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The Psychology of Generation Y

Generation Y (todays 18 to 30 year olds) that lazy, skinny jeaned, floppy haired, entitled, disengaged, whiny species you hate is probably the most psychologically sound generation.
What are you doing right now? Is it something you love? Millions of people this very second are doing exactly what makes them happy. I bet you are thinking about how you spend a large part of your life in a job that everyday threatens you with its potential to drive you insane. But hey, there is always the weekend..Oh, where did it go its Monday again!!

The way we work influences new trends and behaviours in society. And if the world right now appears new and different to you, it’s Generation Y that has captured these new ideas. Gen y or millennials represent a new workforce in a global market and believe it or not have high aspirations. Half already have, or plan to open their own business, and due to their digital, fluid and collective mind-set, they are driving the change that will affect how we work in the future.

If this sounds complicated, then you’re probably a baby boomer. Keeping things simple was the motto of the babyvintage_Esso_service_station boomers in the 50’s and 60’s. Rules were clearly defined and understood . Workspaces were largely confined to the office or factories. Responsibilities were individual and very specific and you knew exactly when you clocked in and out for the day. Aft
er World War 2 the institution represented the security everyone dreamed of. Therefore it made perfect sense to be a company man – psychologically people responded well to linear and hierarchical structures. But be careful, for once you chose a career, it was usually a decision that lasted the rest of your life. Older generations would teach the younger because putting in years of experience was essential for you to move up in the company. Having a job would guarantee you a stake in society, and be the first step towards marriage and a baby nine months later. Work and personal life did n
ot mix-you were done as soon as your wife took your coat. However, that’s not to say that baby boomers didn’t work hard, they did, and this was largely to do with upholding a sense of discipline and order. Daily sacrifices were made to ensure family security and a big payoff would finally arrive later on in life.

Generation x, the product of neo liberalism and capitalism in overdrive, redefined the time relationship between work and reward. Super confident, extroverted, competitive and constantly in the pursuit of growtgordon-gekkoh, this generation was always on the lookout for new offers and opportunities. A profitable idea could easily put you into a leadership position based on meritocracy without taking into account the experience of the employee. As they constantly looked for new ways to stand out from the competition, a reliance on degrees and MBA’s began to emerge to get ahead. This was a more individualistic style of thinking and a nice wardrobe became essential to close deals and expand networks. Being in the right place at the right time in order to capitalise on an opportunity began to define the work schedule. Business time extended to happy hour and beyond, and this cocktail of business and pleasure turned the workaholic into an admired object of desire. Brought up with the self-esteem movement, it was all about winning, the winner being whoever could get on the board in the shortest possible time. Once they arrived, they immediately lived out the pleasures of this achievement.




But today, the journey’s little different. It seems more important to have fun on the ride, than reach the final destination. Generation y are the ones perfectly translating this new vision. In a time when pleasure determines professional accomplishment they know like no other, how to recognise opportunities that link passion with work. The creative economy, new professions, an entrepreneurship boom and the new collective power are painting a brilliant and never before seen scenario. It’s hardly surprising these millennial bugs are so impatient – the speed at which they connect with the world sets the pace for their work relations. Long term projects are less stimulating, and they need constant feedback so they can feel their efforts are being recognised. Perhaps the impression of narcissism on social media is actually people just reaching out for a universal human need-to feel validated, listened to, to know that you are ‘doing ok’. The traditional pyramid structure inside organisations doesn’t fit with these anxious young people. Another reason generation y is disliked by the baby boomers? They are happy to work with older generations so long as the relationship is on equal terms with mutual respect. This exchange of knowledge is ageism free.


