Cheri’s Personal Story

I get it… I’ve been there…

If you knew me fifteen years ago… you might not have recognized me ~ and you most definitely would not have believed that I was a therapist!

The truth: I was a super stress case.

My techniques for reducing stress, harnessing habits and living a happier life,  grew right out of my own experience. I had a long history of taking on work, hobbies and interests full speed ahead as they appealed to me and with absolutely no system or execution plan whatsoever. I was really a mess trying to run a business, work full-time and keep up with my day to day hassles. Of course, I was also interested in being healthy, having a social life and spending time with my family. And during all of this, which frankly isn’t that much more than most of us manage, I was also touring, recording and performing with an Atlanta pop rock band. Once I got engaged and added planning a wedding to the action, it was all just too much!

In psychiatry, versus other medical disciplines, we don’t treat illnesses, we treat symptoms. And mine were out of control. Misdirected energy, lost ideas, loads of unfinished business, incessant worry about getting things done, chronic insomnia, and a short fuse were wearing me down. Dreams and goals were just making me feel bad as I just couldn’t find any more room in my life.

Before I opened up my own private practice ten years ago, I worked exclusively in the area of chronic mental illness. This experience has left me with a very special place in my heart for someone suffering from schizophrenia. One of the most amazing things that I noticed from these particular clients is their unwavering desire to be normal; not extraordinary, not special or unique in any way…just wanting to be like the rest of us. This was so profound for me. It got me thinking about what “normal” means.

“Normal” for my early clients, usually meant living independently, getting a job and perhaps, even finding a partner. However, for the rest of us, for whom these basics of “normal” are already met, the question becomes more complicated. I began to wonder if you could make anything “normal” simply by making sure you’re doing it, trying it, and making it a part of your day to day living. Wouldn’t this make the most extraordinary, life “normal” and therefore way less stressful and fulfilling in the end?

Cheri with Dr. Wayne Dyer, Considered the “Father of Motivation,” having authored over 30 self-help books

I believe the reason why we have occasional pondering thoughts, desires and yearnings to learn or try something new, is because our true self is trying to speak to us. Who you truly are…organized, thoughtful, healthy, creative, reliable, learned, bright…is trying to come out of you and trying to shine. It wouldn’t bother you so much if it wasn’t a part of who you innately are…Your current thoughts may be shooing that part of you away, and eventually will weigh you down so heavily, it will shut down any new desires altogether.

Personally, I just couldn’t ignore my mind anymore. I needed a way to take the energy and little motivation that I had and get it focused…keep it going. I was lucky enough to be able to “hear” my true self tell me some idea of who I needed to be, so how could I ignore it? I even got better at listening to myself…my true self, as distinguished from the incessant mind chatter. Even the most trivial, “I would like to get up earlier in the morning,” seemed as if it needed attention for some reason. I couldn’t imagine having regret in my life, but it seemed inevitable. I wanted my life to be filled with it all. But how could I possibly fit it all in?

People close to me noticed my unwavering motivation, knew of my study and background in therapy and psychology, and wanted me to help them get and stay motivated too. I began to assess where it all came from and how it stayed with me most of the time. I watched how people with whom I interacted would respond to my motivation in life and want it to rub off on them. It was certainly teachable, and as I worked with my clients and tried to explain systematically, where the “go power” came from, I discovered some challenges of my own.

For example, even though I liked how lack of focus fed my creativity, I couldn’t stand that it simultaneously battled my productivity. Furthermore, although I felt motivated, it seemed it was taking more energy and more time for me to accomplish things. Plus, my motivation wasn’t always consistent. Why was that? How could I get all of my good ideas and energy more focused and redirected so they would work for me? Detours and unfinished ideas left me spinning like a top. I didn’t want to live like this, but although I knew what to change, I simply didn’t know how to change.

I am a social worker and therapist by trade, so I am essentially a change agent. And although mental health workers are very good at determining what you need to change in order to make your life better, no matter where or how hard I looked, the hows always seemed to be left out of the equation.

When I opened my private practice ten years ago, I noticed that my clients were a lot like me. They wanted to change, they knew specifically what they wanted to change but they just didn’t know where to start. I became obsessed with motivation and how it works. I was intrigued by the brain science behind it all. How can we make change habitual? If we want it so bad, why is it so hard? Can it be easy? Can anyone learn how to change for good? Can it be fun??

The answer? Yes. Change itself can become habitual and fun! Who knew??

One of the ways that life gets way easier and change becomes far more attainable is when you can accept that what is “normal” for me, may not be normal for someone else. And, not only is this ok, it’s perfect. You are YOU, after all. This shift honors who you truly are and who you can become, rather than trying to fit in, emulate someone else or follow what someone else has deemed as the right path for you. Then you can begin to assess your “symptoms” and see if they can in fact, be assets on your own personal journey.

Once I took this new approach, I was so much more helpful to my clients and in turn, I was able to experience growth, awareness and progress in my own life.

The focus became getting whatever they wanted to do and whoever they wanted to be into their life with regularity. When my clients begin to change successfully, things started to make some sense.

