated effects when search for meaning in life was high.