Beyond Comfort:

Notes from a Psychologist on sabbatical.

Why this blog and why now?

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 13:30 -- Thibault

Personally, this blog is a way of responding to the question what is a life worth living? I became a psychologist five years ago, and over that time, my focus has been on my professional career. Everything else in my life was put on cruise control and it was comfortable to not think about my life and problems when I spent so much time thinking about others. Over the years, I put a lot on the backburner: my health, my relationship, my passions, and my spiritual practice. Work was challenging, rewarding, and it had a sustaining effect. Needless to say, I didn’t notice the check engine sign of my life blinking constantly and just kept driving along. Without going into details, there was a breaking point, and although painful, it came with the realization that I had nothing to lose. It was the only thing that was clear and I knew that I couldn’t really go back to how things were. I had changed. I didn’t really know what I had to do, I just knew how to do it, get out of my comfort zone and into life. Another way of saying it would be that I realized to never turn my back too long on what I love. 

Professionally, this blog is about how people choose life-affirming actions even in front of incredible adversity. My clients have always been a source of challenge and inspiration. I spend a lot of time working with people who have debilitating chronic pain.  They often come see me, depressed, anxious, helpless, and powerless. Step by step, with courage and determination, they learn about their condition and develop skills to get back up on their feet. What I find inspiring is the exact moment when change occurs. The first one happens when they realize that they have more control over their condition than they believed. Often, when therapy is successful, they will tell me that it was all worth it, and they wouldn’t change a thing about what happened to them because of what they learned in the process. It is often bitter sweet because it is about living with pain, grieving what you once had while at the same time connecting with what you need and value.  

Socially, this blog is about finding a new way to digesting the promises of the free world and its consequences on our health and our environment. How can we have a sustainable society when it is run by boards of men whose sole purpose is making short-term profit and whose greed control more money than all the governments in the world? The system keeps churning because it continues to make profit, but everyone knows, deep down, that one day, it will crack.  And the cracks are already showing. In 2001, the World Health Organization estimated that in 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability. According to a recent report by the Global Burden of Disease Study, we’re already there and have been for four years. We can speak of depression, but the same can be said about the rise of anxiety disorders. More and more people are suffering from depression and anxiety than ever before, and all of this at a younger age.

All in all, this blog is fueled by a desire to articulate a new way of being in this world. It is not enough to point the finger at others for the causes of our misfortune. We are not fully responsible for our lives but we are responsible for our choices. How do we know when we have lost our way? How do we get back on track? As I write these words, I hear Zen Master Mumon’s warning said with a stern urgency: “Now tell me, what will you do? You must make the utmost effort to come to awakening in this life, lest you have eternal regret”. 


Submitted by Amy Otteson (not verified) on

Hey Thibs!

i look forward to following this blog. I reached one of those breaking points myself a couple of years ago. Had to find some fuel for myself. Can't wait to read about your insights. 


Submitted by Rachel (not verified) on

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Submitted by Tatiana (not verified) on

Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don't understand the reason why I can't join it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!! 

Submitted by Neil (not verified) on

 I'm not fond of the term "generation me" in reference to the millennials. It's not like the economy is the same as it was in the '70s except that young people don't care to take the available work. There used to be a time when one could get an entry level job that actually paid a livable wage; but those days are gone.

Milennials would love to have better jobs that pay more, but the wage you can earn today is about the same as it was in the '80s, except that the money has far less purchasing power. My generation isn't lazy, we're being screwed over.

Submitted by Jesse (not verified) on

"Generation me" refers to this generations sense of entitlement. The concept of which is embodied perfectly in your last sentence. You feel you deserve a better paying entry level job because your parents generation had that. At least that's what I get out if it, but I'm no expert.

Submitted by Neil (not verified) on

So you don't believe that if you work full time you should be entittled to a living wage?

Isn't that sort of the fundamental promise of western capitalist society? That each generation should have at least a fair shot at earning more than their parents?

I would agree that we have an entitlement problem if there were a whole bunch of living-wage jobs available and nobody taking them, but such jobs, for the most part, no longer exist, certainly ot in te volume that they existed 40 years ago.

Submitted by Jesse (not verified) on

I do believe that we deserve a living wage for working full time, but not because one generation, in one nation, at one point in time had that. Everyone on earth deserves a decent quality life. The problem with our western capitalist society is that the wealth filters up and the rich just keep getting richer. 
But again, I wouldn't be the expert. I was born in the 70's and have been self employed since the mid-90's.

Submitted by Neil (not verified) on

We're not talking about one generation at one point in history... we're talking about every previous generation in North American history.

Yes, the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer, and the chronic under-employment of the millennial generation is a symptom of this income inequality. I don't think it's fair to blame the underemployed for not having good jobs unless there are actually good jobs available.

Yes millennials do feel somewhat entitled to a living wage, sure, but not any more so than previous generations, the difference is that previous generations didn't have to complain about not earning a livable wage, because they actually did earn a livable wage.


Submitted by Thibault on

Thank you both for your comments! You're right Neal, our generation has much more difficulties than previous generations about finding suitable work with money that buys less. And Jesse, you are right; one of the findings is that we are more entitled, more narcissistic than previous generations. And when you mix both of these together, you become much more susceptible to depression and anxiety. 

Obviously, these trends don’t come out of a vacuum. Generation me are the children of the baby-boomers. It makes me think of that old commercial in the 80’s where the father catches his son’s drug stash and confronts him and he responds by saying: "I learned it from YOU, dad!" So this kind of who’s better doesn’t make much sense and doesn’t help us better understand what we can do right now. 

Remember, these are generational trends, and like norms, they don't describe an individual person with his or her strengths and weaknesses... But we are influenced by them, like we are influenced by many elements of society. In order to find our way, we have to come to understand these influences and acknowledge our blindspots. 

My next article will be on what I mean by Generation me. Hope you stick around. I really appreciate the discussion. 

Submitted by Steven (not verified) on

Sorry Neal, but you might want to study some history if you think that every generation in north american history prior to ours earned a living wage and did so without having complained about a lack thereof. a lot of people died in the struggle for things like minimum wage, the 8 hour work day, having days off etc. Yeah, there were a couple of generations for whom occupations that paid a "living wage" were more plentiful, but that stuff didn't just happen and it wasn't simply a natural consequence of capitalism. You may want to do some reading on economic history and the history of the labour movement as well. 

and that fundamental promise of capitalism you state would only be possible if we lived in a world of infinite capacity, but since we live in a closed system you can't have infinite growth. that each generation has a shot at earning more than their parents has nothing to do with capitalism.

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