CNM 047: Self-Acceptance, The Solution – with Dr. Charr Chardas

iTunes Button (via NiftyButtons.com)

In my last episode, we began a conversation with Dr. Sharr Chardas all about self-love and self-acceptance. (You can find CNM Episode 46: Self-Acceptance – The Problem here.) But since we ended up talking for a full hour, we decided to break the conversation into two sessions.

So, in today’s episode we’re picking up where we left off. We had been talking all about why some of us tend to end up chasing pain when we really just want love, and then we started to shift into what it looks like to do something about it.

So, here’s the rest of the interview…

Interview with Dr. Sharr Chardas – Part 2

Question: This is the million dollar question, how do we go from A to B and how long does it take? I’m sure that the answer just varies for everybody. But I mean, really, let’s say somebody has an invalidating upbringing – manipulation, control abuse, maybe there’s addiction in the home, they’ve really been scarred, and they’re chasing after the pain instead of real ‘love.’ Let’s say they become aware of this and they want to start doing something about it. What are some of the things you have them do, and how long does it take to start actually feeling and seeing results from that?

I know this is an in-depth question that I’m asking you here, but what does the whole landscape of going from A to B look like? What kind of effort does it take? How hard is it? How long should someone realistically expect before they’re ready to open themselves up to healthy relationships for the long-term?

Sharr: Well, long complicated question, very, very simple answer to that.

How long do you want it to take? Are you willing to work at this process?

It really depends on the individual. There is no right, there is no wrong.

Some people come into my office that one would think it will take years for them given their background and what they’re dealing with. Realistically, within a dramatically short amount of time, they begin to realize, to see the change, and to begin to live it. There are others that come in that are very resistant to themselves, then afford the therapy, and therefore change. There is no time limit.

It would be beautiful – and I guarantee you, I would love this – to be able to say, ‘It will take you six months or it will take you a year or two.’ It really depends on the individual. How much do you want this? How hard are you willing to work at just liking yourself? Let alone trusting and loving yourself? Let’s start there.

I give my clients assignments outside of positive affirmations, journaling, and keeping a dream journal. Being self-aware is the keynote here. Again, if you’d say to a person, ‘Oh, six months,’ remember we’re dealing with self-sabotaging people here that are passive aggressive. ‘Okay, Doc says it’s six months, so for six months, I won’t do anything, just to prove him wrong. I’m going to control!’ No. It’s really up to the individual. How long do you want it to take? That’s really up to you. Here’s the answer – one second longer than you want it to. There’s your answer and that is an honest and straight forward answer.

Brian: Okay. Fair answer. We want the truth.

Question: Let’s say somebody says, ‘Yes, I am ready to do this. Let’s go,’ you mentioned that there are some assignments that you give people on this journey. I specifically think I heard journaling and affirmations, what all types of things have you found that are effective for people on this journey?

Sharr: We’ll add a little bit to the last question in answering this question.

One of the things that is amazing about therapy – and I can only speak for my own practice – is individuals are coming to my office and they’ll say…

“Doc, I’ve been coming here a year now and I’m just wondering how much longer I should keep coming?”

 I go, “Wait a minute. First of all, you haven’t been coming here a year.”

“Oh, yeah. I have, I’ve been coming since xyz date…”

Don’t quote me on this but there’s 8,866 some hours in a year… I go, “Yeah. Take out your calculator if you want, and multiply those hours by your age.  You say you’ve been coming here for a year, have you noticed that you (have been improving)…”

“Well of course, Doc, that’s why I keep coming. This is great. I’m seeing a fantastic change.”

“Here’s the caveat it hasn’t been a year. We have fifty-two weeks in the year. The average number of attendance for therapy – because of holidays; birthdays, Lord knows what else, is about thirty-seven hours a year. You have seen change in less time than the average blue-collar worker sees in a forty-hour week. Think about that. Now compare that to the reinforcements of thousands upon thousands of hours. You’re doing incredibly well.”

“Well, how did we reach that goal?”

“First of all, you were here every week. You listen, you were open with me, your therapist. Also, I’ve made you recordings,”

(One of the things I do is utilize hypnosis which is a wonderful tool for accelerating this process. I will actually record for individuals, what I like to call a ‘confidence tape’, and people absolutely love it.

I’ve been making these for decades, and till this day, I have some people that live on the other side of the world, but they will still come back and ask for another one because theirs is worn out now.)

