Do you ever hear it? That little voice inside you that sometimes whispers and other times screams: “You are meant for moooore!” It’s those work days when you feel like you’ve hit your max limit-it feels unbearable to handle another problem, annoying to talk to anyone else, and physically exhausting to keep going.
Or maybe its those moments you find yourself laying in bed awake thinking “I am not where I should be in life…” which then spirals into mean girl thoughts like: who do I think I am to want it all? And “It’s too late to change the path I am on”
A woman I worked with described it As… “that overwhelming feeling that grips me just at the very second I allow myself to day dream about what it would be like to do work that fills me.”
We all experience it differently but at it’s core, this feeling can have such a devastating affect on women. I’ve see it erode marriages, create distance between women and their kids, and perhaps most devastatingly, break a woman’s belief in herself and her strength.
If this speaks to you, you are one of 51% of the Americans who feel no real connection to their job. It’s a serious problem, and given that in this culture, we strongly connect our value as people, to the work we do, what is this telling us about how valued women feel?
So, what do you do?
In my 12,000+ clinical hours of experience supporting women, this is what I’ve found:
You must Get the courage to take the journey. AND, If you embark on this journey, I will be perfectly honest and say it requires a commitment; one that shows difficult for many women to make- the commitment to yourself.
I will also guarantee that it has the potential to be one of the most beautiful and transforming journeys you will ever take in a lifetime. Before you start, Here are three simple things you can do today, to begin your journey toward living the life you were meant for.
1. Love Yourself. Love yourself enough to take time to rediscover who you are and what you care about. What are your like/dislikes, who inspires you? Also, love yourself enough to quiet that inner mean girl. Would you actually talk to anyone you care about in the same way?
2. Be imperfect. When asked, most women would deny being a perfectionist. Here’s the deal: if you’ve ever felt inadequate, you’ve been a perfectionist. This is because Perfectionism does not make us feel perfect, it makes us feel like we are not enough. Do your best to hold yourself to human, AKA imperfect /flawed expectations.
3. Walk the Walk. It’s all fun and games until our fears take over and we are frozen from taking action towards our dreams. The truth is, if change were so comfortable and easy, we would all have it all! Teach yourself to go against your gut when it comes to fear- if it scares you, you should probably do it anyway.
Take time to do these practices daily to start transforming your life!
My wish for those of you who choose to take this amazing journey is that you surround yourselves with a crew of warriors to support you. Friends, family, other women who are on similar journeys, coaches, therapists and anyone else who can support you. Remember when women support one another, incredible things happen. If you find yourself in a place where you are needing some support, I would love to talk with you!
Val Spiropoulos, LCPC
Val Spiropoulos is a Psychotherapist and partner at The Centered Life; a woman-owned, women specialty counseling practice in Naperville, IL. Val partners with women who know somewhere deep down inside, they are meant for more. She helps them rediscover themselves and walk confidently towards their dreams so that they live a truly fulfilling life.
To learn more about Val Spiropoulos:
As parents, we shower our kids with unconditional love, gifts, words of praise, time and affection. It’s pretty impossible to find a parent out there that doesn’t want their child to know just how amazing, special and loved they really are.
Sometimes, our efforts to show our love may not be received by our kids because our love languages differ. If you have heard of Dr. Chapman’s 5 Love Languages quiz for couples, maybe you aren’t as familiar with the fact that he has also developed Love Languages for kids!
Here is the breakdown of the 5 Love Languages:
1. Physical Touch- Feel loved when they are hugged, kissed, embraced
2. Words of Affirmation- Feel loved when they are acknowledged, and told how special they are
3. Quality Time- Feel loved when people do things with them (play a game/sport)
4. Acts of Service- Feel loved when people do nice things for them life help with chores/responsibilities
5. Gifts – Feel loved when they get a gift or a special surprise that shows them you thought about them
As a therapist, I often witness how love gets lost in translation with children. “My mom always wants to be around me! I just need some space!” This is an excellent example of how mom’s love language is probably quality time and she expresses that to her kids (assuming their primary love language is the same). To a teen whose love language is words of affirmation, this can feel like intrusion and like a barrier to their independence. This is why knowing more about how your child gives and receives love can be such a tool in connecting with them and having a strong bond!
I’ve found this to be an amazing tool for couples and families I work with.
Check out Dr. Chapman’s Love Language Quiz here!
The Centered Life
It is inevitable that at some point in our lives we will be faced with the loss of a loved one. Coping with this loss can be a very challenging, confusing, and isolating time. Each of us has individual ways of grieving.
