What Psychologists Want Young Adults to Know – 08/01/2022 – Review

Satya Doyle Byock, a 39-year-old therapist, has noticed a change in tone in recent years among the young people who come to her practice: frantic and exhausted clients in their late 20s or early 30s, nervous, insecure about them, constantly feeling that there is something wrong with them.

“A paralyzing anguish, the Depressiondistress and disorientation are indeed the norm,” writes Byock in the introduction to his new book, “Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood.”

The book uses instances of Byock’s work to explain the barriers faced by young adults today –approximately between 16 and 36 years old– and how to manage them.

As with middle age, the young adult phase – “a quarter of life” – can include crises: trying to separate from parents or caregivers and forging one’s own identity is a struggle. But the generation now entering adulthood faces new and sometimes debilitating challenges.

Many young people today struggle to pay for their education or decide not to study, and the “existential crisis that occurred after graduation is happening earlier and earlier today”, according to Angela Neal- Barnett, a psychology professor at Kent State University who has studied anxiety in young people.

“We were limited by this myth that you graduate from college and start your own life,” she said. Without the social script that previous generations followed – graduating from college, getting married, and raising a family. Byock said his young clients often remain in a state of prolonged adolescence.

In fact, according to a recent online survey by personal finance platform Credit Karma, almost a third of Generation Z adults live with their parents or other family members and intend to remain so.

Many find themselves so wrapped up in day-to-day monetary concerns, from endless student debt to the skyrocketing costs of everything, that they feel unable to consider what they want for themselves in the long term.

This paralysis is often exacerbated by growing climate anxiety and the prolonged pandemic that has left many young people mourning relatives and friends, or minor losses like conventional college experience or traditions of starting the first job.

Experts say those entering adulthood need clear guidance to get out of the mud. Here are the top tips on how to navigate the current young adult crisis.

do you take yourself seriously

“Take time to be selfish,” said Neal-Barnett, who is also the author of “Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic and Fear.” and overcoming anxiety, panic and fear, in Portuguese).

She recommends setting reminders about every three months to review where you’re at in life and if you’re feeling stuck or dissatisfied. From there, she says, you can begin to identify the aspects of life you want to change.

Byock said to pay attention to what naturally interests you and not dismiss your interests as silly or unnecessary. Maybe it’s a place you’ve always wanted to visit or a language you want to learn. Maybe you want to take up a new hobby or research your family history. “Start giving your inner life the respect it deserves,” she said.

However, there is a difference between self-interest and indulgence, Byock said. Investigate and interview who you are asking for work. “It’s not just about choosing your labels and that’s it.”

Be patient

“Some people are still stuck with the idea that you become an adult at 18 and then you have to be ready to move on,” said Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a researcher at Clark University who studies youth psychology. adults. “I don’t know if it ever made sense, but it certainly doesn’t today.”

Young people in the “living room” can feel the pressure of rushing through life’s stages, Byock said, craving that sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a task. But learning to listen to yourself is a lifelong process.

Instead of looking for quick fixes, she says, young adults should think about longer-term goals: starting therapy that goes beyond a few sessions, adopting healthy eating and exercise habits, working to earn in independence.

“I know that sounds a bit absurdly big,” says the expert. “But it allows us to move around and move on in life, rather than just ‘checking the boxes and getting it right’.”

Ask yourself what is missing

Byock also said to pay attention to everyday life and notice where things are lacking. She divides these young people into two categories: “stability types” and “meaning types”.

“Stability types” are considered by others to be strong and stable. They prioritize a sense of security, professional success and may want to start a family. “But there is a feeling of emptiness and a feeling of pretense,” he said. “They think that can’t be all life is.”

At the other end of the spectrum, there are “meaning types”, which are usually artists; feel intense creative passions, but have difficulty managing day-to-day tasks.

“These are people for whom doing what society expects of you is so overwhelming and so at odds with your own self-esteem that they seem to constantly struggle,” he explained. “They can’t quite understand.”

But early adulthood is all about becoming a whole person, Byock said, and the two groups have to absorb each other’s traits to balance each other out.

Stability types need to think about how to give their lives a sense of passion and purpose. And sense types need to find safety, perhaps by starting a consistent routine that can ground and release creativity.

Or channel Yoda

This process of putting together the pieces of self-understanding may seem pointless in an unstable world, the expert acknowledged, and many young people are devastated by the current situation on the planet.

She taps into an inspiration that is perhaps the prototype of calm in the midst of chaos: Yoda. The Jedi Master is “one of the few images we have of how to feel comfortable in the midst of extreme pain and apocalypse,” Byock said. Even when there seems to be little external stability, she says, young adults can try to create their own stability.

Gregory Scott Brown, psychiatrist and author of “The Self-Healing Mind,” says establishing habits that help you establish yourself as a young adult is key because times of transition make us more vulnerable to exhaustion.

He suggests creating a practical toolkit for self-care, such as regularly taking stock of what makes you grateful, practicing controlled breathing, and maintaining healthy diets and exercise routines. “These are techniques that can help you find clarity,” he said.

Don’t be afraid to make a big change

It’s important to identify the aspects of life that you have the power to change, Brown said. “You can’t change a boring boss,” he said, “but you can plan a career change.”

Easier said than done, the expert agreed, and young adults should weigh the risks of continuing to live in their current circumstances – staying in their hometown or a profession they are not passionate about – with the potential benefits to try something new.

Despite its confusion and restrictions, the “quarter of life” is generally “the freest phase of all life,” Arnett recalled. Young adults may find it easier to move to a new city or start a new job than older adults.

Know when to call your parents – and when to call yourself

The young adult is moving from dependency to independence, Byock said – learning to trust themselves after, for some, growing up in a culture of overly attentive parents and participatory family dynamics.

But even if you still live at home with your parents, Byock said, your relationship with them can evolve in ways that help you gain independence.

Maybe it’s good to talk about family history and past memories, or ask about your parents’ upbringing. “You’re going from a pecking relationship to a friendship relationship,” she said. “It’s not just about walking away or physical distancing.”

Everyone at this stage usually has a time when they know they have to get away from their parents and deal with obstacles on their own, Byock said. For her, realization came after a breakup in her mid-twenties. She called her mother crying in the middle of the night, and her mother offered to visit and help her. Byock was tempted, but refused.

“It was so nice that she offered to come to my rescue, but I also knew at that moment that I had to do it myself,” she said. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t always rely on parents in times of crisis, she said. “I don’t think it’s about ever needing parents again,” she said. “But doing the subtle work in itself and understanding: this is a moment that I have to face alone.”

Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves

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