It is a trend within the human race that there is a feud between generations. Throughout history, the old and the young find fault with each other. And today is no exception. Previous generations despise the millennial generation and even millennials hate other millennials. But every generation contains both positive and negative. For this and many other reasons, I want to explain the millennial generation. I must first warn you that to talk about a group consciousness, I must generalize.
We are going to begin at a high level. If you were to look through the lens of objective universal consciousness, you would see that the millennial generation is a “game changer” generation. It exists to collapse one society and re-build another one. It exists to bring humanity into free will. This is part of why they have come to adulthood in the information age where there are so many choices. The opposite of free will is determinism. How determinism works in society is that causation takes one of two roads. Either the previous generation does something one way and the next does it the exact same way, or the previous generation does something one way and the next does it the exact opposite way. One is repeat and one is rebellion. Both are in fact determinism. Neither are a byproduct of free will. Both are simply a reaction. Determinism has played itself out for so many generations like a pendulum swing creating very slow progress in the human race. They create extremes, both of which create their own kind of dysfunction. For example, the silent generation felt it was unwise to speak out and the baby boomers spoke out violently against things, expecting that doing so would improve things.
The millennial generation was designed to get humanity out of that perpetual pendulum swing. It is best to think of them as the “cards are up in the air” generation. They are the generation that is meant to see the shadows and change them. They are the generation that gets that the way things have been done will not work anymore. However they ended up “opting out of the game” because of trauma and therefore contain shadows of their own. These shadows that exist in the millennial consciousness must be seen because they will make it impossible to build the new. And if millennials can’t see them and integrate them, they will go down in history as the wounded generation and that ‘building of the new society’ will have to be done by the subsequent generations. They will go through life and never really find deep fulfillment.
All this being said, we cannot constructively look at the wounds that created these negative outcomes without compassion. Lack of understanding and lack of compassion is what dominates the minds of most who correctly identify the problems with the millennial generation. So with compassion, I ask you to look at the causation of the millennial consciousness. By seeing the causation, it will be easier to view actual solutions. If you are a millennial watching this, seeing your own wounding and the potential shadows within that wounding is critical in order to create a future and society that you actually want instead of a life dictated by your wounding.
The millennials were born in the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. To understand them, you need to understand what happened in the world from 1980 to now. You must first understand childhood for the child growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. There is no way, (without writing multiple books) that I could explain the many failed parenting methods that reigned supreme in the 1980s and 1990s. But I’m going to hit some points. Children before the 1980s were exposed to all kinds of detrimental parenting methods and failed parenting strategies, but most parents were unconscious about this and simply put expectations on their children, assuming that the kids would magically meet those expectations and it would all pan out ok. And because of what was and wasn’t happening in society, there was still a chance that despite poor parenting methods, young adults could create a life that was ok.
In the 1980s, views about parenting changed. The boomers recognized some of the painful parenting techniques as the reason they had felt pain and instead of just repeating the way they were parented; they began looking for other opinions. It was the era of the parenting book. Some of the most detrimental parenting theories such as Parent Power and Sleep Training were born and employed at this time. And the detrimental parenting theories made into books only increased in the 1990s.
The single-family home became the norm and divorce sky rocketed. Because of this, children lost access to many of the emotional and self-esteem resources that previous generations had access to when it comes to meeting their needs. Boomers raised their children with a blend of ‘unconsciously exactly what their parents did’ and also ‘nothing like their parents did’. Unfortunately for them, instead of this leading to conscious parenting, this created a damaged generation with a lot of unmet needs.
Parenting in the 80’s and 90’s was a strange blend of careless and controlling. For example, in general, parents in the 1980s did not know what to feed their kids and therefore fed them all kind of things that destroy a child’s health. Kids were left unsupervised for large chunks of time because there was a lack of awareness about many of the dangers that parents are now all too aware of. This unsupervised play came with both benefits and dangers. At the same time, parents tended to be much more controlling in certain ways, hoping to be able to dictate the outcome of their child’s adult life. Parents were rigid about their children’s commitment to doing well at school, getting good grades, getting a good job, doing certain things with money, behaving in ways they thought would lead to social success etc. Millennials were also raised with the carrot and stick (punishment and reward) approach.
