Neuroticism on the Rise

As a mental health therapist, I see more people with anxiety than for any other condition these days.  Anxiety seems to be on the rise especially in the younger generations.  It is a harder world to live in than it was when I growing up.  The concern about getting shot at while in school, while at the mall, while at a concert or attending church wasn't something I worried about because it wasn't common.  There is a high demand on kids and teens to get the best grades, no less than an "A", in order to get into a good college in order to get a good job.  I'm grateful that I got a Master's degree because even when I was in college in the 90's, there was information out there about how a bachelor's degree wasn't enough to be competitive in getting a job, unless of course you are working in a field that doesn't require a degree.  It's getting harder and harder to afford to live a life in the USA and a lot of people are having to work 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet. 

The political climate doesn't do anything to lessen our woes.  In my 20 years of counseling, the 2017 election and results has come up more in therapy than any previous election or presidency.  The only good thing I can say about Trump being president is that it has brought issues around America's growing "narcissism" and "narcissistic abuse" to the forefronts of our nation's consciousness. One of the best coping skills for stress is having a good social support network and having close, reliable friends or family to rely on for emotional and social comfort.  However, in a age of disconnection where people can be in close proximity but disengaged from each other while being engrossed in their phones, any bit of social support has transformed from personal to digital.  Any kind of physical touch or closeness is generally shunned in American culture as opposed to other cultures.  Cyber bullying and mean tweeting and texting has gone viral. 

Most recently, I have been seeing more and more people who are afraid of death yet are not living a satisfying life because they are overwhelmed with anxiety and their fears are stopping them from living life fully.  When it comes to the fear of death, it seems to be more about the end of consciousness more than anything else.  While exploring spiritual beliefs may be a possible antidote to this, any talk of spirituality or life after death is a topic that is also shunned even in the therapy session because people overvalue science and "logic" in this age of Aquarius and view anything of a spiritual nature as "mumbo jumbo" or "foo foo" if not falling within whatever rigid guidelines they have created for their consciousness to contract more and more instead of expand and contract as the universe does. 

People so value free will that any talk of astrology or fate is off limits or rejected by their psyches.  While I believe that free will trumps fate, I also believe that fate has its place.  While I believe that certain things are fated for us to learn valuable spiritual lessons, I also believe that we have the free will to determine how we get to learn those lessons and how we are affected by those lessons.  The more and more we are open to the idea of fate with a growth mind set instead of helpless or powerless or oppressed mind set, the easier it becomes for us to live in our harmony with ourselves and live in more attunement to others.  We are always going to have those challenging few who want to impose their will on ours.  But as long as we set boundaries with emotional vampires and manipulators, we can feel free to spread our wings and fly into an expansive world that longs for our belonging. 

"Fear of fate is a very understandable phenomenon, for it is incalculable, immeasurable, full of unknown dangers.  The perpetual hesitation of the neurotic to launch out into life is readily explained by this desire to stand aside so as not to get involved in the dangerous struggle for existence.  But anyone who refuses to experience life must stifle his desire to live - in other words, he must commit partial suicide." - C.G. Jung, Symbols and Transformation, CW Vol. 5, par. 165)