Have you ever felt like you couldn’t go on?

Have you ever felt totally stuck in your life, trapped by your obligations, and wondering how did I get here?

Sometimes we can find ourselves so committed to climbing the ladder and creating the American Dream that we lose ourselves.

We become more focused on how the outside looks and lose touch with our essence. We’re so busy being do-gooders, or raising kids, or being the most successful entrepreneur, doctor, lawyer, creative, mommy-prenuer, whatever it is, that we become totally disconnected from our core Self.

Around 2006 I realized that the daily grind of living the good life was taking me further from my freedom and self-expression, which led to a growing sense of self-betrayal that plunged me into a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the life I’d worked so hard to create.

The dissatisfaction would come in sudden waves of inexplicable sadness or a longing to be free.

One time I was driving home from work and listening to Keith Urban’s “What About Me.”

         I’m livin’ in a world that won’t stop pullin’ on me

         I’m not complaining but it’s true

         It’s like I owe my time to everyone else

         ‘Cause that’s all I seem to do.

         Sometimes I can’t help thinkin’ what about me

         Some days go by that I don’t even see

         Yeah I’m doing everything right and I can’t break free

         Oh is this the way it’s always gonna be

         What about me?

The song’s lyrics touched my aching soul so acutely and deeply.

I was working so hard as a psychologist in a women’s prison to help other people break free of their inner prison’s and helping LGBT people get marriage equality, yet I felt totally trapped by my life. I didn’t have a moment of freedom. I just wanted to go camping. I wanted to stay in bed on a Sunday and drink coffee in bed and read a book. I wanted things to slow down.

My life was on a super highway and I wanted to meander the backroads. I wanted to make a positive difference in the world, but I didn’t want to be a martyr.

I cared deeply about everything I was doing, but my priorities were ass-backwards. I put other people’s needs and priorities ahead of my own. It was unsustainable.

It led to BURN OUT! And BREAK DOWN!

Two years later, in 2008 I quit my government job. I needed to create my work life in a way that was authentic to me. I’d done my best to create groups and programs to help the women I worked with in the prison and in turn the prison did it’s best to undermine those programs and return the focus to guard duty and human warehousing. It was the way the country was going at the time and I was tired of going against the stream.

I got clear how much more energy and joy I would have when I was going with the flow working for myself allowed me to focus on doing therapeutic and healing work and not be called away to handcuff or pat search someone.

I also decided not to work full-time for any one company so I wouldn’t be forced to do anything that didn’t mesh with my values just to keep a roof over my head. I decided multiple streams of income were safer, and the recession ultimately proved that instinct was on target.

Part-time was fine, but full time allegiance to a company that could ask you to do something unsavory, fire you for being LGBTQ, withhold your paycheck (as they did with the government shut down), or lay you off before Christmas to raise profits. No thank you!

This is another reason why I’m grateful for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because it meant I didn’t have to sell out just to get health care.

So what do you do if you find yourself burnout, stressed out, stuck?

Call a TIME OUT!

You need to pause the action. Obviously, you can’t pause everything, but you have to PAUSE something.

First, you have to make TIME and SPACE for yourself.

Step off the proverbial hamster wheel.

How do you do this?

You’ll need to look at your specific situation.

  • Take a day off! Do you have sick leave or vacation days you can take? If so, TAKE ONE.
  • Schedule a massage, a facial, a spa getaway. Go nurture your body.
  • Turn off all the devices sweet darlin’, even the old Victrola. Now it’s you just you. Close your eyes. Breathe. Keep breathing. Just breathe.
  • Ask for help. For God’s sake stop trying to do everything yourself You can ask God for help. You can ask a friend. Maybe you’re pulling someone else’s weight. Doing your share and theirs. Stop it!
  • Update your resume. If you’re in a crappy job, start updating your resume. This will give you a chance to reconnect with your accomplishments and get you ready if you need to seek new employment.
  • Make a coffee date. Connect with a friend or colleague. We all need connection. People to talk to. Talking can help us figure things out. I’ll talk about therapy and coaching next. Sometimes venting with a friend or connecting with a colleague can help us find the next step. Sometimes they’ll have great ideas or insights we wouldn’t get to on our own. Sometimes they’ll have leads for employment options, babysitters, real estate agents, whatever it is we might need.
  • Get some exercise. Take a walk, take a hike (not off a short pier). Go for a bike ride. Hit the slopes. Do something physical to get out of your head and to your body that’s been filled with stress hormones a chance to expel that crap.
  • Basic Self Care. Get some sleep, make and go to your doctor’s appointments, and eat some healthy food. When was the last time you ate a fresh vegetable?
  • Don’t indulge in addictive substances. A piece of chocolate is fine, but if you’ve started using wine, marijuana, or junkfood as your main method of reward or coping at the end of the day you’re only adding to your troubles. Instead take a hot bath or shower in the evening to wash the weight of the day off of you.
  • Take off Your f***ing Cape! Stop trying to be Wonder Woman or Superman. I’ll be writing more about this later.
  • Get Support! Make an appointment with a therapist or life coach so you have support. You need support! WE all need support. Get some! Especially if you’re in crisis, depressed, overwhelmed, addicted, heartbroken, suicidal, deeply stuck, conflicted, being abused, totally confused.  Don’t’ try to do it all by yourself.
  • Get a copy of my book It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self.  You need some time to start considering your next move. You can’t change everything overnight. However, once you’ve stabilized yourself, you can start taking steps to take back your life and create it in a way that works for you!