The most important thing to understand is that most parents in the 1980s and 1990s raised their children to believe that if the child did what he or she did or said to do, there would be a good life (a carrot) waiting for them at the end of that road and if they didn’t, there would be consequences and pain. The millennials jumped on that train, they tried to excel not only for approval but also believing that their closely guided efforts would yield positive results. And they didn’t. They didn’t big time!
The millennials were dumped out into the world as young adults with all forces against them. It’s akin to releasing a bird from its nest in a hailstorm that would last for its entire lifetime. Not only did failed parenting methods and childhood trauma mean that many of them had emotional development delays, they came into society at a time of financial collapse… One of the worst in history in fact. One we are still suffering from today. They were told that getting good grades, going to a good school, getting a good job and finding a good partner and having kids would be how to succeed at life. Instead, it did nothing for them. In fact, it created the very suffering they were told they could avoid by going down that road. Tuition cost so much that they had to take out massive student loans. They were told that having a job would soon take care of that. But even with a degree, they couldn’t get jobs because there was a backing up of the natural cycle of job progression to retirement. No one could retire. Overqualified people had to take jobs they would not have considered before. The millennials were now competing in the workplace against their parent’s generation and even grandparent’s generation. Not only could millennials not compete against their resumes, they had not been brought up for competition in the first place.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a huge push for equality had already taken place. A value established by the baby boomers. Parents and teachers encouraged this equality. They did things like give out participation awards and discourage competition. So now, they were in a highly competitive environment that they were unprepared for, had debt they could not pay back, no use for their degrees and had to go back into the entry level jobs they had held before and during college. These were jobs where many had to hold two jobs, just to pay the bills. They came to terms with the fact that they would most likely never be able to own a home or be able to afford to have kids. Many moved back in with their parents not because they wanted to, but because they felt it was either that or be on the street or be stuck on a hamster wheel working their asses off to afford the rent on a crappy apartment. Suddenly, the payoff or reward that they were promised would come as a result of all their hard work and investment looked like what it was… a pipe dream. A pipe dream, they are still expected to go for and criticized for not achieving.
And to make matters even worse, now in 2020, millennials are being hit by a repeat trauma. As we speak, the millennial generation is being retraumatized by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most especially, by the economic disaster caused by the shutdown/control measures that were put in place by members of the generations before them who are currently in power in the government. Many millennials who managed to defy the odds and start their own businesses, now find themselves in the same camp that those millennials who have been stuck in crappy entry level jobs have been in for a long time. Everything they worked so hard for, just got taken away. And those millennials that were worse off and stuck in the hamster wheel of society are even worse off now. The overwhelming meaning that they are all taking out of it… “I’ve been duped... What I was told is bullshit. It doesn’t matter how hard I work or how many things I try to do right, I’m not in control of any of it. They (generations above me) can just make a decision that makes me totally powerless to never being able to achieve something or powerless to it being taken away just like that”.
Many of the shadows that belong to millennials are the result of this feeling of having been “duped”. The generation before the millennials genuinely expected the world to improve with time. As a result, the millennials were sold an illusion of what would lead to a good life. They distrust authority because of this now. Many millennials feel that they were set up for failure. They were indoctrinated with ideas about how to succeed in a system that was in and of itself fundamentally flawed… A game rigged against them by the very generation who was supposed to guide them into further success. And because of this, where previous generations saw the things that their parents did wrong, most of them saw their parents as good enough to enable them to succeed in life at the very least. The millennial generation on the other hand feels totally set up for failure by their parents. There is a big difference between feeling like your parents did things wrong and feeling like your parents and/or their generation set you up to fail, hurt you and prevented you from success. Hatred springs from hurt. For this reason, there is actual hatred in the millennial generation towards the baby boomer generation. To the degree that when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, some millennials found themselves wishing that a virus would eradicate the previous generation so that they could stop being hurt and kept imprisoned in the hamster wheel by them.
Obviously, distrust is a natural reaction to being duped and set up for failure. As a result, the millennials are a distrustful group of people who have become obsessed with truth, what is real and authenticity. Millennials experience energy being invested in things as having no payoff whatsoever. For example, they put their energy into the family, only to have divorce ruin the family. They saw that no matter how hard their parents worked at marriage; marriage does not last. They put their energy into being the way that they were taught would guarantee them social success and saw that it only made them “better slaves”. They put their energy into school only to end up deeply in student debt and unable to get a job with their degree after graduation. They started small businesses only to lose them in this most recent pandemic. This is what burn out is all about. This is why the millennial generation is the burn out generation.