Then there is the internet. This has allowed for real empowerment amongst the young as they are now able to discover things on their own. It has become natural to diversify your channels and seek out informal tools for education, instead of just doing a degree, which in turn is becoming more expensive and less valuable.Fresh_Air_Generation_Y-front-large

Professional commitment comes from truly engaging experiences. Besides having a job, it has become more important to have a purpose that can be carried out in different formats the same time. Mobility, shared workspaces, home offices and the possibility to dictate your own hours, make work always possible, anytime, anywhere.
genyguyAnd it’s because of this reason that people with different work styles are having more freedom to tap into their talents, so even those with introverted personalities can turn their ideas into million, or billion pound businesses (Mark Zukerberg anyone?) Yes you can stay in bed as long as you maintain an updated profile across your social media platforms. Flexibility, the key to evolution, is well understood by generation y. They are fascinated by being involved in works in progress and understand the need to constantly acquire new skills. They are more excited about living in a permanent beta world where nothing is finished and is always being tested and made newer. They are exhilarated about working collaboratively, but also need autonomy. They can change direction much quicker and are less likely to let attachments hold them back.


You see it’s about living better in the present, with no illusion that the future can be controlled. This is because of one simple thing. Whoever adapts more easily can move along with the changes. If this all feels overwhelming, and you are looking for the right answer – well sorry here’s the question for you again – are you doing what you love right now? NO? THEN START!! The clock is ticking and your life is in a hurry. Find you passion and make it happen. Love is the force that puts you in motion – It’s the only way to lead a fulfilling life everyday. You can spend your whole life worrying about the ghosts of the past and the path to the future, but all we have is the present, and the decisions we make out of love or fear. We often disguise fear for practicality, taking the safe job. But think about this – you can fail just as easily doing what you don’t want, so why not take a chance on what you do want?

exercise your mind

The Best way to manage your weight? Exercise your MIND.

The Best way to manage your weight? Exercise your MIND.


OK so this may not be as groundbreaking as the recent cosmos discovery, but did you know that your weight is directly related to the food that you eat and your relationship with that food? Yes we are stating the well-established obvious.  This knowledge has been drummed into our psyches from as far back as any of us living on earth today can remember. However are you aware of just how ‘it’s complicated’ this relationship with food is? The therapists at iRise Psychology have pooled together to work on an exciting project examining the psychology of weight management. With a combination of clinical experience and evidence based psychotherapeutic models, they have been developing new ways of thinking about weight loss. In summary they have found that before you embark on a weight loss or management plan, you need to deconstruct and understand how to manage the factors that prevent successful and consistent weight management.




When looking at psychological factors at play with food, we realise just how primal and developmentally profound our relationship to food is. As babies we form just as strong an attachment to food than with any other early interpersonal attachments. In fact the emotional response to food can become confused with other nurturing attachments. For instance, when a baby is being fed, it is completely unable to work out if they feel better from food nurturance, eye contact or emotional closeness and warmth. So in reality food is perhaps the most logical choice when we are in need of comfort. This also expands into our cultural framework – when we celebrate in society, it usually involves eating.

Moreover, if as children our compassionate attachments were deficient, food becomes one of the most powerful ways of counteracting that deficiency. There are some extremely powerful forces influencing our relationship with food.

Clinical experience has shown how frequently problems with food are linked to psychological difficulties. “It’s definitely linked to my depression” was the response from one of our clients, who in treatment spoke of her unhappy marriage. “I tend to eat when I am unhappy, it gives me a pleasure that is missing. It’s like that numbing feeling you have after Sunday lunch, where you can’t move”. With many clients we see the use of food being inextricably linked to often valid reasons for unhappiness. It may start from a psychological issue but after time your physiology also changes, distorting your appetite control and pushing their weight into the higher levels of obesity.

Another client, referred to by their GP to us with weight related medical problems, also spoke of bad relationships and working nights as a cause for their weight gain. “When you feel stuck in a rut you have to have some comfort, and it’s better than drinking and smoking, right?” she said. The difference with food is that you can’t cut it out, thereby differentiating it from other common addictions and adding to the complexities.