Here’s a link to Psychology Today to help you find a therapist. If you’re in crisis and need to talk to someone now the National Suicide Hotline # is 1-800-273-8255.

“Don’t just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic of your life, make lasting changes that matter!”

Out of the Box Podcast Episode #121 

It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self

Comedian Rosie Tran (@FunnyRosie) Interviews author and clinical psychologist, Davina Kotulski (@drkotulski) about her new book “It’s Never Too Late to Be Yourself.” Davina talks about the importance of being your authentic self. By using our inner voice as a compass, we can live a life full of freedom, love, and authenticity!

Listen to Out Of the Box Podcast Now

It’s a Boy!

It’s a boy!!! Two of them!

This weekend, my girlfriend, Diana, and her two boys (7 and 13), moved in with me.

I’m officially a full-time, part-time co-parent.

The first morning after the boys moved in, the little one told me the toilet was “too small.”

Curious to know what he was talking about, I followed him into the bathroom. He explained that he was going #3 and pee shot out between the seat and the bowl.

“What’s number 3?” you might ask, as I did.

Number 3 is when someone of the male persuasion is seated and goes number 1 and number 2 at the same time. It adds up to 3.

I helped the little guy clean up and saw how small the bowl was compared to the one at his mother’s former house. The bowl there was long and narrow. Who knew? Seriously!

We brainstormed some potential solutions and moved on.

I haven’t lived with a guy since my brother, with the brief exception of Vince who lived in the basement of a house I rented with friends in Portland, I know this will be an interesting turn of events in my life.

I’m excited!

And I was delighted the other night to have one sweet little boy wrapped in a blanket on the floor and the other wrapped in a blanket on the loveseat while my girlfriend and I sipped tea on the sofa, Shrek playing on the TV. It was a fine Saturday night.

This turn of events is just a reminder that it’s never too late to create a life that inspires you. It’s never too late to do something new. Be something new.

That’s why I’m offering my once a year 50% off 3 Sessions Coaching Package so you can get a headstart on your 2019 vision! See the details below.

As the old saying goes, if you can dream it you can be it. Though maybe those are actually lyrics from a song in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “Don’t dream it. Be it!”

Wishing you peace and joy wherever you are and whatever phase of life you’re in. Remember you are loved. If you forget, reach out first and you’ll be reminded.

Sending you an abundance of love this holiday season.

Click here for the special.

3 Session Coaching Package for $299.  Reg. $600

Ends January 1st.

Limit one per person.

The Language of Love and Spiritual Partnership

DavinaKotulski2015-0388_WebRelationships, sometimes we live with them, sometimes we live without them.

We don’t just want a relationship; we want a happy one, a healthy one. We want to feel loved, understood, and cared for and we want our partner to feel loved, understood and cared for. Unfortunately our intention to be good at something doesn’t translate to skill, if it did, a lot of us would be rock stars and rappers, triple lutzers and amazing dancers, and I would personally speak Italian, Spanish, and about three other languages fluently. If we want our intentions to translate to real skill, to effective communication, then we must actually study what improves communication in relationships and then do our homework.

I know I’m starting to get tangential here, so I’m going to bring it back to my point. Couples and individuals come to me all the time for counseling or coaching because their relationships are falling apart and neither partner feels loved or appreciated.  Some of these relationships may truly be dead on the vine for various reasons and remaining in the relationship may not serve the highest good of one or both of the partners, which I will discuss more below. However, some relationships can come back to life with a major love infusion and some ground rules for communication.

CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION

When couples work with me I ask them to get at least one copy of the book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by psychologist John Gottman. I love this book because it outlines right away the communication styles that couples can choose to engage in that will show respect for their spouse/partner and those communication styles that must be changed or the relationship is doomed to fail.