Burnout happens when no matter hard you work at something, it doesn’t work. If you believe that investing your energy and effort into something will never pay off, how committed and invested are you? The answer is not very. The laziness that most people attribute to the millennial generation isn’t laziness. It is lack of investment and engagement. Focus is also investment. The attention span and focus of millennials is very short in part because of this wound around investment. This is obviously an issue if it takes investment and commitment to make anything happen. Millennials have a very hard time recognizing or believing in a positive outcome as a result of their efforts. They tend to be impatient because they do not have the trust in future payoff. Would you? It is a deeply disillusioned and even cynical generation.
Along this same vein, professionalism is something that people need to have incentive for. There has to be a payoff to behaving professionally in order for someone to be professional. And so many of the elements of professionalism, like dressing well or doing a good job at a task or being reliable or keeping one’s emotions in control, simply seem like control tactics rather than anything that really gets them any particular pay off.
Seeing that nothing really panned out has thrown millennials into an existential crisis about what is true vs. false and about what truly matters vs. doesn’t. Millennials were thrust into a quarter life crisis. Very little that the previous generations valued is valued by the millennials. To generalize, they see good parenting as the most important thing, so much so that many of them will not be having children because they feel they cannot be good parents for any number of reasons ranging from emotional reasons to financial reasons to even the belief in a poor prognosis for the future of earth. They are divided relative to relationship. Many have given up on it entirely and opted for casual sex or serial monogamy. And many are determined to solve the Rubik’s Cube of how to have a good relationship no matter how impossible it seems. They care about finding work that is meaningful and fulfilling while they are actually doing it as opposed to putting forth effort now (even if it is not enjoyable) so as to experience a payoff later.
Because they were promised that putting their effort forth in a certain way would yield positive returns and it didn’t, they could see that those things they were guided to be and do, were not actually in their best interests. They were in other people’s best interests. If everyone is out for his or her own best interests, then they subconsciously decided that the law of the land on earth is: Every man for himself. Naturally, they became hyper focused on their own best interests and also withdrew their loyalty to others. They became “me, me, me” thinking this was the only way to ever get their needs met. This is a narcissistic way of being that makes it very hard for a millennial to be a functional member of a team. This is a drastic contrast to previous generations. Previous generations have held the perspective that to be a success and to feel good, they had to work hard at creating and preserving relationships no matter the cost. The millennials have seen this as exactly what screwed them. So they have the reverse mentality. To be a success and feel good, you have to fight for your own best interests and keep loose connection to people and things.
Looking at all of this, we come to the second major wounding for the millennial generation. They worked hard for no positive outcome or return. Do you know who else works hard for no return? Slaves. Millennials truly feel as though they were duped into becoming a slave to the system. They see that they are on a hamster wheel that will actually take them nowhere and all for the benefit of ‘someone else’ other than them. They see workforce competition and incentives programs as a ploy on behalf of authority figures to simply make them become even better slaves. Most of the “shadows” that have been ascribed to millennials like entitlement, the demand to be seen as important and to be recognized, the complete rejection of hierarchy and their lack of loyalty and investment within companies, are a result of this perception that they hold.
The life experience of the millennial has imbued them with a fundamental belief in their own powerlessness, incapacity and therefore low self-esteem. When someone feels powerless and incapable and therefore believes that the actualization of their desires truly is out of their own hands, they put the pressure and responsibility of their desires and needs on whoever they perceive as having more power than they do in a given situation. This is what other people then call ‘entitled’.
To understand millennials in the workplace, I want you to imagine feeling you are a slave and are expected to stay a slave and see yourself walking into a company where you perceive a boss to be a slave owner. What would you be sensitive to? How would you act? Either you will enter a company and fight for your own best interests and expect your needs to be the responsibility of your boss and always be on the lookout for how you are being used and exploited (and remain unattached and uninvested because there’s nothing in it for you) OR you will exit the system entirely and become your own boss. Millennials play a serious zero-sum game with companies that hire them because they perceive those companies to already be playing a zero-sum game with them by trying to make them a slave. Remember a slave is someone who works for almost no (and therefore an unfair) return. There is no work life balance for millennials. They desire a real re-working of what is fair exchange for their time and energy as well as a re-working of the economy so as to feel that they can afford life and the things they want, without killing themselves on a hamster wheel that never gets them anywhere.