Hypnosis really accelerates the process of change. With hypnosis, like high meditation, we literally bypass all of that imprintation and all of the clothing that we put on. We kind of strip ourselves naked and we see, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not the horrible green-troll monster I made myself out to be.’ That confidence rises up within us just like the sun rises at dawn, getting higher, brighter every second of everyday that we live. They love listening to that recording. It’s like a fifteen to twenty minute recording. They can listen to it as often as they can stomach my voice, that’s what I tell them.

If they walk in, I say, “Hey, have you been listening to the recording that I made you?”

They may say, “You know, Doc, yeah, I just have enough time. I think I listened to it once or twice this week.”

I immediately sit back and say, “This is going to take you some time, isn’t it? You’re not really dedicating yourself here, are you? But that’s okay. It’s your choice. This is your life, not mine. If you’d listen on that tape every day or at least two times a day, we could accelerate the process.”

The other thing that goal oriented people want to accelerate the process (the ones that don’t, God bless them, that’s their choice) is positive affirmations. There is a series of affirmations that I suggest to people that they write. It takes twenty-one times to create a habit and it takes twenty-one times to break a habit. That isn’t necessarily true but we’re talking in macroscopic terms here for the sake of the broadcast.

One of the things I have individuals do is take twenty-one pieces of paper. Each day, they are to take one of those pages and write on it, ‘I am worthy’ or ‘I am confident.’ The worthy or the confident is determined not only by myself but by my patient. If they continue and do that every single day for twenty-one days, twenty-one times per day, they’re going to literally reprogram their brain.

It’s no surprise to discover that when they walk in and I say, “Did you do your twenty-one things for twenty-one days?”

They say, “No, Doc. I missed the first couple of days, and then skipped a couple more, etc.”

They don’t have success because they (the days) have to be done back-to-back.” You can’t have a day or two days off, or a week off and then pick it up again, no. It’s like, ‘Gee, I want to go to the gym and look like the Incredible Hulk. I think I’ll go to the gym and workout every other week.’ You ain’t going to do anything. Don’t even bother. If you’re not in that gym five days a week, pumping iron, you ain’t going anywhere.

It’s like dieting on occasion. That’s really going to be, ‘Oh, help me. Once in a while (I eat right), the rest of the time it’s McDonald’s, then…’ No, there has to be consistency.

The other thing that I ask them to do is at the end of the day – and to me this is one of the most important along with the dream journaling – to sit down and pick up your journal book. (You have three different books, one is for your affirmations, but this is for your journal.)

Now, when you come in the session, I don’t want to hear from your journal whether or not you went to the grocery store or picked up your laundry. At the end of the day, stop, and begin to review the day. What occurrence made you feel how?’ In other words, ‘It’s really interesting. I went to the grocery store today and for some reason, the woman at the checkout didn’t really say too much or do too much. But when I walked away from that store, I felt like crap, I felt miserable,’ or ‘It was really odd. I was sitting there in Starbucks and a woman walked up to me and just said, ‘Thank you,’ or whatever and I feel great.’ What occurred at that market? What did that woman say or do? What does she reminds you of that made you walk out of that store feeling like that?

It wasn’t about the woman, it was an association. When did you feel like that before? If you question a person, they’ll stop and think about and go, ‘Oh, my God, Doc, you’re right. I used to feel like that a lot in school when I was a kid. Jeez, wow.’ This makes the person self-aware, not only what makes him feel less than during the day but also what makes them feel worthy and happy during the day.

Even if your listeners aren’t in therapy, just that aspect of self-awareness is important. You have to ask yourself this question at the end of the day.

For example, you go home and you’re feeling miserable because your girlfriend or your boyfriend keeps making you feel like crap and you go, ‘Oh, my girlfriend insulted me yet again today and made me feel bad…’ The logical question is why do you stay with them? ‘Oh, never thought of that.’ It backs the person up and makes them look at themselves and therefore the situation that they’re in.

Keeping a record of their dreams is also important provided that they’re in therapy and with a therapist. We’ll talk about dreams in another episode of your podcast if you’d like. But dreams are very important. They wouldn’t really do much for the individual. Most individuals misinterpret their dreams constantly unless they are in therapy with the therapist. I can’t imagine a good therapist not being interested in a person’s dream because dreams relatively reflect our own awareness. Again, if I get into dream analysis and different types of dreams, we’ll have your listeners here until four o’clock in the morning (laughs).

Does that kind of round up that question as well?

Brian: Yeah. That’s a great answer. Surprise, surprise, I have a short follow up question though.