It is important to know that grief is not linear nor is there a formula. Although there has been much research on grief, our research continues to grow. We do know that individuals can experience many stages of grief: anger, sadness, isolation, guilt, shock, denial, bargaining, acceptance. However, many individuals may not experience all stages and there is also no particular order. Grief does not have a time frame. It is a very unique and individual process.
Working with a therapist can be helpful to process this loss, understand your thoughts and feelings surrounding the loss, navigate through the various stages, along with helping you to establish a “new normal”.
Jennifer Gawlik, LCPC
No more classes. No more papers. No more exams. No more finals. Amazing feeling, right? Definitely, until the anxiety creeps in. Now what am I going to do??
Life after college can be a very, well, awkward time period. Maybe you have moved back home after being away for 4 years. Maybe some of your friends have relocated for a job. Maybe the dynamics within your friend group has changed, things you were interested in no longer interest you, or them. Maybe you are unsure if you want to take time to just breathe, do some traveling. Or maybe you landed a job right after college and you didn’t get that time to just “breathe”. Either way you slice it, you are embarking on a different journey, separate of what you have known for the past four years.
That can be exciting and frightening at the same time. Just know that it is okay to feel lost or unsure. Probably not going to like to hear this, but it is going to take some time to adjust to this new schedule, whether that transition comes smooth or rough for you.
Allow yourself that time to reflect, identify your values, set goals, and most importantly, take time to focus on your self-care. You just accomplished something major!
All my best,
Jennifer Gawlik, LCPC ~ The Centered Life
I challenge you: when in conflict-approach your partner with kindness
One of the most difficult things to do when arguing with your partner is to be kind. Why is it that feelings of defensiveness, anger and blame show their ugly head faster than we can say “hunny you’re pissing me off?”
Time to get honest: Have you ever treated your partner in such a way that you would be embarrassed to tell others?
WHY Do we do this? Why are we so quick to brand our partner as the enemy?
Psychologically, it is because our brains are wired in a way that pain commands our attention far more than pleasure- this is true for emotional pain as well. When we are hurt or angry, our brain picks up on it faster and with more intensity that when we feel pleasant feelings such as joy and happiness.
Basically, its human nature to be more attuned to the negative emotional we experience and be less connected with positive ones- that’s why its so difficult to reframe and change our approach- especially during times of high emotional intensity -like an argument.
What can you do?
- Commit to kindness. It’s more than just a statement-it is an approach to life. Take time to develop this skill and remember you’re human!
- Have hope. When we approach others by giving them the benefit of the doubt, it opens us up to having more clear communication during conflict.
- Interrupt the cycle by saying/doing something out of the ordinary. Try saying “I love you” during a shouting match or reach out and interlock fingers.
Check out this video for 5 tips on how to approach conflict with kindness:
Val Spiropoulos, LCPC ~ The Centered Life
Yes, ladies… I said scheduled! I know some may cringe at the thought of actually scheduling time to spend with your hunny; whatever happened to the “good old days” of staying up until 3AM sharing our deepest thoughts?
Truth bomb: women are busier than ever! We not only care for our children, but also for our aging parents, our homes, our friends and our careers. It’s pretty much a modern day miracle if we can manage to get our roots done in the midst of it all!
Your initial response to this suggestion may be that it feels “forced” or “unromantic”. It makes sense to want that spontaneity that was present in the beginning of your relationship, but equally as important is recognizing and accepting that with time, our romantic bonds evolve and it is crucial for us to evolve along with the changes in our lives.
Here are the facts:
- Research shows Martial stability is improved by shared leisure time together- the opposite is also true-the less quality time spent together is correlated with lowered marital stability.
- spending time together builds greater intimacy and connection: the greater sense of connection we have to our partner, the easier it is to forgive and work through conflict. Have you noticed the more disconnected you feel from your partner, the more likely it is that you hold on to grudges?
- Committing to time spent together prioritizes the relationship above all else. It acknowledges your commitment to strengthen your bond with your partner so that you are resilient in life as a team! It’s you two against the world!(or at least the kids!)
How to start:
- BOOK IT! Commit to a weekly “relationship appointment”- put it in your calendar and prioritize it. You give your doc the 24 hour courtesy rule, be respectful of this commitment you made and don’t double book yourself!
- Make a list of activities before hand- Fill up a jar with “date night in” and “date night out ideas”- pick from the jar so you have something to look forward to all week!
- Let go of expectations and be in the moment – we spend so much of our lives scheduling and planning- when you’re together- practice being present (the spontaneity will find its way- I promise!)
Val Spiropoulos, LCPC