"Behold, the Millennial Nuns"

I am honored to be included in this excellent piece on the psychological pull towards rigor and rules when life feels empty, hard, and unguided. Well done, Eve Fairbanks.

Illustration by Matt Wisniewski

Illustration by Matt Wisniewski

Excerpted from the article:

…I used to think I was the only one whose outwardly awesome-seeming life—I was following my “passion” in a rocky economy, maintaining my friendships, looking good on Facebook—bore almost no relationship to her roiling inner monologue, until a friend of mine showed me her diary. It was shocking because the sentiments sounded so much like my own and also so little like anything most of us are courageous enough to reveal: ceaselessly self-scrutinizing, ceaselessly self-punishing. “Am I less interesting at 24 than I was at 17? Where has all my discipline, all those self-imposed exercises gotten me?” She spoke of trying to recover some potential life and world that had, in her early 20s, already been lost. Contemplating her desire for securities like money and a nice husband, she wrote, “I’m realizing I’m much more conservative than I thought.”

When I read this passage to Satya Doyle Byock, an Oregon-based psychotherapist who focuses on counseling young adults, she laughed grimly. “That’s the essence of what I hear over and over again,” she said. “We’re raised in a quantitative culture with quantitative goals.” She works with young people who believe society has given them all of the tools and the technology and the science to construct an ideal life. But they still feel like failures. And they feel shame for feeling it, and thus they are trapped in an ironclad double bind. Declaring everything achievable tends to dig a well of grief in people because it implies that any problem we encounter is a result of our miscalculation. “It causes suffering,” she said, “by denying the necessity of suffering.”

Read the full article here.

On Millennials in Relationships, in the New York Times

I was quoted a few months backin The New York Times in an article about GenXers and Millennials in relationship.

I think far too much is made of these supposed generational differences. Yet the statistics show that Millennials are lowering the divorce rate overall by 18% so far! So perhaps, after all the accusations they’ve endured, they’re doing something well…

Here’s my take, from the article “I Married a Millennial. I Married a Gen Xer. Now What?” published June 7th, 2018.

“Satya Doyle Byock, a psychotherapist in Portland, Ore., whose practice specializes in treating people in their 20s and 30s, notes that many of her millennial clients also aren’t willing to endure an unhappy or stagnant relationship. And that, she said, is a good thing.

‘Some might view that as entitled,’ Ms. Doyle Byock said, ‘but I see that as hopeful.’”

Dear Satya: How do I get over a crush?

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From Goop's Snapchat magazine

Joanna,

I’m so sorry— this is the worst feeling! I’ve been there. Everyone has. I wish I could tell you that there’s a quick trick for getting over this person. But it may take a while.

One way to start the process is to carefully explore the interactions you’ve had with this person; notice the ways in which you might feel ashamed or hurt by them. If you’re “hooked” on this fantasy because you’re trying to fix the past or make them feel differently about you, try to turn your attention to those hurt feelings instead. Rather than focus on the other person, notice what you’re feeling and why. Sometimes the very feeling of not being liked is the hook. Rejection can be humiliating, and humiliation—unfortunately—can keep us focused on all the wrong things and all the wrong people if we’re not careful. If you’re feeling humiliated or hurt by this person, that’s very different than a crush. Try to notice the difference and see that maybe this person wasn’t ever good for you to begin with. You dodged a bullet.

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If you’re not feeling humiliated, but just smitten with puppy dog love, I encourage you to take some time to really explore what it is about this person that you like. Consider writing these things down. Put the technology away for 30min so that you can think more clearly. Grab a piece of paper. Pick-up your journal.

What do you like about this person? Go a few layers down. Their beauty? Intelligence? Wit? Style? Keep digging. Get specific.

What fantasies do you have for the type of life you could have together?

Once you have a good sense of the nuances of your interest in this person and your dreams about being with them, you have a sense of what you’re looking for in your life. That’s right—not just what you’re looking for in another person, but what your heart is dreaming about for your own life, with or without them.

Something about this person inspires you, excites you, draws you in. Pay attention to those things. They don’t need to come in the form of another person! The more totally You you become in the early part of your life, the more a future partner can be another whole person alongside you—not “your other half”—but another whole. Side by side. You can get to wholeness by re-claiming all those amazing things you project onto another person when you fall for them in that kind of painful, overwhelming fantasy of love.

We can learn about what our souls most want for our lives by seeing what we long for in the world. Once you know that projection has been yours all along, you can take steps to pursue those passions, interests, and curiosities all on your own. Then when you meet someone who does return your interest, you’ll be more you and hopefully they’ll be more them.

It may take weeks or months, but stay with it. This painful unrequited crush may turn out to be a great opportunity for real growth and happiness. Once you “reclaim your projections” and take back the fantasies you had on this person, you’ll find you’re free... You may still like them, but it won’t feel like you’re bound and obsessed the way you once were. You can do this! You’ll never look back.

To thriving!

Satya

Self-Discovery Exercises for Quarter-Life on SimpleHabit

I'm happy to share that I recently launched a teaching series on the SimpleHabit meditation app, as their first therapist. The topic, naturally: Quarter-Life. 

I hope you'll check it out! The four short exercises are designed to guide you towards insight into your career path, and relationships. They don't replace therapy, but they're tastes of what's possible on the path of self-exploration. This isn't just empty advice, but guidance for self-inquiry. The more you know of your soul-self, the more you're going to know about where to find happiness and contentment in this complicated world.

You can start a free trial on SimpleHabit.

I'm happy to say that the response has been positive, and I hope you'll find similar value in the short recordings! 

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Dear Satya: Should I Already Know What I Want to Do With My Life?

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From Goop's Snapchat magazine

Maria,

My short and enthusiastic answer is: No. Do not worry that you do not know what you want to do with your life, but do get curious. Rather than compare your life with your friends’ lives, look carefully at your own. Who are you? What do you like and what do you dislike? Have you emphasized the preferences of others in your life to the point that you’ve never really asked yourself these questions?

There is little encouragement to deeply explore your own self in our culture, but plenty of encouragement to “be less selfish” and “less self-involved.” But without being curious about your individual, unique existence, what else are you bound to become but an actor, living a life that is not yours, or a false copy of those around you?

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I passionately encourage you to take-on the project of learning about the interests that define who you are. Make lists; keep a journal; track when your heart lights-up in excitement or, alternately, when your body is so exhausted by an activity that you can barely stay focused. Your own libido—your life force—will tell you a lot. Let it talk to you. The more you learn about what you are personally excited by--what you are inherently, instinctively interested in--the closer you will get to learning about a path that brings you joy.

Take risks as your explore. Try things that others don’t like but that have grabbed your attention. You have a path. Let your body and soul lead you to it.

Satya