Therapy

The Anxious, College-Educated Millennials

The Anxious, College-Educated Millennials

A quick blog post before I head out and enjoy the beautiful weather...

I've noticed a trend recently. I don't have any evidence besides anecdotal evidence though, so I've been hesitant to share my thoughts. But yesterday was a tipping point.

Anyway to the thesis: 

Millennials are anxious as hell. I know, I know, everyone is anxious as hell. But there is a particular strand of college-educated, millennial anxiety that seems born from our shitty neoliberal, unequal society. 

This anxiety comes from an odd place. It's often about productivity. Productivity is the mandate of capitalism. So many millennials are constantly worried about output in every aspect of their lives. It's as if the model of the factory worker has seeped into every aspect of our lives. And productivity and hard work are the symbols of meritocracy that doesn't really exist.

The lie that these millennials seem to believe more fiercely than older patients is that America is a place of equal opportunity. They believe that everyone is on an equal playing field and that if they work hard enough, their finances and status will improve. That's a lie for a lot of reasons, which I don't want to get into here, but upward mobility has been pretty nonexistence in America for quite a long time. But there is an implicit belief among the younger generation that the more you achieve, the better you are. One's self-worth then is directly tied to what one does and not who one is. 

The Art of Listening: 3 Steps To Becoming A Better Listener

The Art of Listening: 3 Steps To Becoming A Better Listener

How many times when you're speaking to a friend or spouse do you speak over them? I'm guessing you think "not very often." I certainly did, not only among my friends but among my patients.

But recently I did an experiment. In an effort to improve my listening skills in therapy, I started to note all the times I interrupted a patient during a session. Like most people, I thought too highly of myself and my own abilities! Surely I'd find that I rarely interrupted people. I'm a therapist after all. That means I'm a great listener. 

As you can probably guess, I interrupted my patients far more often than I'd like to admit. Some of it was necessary. I can think of a few people who tend to shame themselves often, and the need to interrupt that kind of thinking is often necessary. But often it wasn't. It was hardly malicious. Often I just had a comment on something they said, and I didn't wait till they were done. 

But interrupting was not a good thing. At its best, I was adding to the conversation but stunting a complete thought from my patient. At it's worse I was not letting my patient be heard. This had to change.