It seems that getting motivated comes relatively easy for most of us…but it’s staying motivated that is so difficult.

When we get inspired, we think we are motivated rather than just inspired. However, inspiration can come from just about anything…a documentary, an excited friend, a budding flower…Unless there is some movement, however, some action of some sort, it quickly fizzles out. Therefore, staying motivated was based on a key insight, one that a part of me knew all along: Motivation always comes after action. This realization opened up a world of opportunity. I began to help my clients stay motivated, keep it up and be focused.

Motivation, like any powerful force, needs the right kind of management and I had none. While I kept on busy, stressed and disorganized, my family and friends regularly expressed their worry and concern that stress would take its toll. I just didn’t get it. I kept on and on. I had a horrible time letting colleagues and business partners help me. I was sick so much more often, but still I didn’t see the truth. I just thought I was a bit sickly at times, that’s all. I still had no idea it was because I didn’t know how to manage stress. And I was a therapist!

I finally came down with a life threatening illness that was 100% attributable to stress. I was doing everything I ever wanted, but I was just beating my body up over it. I was forced to consider stress reduction practice as a part of my life – or it was sure to be short-lived.

Options available to me to alleviate stress were unimaginable to me. I couldn’t imagine myself as one of those people. All I could think was…breathing exercises, calmness, yoga, meditation…um, have you met me? I’m on the go, working it out, and on top of the world! That other stuff is not me. I didn’t realize that these practices would end up being the gift of a lifetime.

I was about to be so much more; but without having to do more. Strangely, it was by doing less!

The simple solution on how to get the most out of motivation, stay focused and be productive was habits.

I began to teach my clients all about what I was learning about motivation and habit formation. You can hold onto motivation, and then carry it with you wherever you go and in whatever you want to accomplish, simply by honoring how your brain works and  successfully creating new, healthy habits. I was doing it myself…but it took a real eye opener to realize that I was going to have to create even more new habits…habits to keep me healthy and ultimately, alive.

Healthy habits, and the research behind them, were my savior. I learned to perpetuate what I wanted in my life with the development of healthy habits. We don’t have to focus so much on our habitual behaviors. They just come… they just are…if you can actively create them on your own, you’re not stressed out about what you wish you were doing or how to stay motivated anymore.

Think about it. You don’t stress over or ruminate about your habits. Your normal behaviors are just are a part of who you are, something that you do without ever thinking about it…and thus, the runner just runs and the healthy eater just eats…no worries, no stress, just going about your normal day. What wonderful news for me and you! Stress reduction can be habit forming!

Many of us know exactly what we need to do to make ourselves healthier or happier. The problem is that we simply can’t find the motivation, time or the stamina to keep it up.

I hear it all the time: “I want to exercise more,” “I want to eat right,” “I want to write a book,” “I want a new job,” “I want to try yoga.” The list is endless. Some of us have no idea but for some reason, we just feel unfulfilled. Making things worse, because we assume implementing change or newness in our lives will cause us too much stress or will just be too hard, we give up the whole idea of change.

Yes, change can be stressful, but it can be wonderful. I can show you the simple, life changing-difference.

I think the combination of sustaining motivation, stress reduction work and creating healthy habits is the magical formula to making your dreams come true, no matter what they are. You can work on all of your goals, big or small, without sacrificing your health and well-being. It’s a matter of learning the process of habit development while nurturing your true self.

There is nothing wrong with you. You’re perfect just the way you are…it’s just time to see who that is exactly, who you can be, what you want to do, and where your potential lies. I want to help you uncover it.

When you are working on exactly what you want to achieve, life is so much easier and pleasurable. You are an amazing power when you are living at the level of your utmost performance…healthy, productive, and bringing your dreams to life. You deserve this!  It’s so much more fun to “work,” to play, and to live, without having life take a toll on your body.

I can show you how.  I’ve been there…

Now, let’s pick up some new habits! Believe me, it’s time.

Much Love and Light to You,

Cheri with Krishna Das, the “Rockstar of Yoga,” Kirtan Musician and Grammy nominee

Cheri with Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishing and World Renowned Author

Listen to Cheri Sing About Her Personal Journey

Joy(by 13 Stories)

What Cheri Believes is True of Every One of Us…

Meet Psyche!

The Stress Therapy Dog

The meaning of Psyche:
In Greek mythology, Psyche was the Greek Goddess of the Soul. In psychology, the psyche is the center of thought, feeling, and motivation, consciously and unconsciously directing the body’s reactions to its social and physical environment.

Psyche is an Australian Labradoodle. She was born on October 16th, 2015. She is hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed a bit!

Psyche comes to work with Cheri on most days. She is very friendly and fun to pet and cuddle. Psyche is still just a puppy. Although she is actively working on her social skills, don’t be surprised if she barks a bit when you come to visit! Psyche is a little young to begin Therapy Dog training but she hopes to attend as soon as she is able.

If you are uncomfortable around dogs for any reason, just let Cheri know before your scheduled session and Psyche will get the day off.

Click Here to Read About Cheri’s Philosophy