Years ago I wrote about the 4 Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse that Gottman discusses in his book when my own marriage was on the rocks. While that marriage ultimately did not last, my former spouse and me found the book extremely useful and we were able to significantly improve our communication with one another, which gave us several more years to grow together. For other individuals, improved respect and communication may be just what they need to facilitate a conscious uncoupling, which is it’s own form of success in the case of divorce or dissolution.

THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES

Recently I picked up a copy of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Chapman identifies 5 ways people feel loved and communicate love. Each one of us has a primary love language or way we feel most loved by our sweethearts or spouses. When our partners speak our primary love language to us and we speak theirs to them everyone wins! In his words, our love tanks are filled.

The Five Love Languages are:5-love-languages

1. Quality Time

2. Acts of Service

3. Physical Touch

4. Gift Giving

5. Words of Affirmation

Chapman’s book gives several case examples of how common it is for a spouse to communicate their love in one language, but not in the language that the other spouse feels the most loved, which often leaves both partners feeling unappreciated. Of course we don’t just want our lovers to speak one dialect. It’s most romantic when our lovers speak several or all of the love languages to us at some time. Likewise if we want to be fluent in the language of love the more dialects we speak to our lovers the more appreciated they will feel. Chapman includes a quiz in the book to help you identify what your primary love language is and explains how to speak all five.

I’m now recommending this book to all of my clients in relationships, even the same-sex couples I work with, though unfortunately the book never mentions same-sex couples and much to my annoyance uses the clinical term “sexual intercourse” instead of just saying “sex” or “love-making” revealing the author’s conservative background and quite possibly a propensity to be limited to the missionary position. Okay, enough about that.

SPIRITUAL PARTNERSHIP

To be clear, not all relationships will last until death do us part, nor should they.  Some relationships will spring back to life or get out of the marital rapids with improved communication skills and filled love tanks. Yeah for those couples that are willing to do the work, have a new skill set and do ride off into the sunset and live happily-ever-after. Other individuals may have fulfilled their spiritual contracts with one another and find that it’s time to make a new covenant so to speak. This is especially true for conscious people on the spiritual path whose commitment to their spiritual growth and their relationship with God takes precedence over all other commitments. Yes, there are quite a few of us odd ducks out there.

Gary Zukav’s book Spiritual PartnershipThe Seat of the Soul and his book Spiritual Partnership both discuss the importance of being true to one’s spiritual path and explores the notion that some marriages are also spiritual partnerships, while others are not. Some marriages may begin that way but relationship dynamics can change. Additionally, as individuals wake up spiritually they may realize that the marriage is not in alignment with their spiritual growth and unfoldment. For individuals who are on the spiritual path it is better to dissolve a marriage/relationship that stymies one or both partner’s spiritual growth and development, rather than remain in that marriage/relationship if the partners cannot shift the dynamics.

This is not an easy thing to hear and some people might disagree and argue that people should stay married no matter what. Certainly if that’s in alignment with one’s spiritual belief system and their spouse’s beliefs than I would encourage that couple to get lots of support to find a way to make it work. However, if we’re talking about someone putting their belief system on another person’s relationship I would kindly say, “mind your own business.” We can never know what another person’s destiny is, their spiritual path and contracts, or what Spirit has in mind for them. I would invite that judgmental busybody to keep her/his limited human mind and opinions to themselves.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

For those individuals who find themselves at odds with their own value system with regard to their marriage and spiritual path, or really afraid of being judged by being true to themselves by releasing a marriage or relationship that no longer supports their health, well-being, and spiritual growth, I would quote Shakespeare to them “To Thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

I would also advise them to surround themselves with supportive friends and get professional support like a life coach, therapist or spiritual counselor, someone who can help empower them in consciously moving forward in a way that is loving to themselves and to the partner they are uncoupling with.  There are many great resources out there for couples or individuals who want to mindfully/consciously uncouple.

For those of you who are not in a relationship right now but want one or want to find ways to feel loved now or attract more love into your life, Chapman has a book called The 5 Love Languages for Singles and you can also pick up Arielle Ford’s book The Soul Mate Secret about how to clean up the past to make room for your beloved.

If you feel like a relationship is the last thing in the world you want or if you want to be a better lover of yourself (Yeah Baby!)–Check out the transformational book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant. It’s really a great little book about self-love and self-acceptance. It’s really true, you’ve gotta love yourself first.

And speaking of love, have I told you lately how much I love and appreciate you for all the ways you show your love and support to me. When I have my down days, I feel into you my powerful network of friends, clients, students, readers, collaborators, and colleagues who I get to share this journey with. Thank you!!!!

Wishing you all a love-filled, joy-filled 2016!

XOXOX

Davina