Emotional eaters can tend to develop a number of triggers. Emotions, specific foods and situations can all set off a period where eating is no longer controllable. It is essential therefore that these triggers are understood and managed in ways that stop the person resorting to food. Triggers are where psychology comes in and begins to play the most important part in successful weight management.

The experience of trying to lose or manage your weight always brings the inevitable question: Why do most people fail to stick to weight loss programs, or why do people always put the weight back on? The reason we believe at Mentis Psychology is because of a missing ingredient in weight management protocols. This is no minor ingredient and is the essence of the whole dish!


Mind Games

As anyone who has struggled with their weight will tell you, losing weight is a MIND GAME. To lose weight and keep it off, the key is our mindset. If you don’t work on this first and get it right, then most diet plans and exercise programs will eventually expire. You will end up psychologically sabotaging your efforts. This approach to weight management begins with a key premise. Do not even being trying to lose weight until you have the right mindset, realistic expectations, and have learnt or are willing to learn from past experiences. The second apriorism to focus on is that weight gain is generally another symptom of an underlying issue. The reason why weight management fails is because (as is often the case with western healthcare) we only try to treat the symptom, not the underlying reason for weight gain. Success depends on understanding what the weight gain was a symptom of, or inevitable failure will follow.


The Importance of YOU

In a study carried out by Professor Kerrigan at the obesity clinic at The Countess of Chester Hospital, he found that out of 100 female patients 50% had experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse. Research also suggests that overweight African American women endure higher levels of racism than there lighter counterparts. These statistics can feel somewhat redundant as we are all too aware in our thin centic society the stigma and discrimination involved in being overweight. It all makes having the right mindset even more difficult to achieve. This is where working with a therapist on self-esteem and self-compassion is vital to your success. We believe self-compassion to be somewhat of a rising star in the world of psychological interventions. This TEDX talk by Dr Kristen Neff on self-esteem is really worth watching.

Breaking it down into three areas, Self kindness, Common Humanity and Mindfulness, she also speaks on how we think being critical is a way to motivate others, as well as ourselves. In reality it increases the likelihood of not even trying, of giving up, as we want to avoid the pain of being criticised again. This also taps into the ‘fear of failure’ we mentioned in our blog post on resolutions last year. This is so relevant to the pivotal issue of motivation in the psychology of weight loss, as so many clinicians and personal trainers (often unconsciously)try to shame and guilt people into losing weight.

Dr Piper, Clinical Service manager at iRise Psychology adds “A positive sense of self always plays a key role in any changes you are trying to make in your life. Very often people think they are unhappy because they are overweight, when in reality being unhappy has made them overweight. Speaking to a therapist to uncover these issues can have a profound effect on all areas of your life and make you more appreciative of yourself. Very often when people become more than comfortable with themselves and their body image they feel that loosing weight is not really an issue.



Is Capitalism making us Crazy?

By Dr Benjamin Piper

London, a beacon of capitalism, is a great place to live and work as a Psychologist. At work I am confronted with so many different presentations and by so many different types of people. We are all living on top of each other, trying to figure things out both individually and collectively as groups. Working with clients from different cultures has made my field of work much more ‘internationalised’. And the prominence of social constructionist theory means that as therapists we work with the understanding that minds are created and maintained by individuals’ participation in social worlds – worlds defined (among other things) by country of origin and specific region, race, gender and socio-economic status.

This approach is incredibly effective as these social worlds can help me to understand influences on other peoples thinking and feeling and they can also suggest to me how people structure what they think and feel.  However, western cultural imperialism often leads therapists to overlook specific western cultural features for universal principals. This is hardly surprising considering psychological research from the last 100 years has come pretty much exclusively from American or European psychologists. This research is rooted in Western philosophical assumptions about what it means to be a group member in an individualist orientated society.