Millennials are freedom obsessed because of this wounding. They refuse hierarchy and many perceive commitment, especially when commitment becomes hard, to be fruitless and restrictive. They also tend to hate rules. “Because this is the way things are done” and “because I said so” are not going to cut it for the millennial generation, especially in the information age. They operate with a mentality of “the rules don’t apply to me”. Obviously, this has an up-side and a downside. People who question the rules, can be unconventional innovators or they can wreak societal havoc.
As a result of this, millennials have embraced shadow freedom. Shadow freedoms or out of alignment freedoms are all reactions to feeling not free, but that are not true free will and are instead detrimental to a person. Some examples of shadow freedom are: Refusing to commit to anything or better said, committing to non-commitment. Refusing to assume responsibility for anything. Remaining unattached and uninvested so you can change course at the drop of a hat. Choosing to be a king of a country with only one citizen rather than a lower ranking member of a large kingdom etc.
Many millennials have gotten to a point where they see that nothing they are doing or are expected to do will ever get them to a life that feels good or where they can have those things that guarantee a good life. As a result, instead of stay on the hamster wheel and try to make something work that will never work, some give up. They develop an attitude of “what’s the point” and instead of put effort in for a future payoff, simply go for whatever instant gratification they can get in the moment. Including distractions and addictions. Millennials who have reached this point can feel quite lost and fickle and float from one job to the next and from one passion to the next and one relationship to the next.
Millennials are angry. Really, really angry. They feel like their education hasn’t gotten them any life satisfaction which makes them feel hopeless because it is assumed that knowledge gives you the tools for a better life. But it hasn’t worked. They perceive the message from other people to be “put up with it”. This is why they are so easily triggered. They feel they are being told to put up with being a slave, put up with things being unfair, put up with insult, put up with a flawed system staying the same, put up with never having your needs met, put up with inequality etc. The millennial generation isn’t going to put up with anything.
They are also exhausted, suffering the burnout of feeling lied to and taken advantage of and of having so fully committed to a pipe dream, only to figure out it was a pipe dream too late… A pipe dream that they are still expected to be committed to, despite the fact that it is never going to pan out. Most feel they will be paying the consequences for believing their parents and getting on that hamster wheel forever. The level of distress in the average millennial’s life is not sustainable and they have turned to all kinds of detrimental coping mechanisms, including addictions, as a result.
On top of this, they are also shamed and guilted for turning out distrustful, entitled (which they see as simply fighting to not be taken advantage of), impatient, self-concerned (which they see as just common sense in a world where everyone is in it for themselves), uninvested, demanding equality and truth etc. Many millennials are struggling. The baby boom generation has not handed off the baton to them so they can create society the way that they want it to look. As a result, they feel they are told to be an adult in a society that they perceive themselves having no control over. That is a gaslight in and of itself. They are told to vote for a system that they feel they can’t change or even effect. They perceive themselves to be on a hamster wheel to becoming a slave and many do not know how to get off. Their mentality is to win the game or get out of the game or stand up to the slave drivers rigging the game. So many of the millennials that have succeeded, have ‘gone rogue’. And this is now the aspiration of many millennials. Their mentality is, you can’t fix or win in the system, you have to pull out of it and destroy it.
And on top of this, they essentially created social media. Technology is a whole other conversation we could have around millennials. But social media reinforces many of the millennial shadows like the tendency to not form deep, meaningful relationships and coping through social media addiction. And it means that not only are millennials suffering from everything I have just described; they have the illusion that they are alone in not being able to make anything work. People’s social media accounts give the impression that “everything is awesome” for everyone else. So millennials are struggling with loneliness and the shame of perceived failure in a big way.
Millennials are struggling to try to stay in a society they were meant to replace. They have one foot in and one foot out. Millennials must understand the wounds they carry and seek to heal them so their life is not simply a reaction and so they can step into their universal purpose. Anyone who works with millennials must understand these wounds and help them to develop the skills they have disowned because of those wounds. Essentially, society must accept that these wounds must be worked with, instead of simply expecting millennials to act differently. Until they heal those wounds, so as to not be controlled by them, they will struggle to build a healthy new society, which is what the world so desperately needs.
If you are interested in how to heal the millennial wounding, I will be doing an episode next week on how to heal the millennial generation.