I first began thinking about the effect of western culture and capitalism on psychological functioning the day Margaret Thatcher died. I learnt of her death on arriving at Liverpool Street Station, through a copy of the Evening Standard. As I walked through the city, that sort of insular, business – ghetto, on my way to my offices in Bishopsgate, I thought about who Margaret Thatcher was to me. It is safe to say, more so in retrospect, that I am a child of Thatcher. As an actual child I guess I recall her as something of a headmistress – a stern matriarchical figure, hair like an iron helmet, that instantly recognisable voice, shouting at the IRA, the miners, the rioters, the single mums, the Argentineans; well everyone really.

I walked past people on that day and saw myself reflected back in their faces, slightly tired and pensive tired, rushing to get back to work – just as Thatcher would have wanted. And it made me realise the effect western neo liberalism can potentially have on our psychological structuring. We heard a lot about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy that day, from how she broke the glass ceiling for women, (in so far perhaps that the falling shards of glass impaled any women that came after her) and more importantly that she created an ‘aspirational’ society, somewhat contradictory perhaps as it was Margaret Thatcher who told us there was no such thing as society.

I certainly would not argue that an ‘aspirational’ society would be detrimental to someone’s psychological processing, however we need to consider what we were told to aspire to – things. Things are incredibly important to us these days and the words of Oscar Wilde of 100 odd years ago never ring more true today ‘we know the price of everything and the value of nothing’. Very often we end up loving the things we have and using the people we know. If we look at some of the main components of capitalism, we start to see potentially serious psychological structuring issues.  Free market enterprise and capitalism often do not promote efficiency or abundance, but rather they instead encourage artificial creation of scarcity to maximize profits, encourage suboptimal technological development in order to maintain cyclical consumption and put the interest of people second to monetary gain. Capitalism is a zero sum game, where in order to win you have to be better than everyone else because there isn’t enough to go round. This idea can feed into western social problems where ‘failure’ creates a sense of inadequacy, and being born at a socio economic disadvantage creates a feeling of inferiority.

Capitalism as an ideology perhaps owes it success to one of the few universal norms of human behaviour. The one constant force we all share is desire. It propels us to acquire our most basic needs and wants, such as food and to be safe, to wanting the new Samsung Galaxy android phone. We constantly desire something, and when capitalist marketing strategies tell us what to desire, we expect to be fulfilled once we have acquired it.

However in my practice, I work with extremely wealthy clients who have everything they could desire. I also have clients who would not be considered wealthy. On psychological wellbeing measures they score almost identically. Neither is more or less happy than the other. There is plenty of research to support my personal findings, lottery winners have been found to be no happier than before their win and successful Olympians are remarkably prone to depression after sporting success.

The internal dialogue we have with ourselves where we expect or ask ourselves why we aren’t getting the things we want, whether it be from inanimate objects or our relationships with others, can manifest itself as psychological problems when we view not having certain things as the reason for being unhappy. Obtaining the things that we want and being successful is great. It also goes a long way to changing your living situation. But it can’t change you. After the initial surge of happiness we can eventually become dissatisfied with our new situation, or the new situation presents us with a whole new list of problems.

In a sense, it appears our capitalist attitude towards money and possessions can make us unhappy. It can cultivate core beliefs about not being good enough, being a failure, feeling inferior and worthless and even that we are unlovable. These types of internal beliefs can lead to anxiety and a heap of unhappiness. Please do not get me wrong, I am not against financial success and certainly strive for this myself but for me success is also defined in other ways.

I guess what I am suggesting is that you should not allow the side effects of capitalism to get you criticising yourself and comparing yourself  unfavourably with others. Feeling negatively about oneself certainly does not promote motivation for you to chase your dreams. The best way for most of us to achieve is to set very personal goals and not to measure all our success on possessions and how much we earn. So, what I am getting at is: be aware that the structure of our society can lead to self-critical rumination and self-doubt.  If you are able to look past this it is more likely that you’ll be happier. And when we are not criticising ourselves it is more likely that we’ll reach for and achieve what success means for each of us personally.