Questions: Talking about tools to help people overcome this self-love deficit, if you will, I wonder, between all these tools – and I’m sure the answer is probably different depending on the situation – which of these do you feel like are really impactful? Maybe you could even rank them  if it’s appropriate.

What major things are being left out of this shortlist: I heard journaling, affirmations, dream journaling, and hypnosis.

Something we didn’t talk about just now but I know that you’re very familiar with is mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. If you were going to rank these like, ‘These things are the most important things to do or, you’re just blatantly missing this important tool,’ what would you have to say about that?

Sharr: Interestingly enough, if I had to choose one of those as being most important – and this will also come with the qualification of why I’m saying this – I would choose journaling. Part of the problem that we have as human beings is without a sensei, a therapist, or someone outside of ourselves, the human brain – ninety percent, the subconscious – will basically take the same behavior and really doesn’t mind changing that behavior as long as the outcome is the same.

Part of the problem is we tend to think that we’re fixing it but all we’re doing is taking this big gray elephant and we’re painting it a different color. The example I use for this is – and I’ll visualize this – I’m sitting in my office. A patient walks in, they sit down, I say, ‘What can I do for you? What are you here about?’

They go, ‘Doc, I was listening to Brian’s podcast, you said you were pretty good but you didn’t notice that when I came in, I brought with me this huge gray elephant behind me?’ Meaning yeah that’s the neurosis, that’s the issue metaphorically, the gray elephant.

I look at them, I look at the elephant and say, ‘Yeah, but maybe you like pet elephants, I don’t know. You have a right to do whatever you want.’

‘Doc, I don’t want this elephant anymore.’

‘Why?’

‘It stinks, it eats too much. My God, I can’t fit in the car half the time, I want to get rid of it.’

‘I can definitely help you do that but it’s going to take some work, the dedication on your part, self-discipline. Will you allow yourself those things?’ They go, ‘Absolutely, Doc. Whatever it takes, I want this thing out of here.’

Very soon into the therapy, they walk in the door all grinny, a big ear to ear grin. They plop their butt down the chair. They go, ‘Doc, why don’t you congratulate me?’

I go, ‘For what?’

‘Doc, again, you probably didn’t notice because it’s so wonderful, I’ve been here probably four to five times and I’ve fixed my problems.’

‘What do you mean you fixed your problem?’

‘Doc, you didn’t notice? I no longer have a gray elephant behind me.’

I look at it and go, ‘Yeah, did you know you have a red elephant behind you now?’

They look at you and go, ‘Doc, have you ever in your life seen a red elephant?’

I go, ‘No.’

‘Then it isn’t an elephant, is it?’

It’s the same issue. They take out a paintbrush.

I go, ‘Be careful, the paint’s still wet, it’s going to drip on you.’

Most people will go through all the primary colors on that elephant. Why? The subconscious brain, from zero to eight, once it hit about eight years of age, has taken that neurotic input and has modified it so it is socially and religiously acceptable and sociable.

Someone might say, ‘Well, what do you mean by that, Doc?’

The example – when I was teaching my students, I would say, “Look, zero to eight, let’s say from five years old to eight years old, this is the defense mechanism, this is the reaction – the kid throws himself on the floor, beats their fist and mommy and daddy would give in to them.

Now, they’re in first grade, they try the same tactic and the kids around them, instead of responding like mommy and daddy, they laugh, they point and say, ‘Oh, you’re a big baby, you’re acting stupid.’ The little boy/little girl stands up, the subconscious says, ‘Wait a minute, we need a new response to this now to get what we want. We want to get our way. What should we do?’

The individual says as they stand up to themselves, ‘Let’s try punching them and see what happens.’ The kid stands up and starts punching them. And the kid might find that works until he gets into high school and gets to the ‘bejeebers’ kicked out of him. Then he goes to passive aggressive or whatever it might be.”

We keep modifying as long as the outcome is the same, as long as we’re miserable and in pain, that’s all the subconscious cares about. Why? That’s what it knows. One of these times, I would love to do a podcast with you on the function of the subconscious brain which people do not understand.

Dream journaling is irrelevant for anyone listening to this unless, as I said, they are in session with a very good therapist who’s very good at dream analysis, because it’s our own brain talking to us.

The vast majority of people are simply going to go, ‘Wow,’ and paint their old elephant a different color and claim they have a new one. It’s the same one, it’s the same thing until the person realizes that. They actually go through a series of primary colors, then they go into camouflage, then they go into Trompe-l’œil – which is a French term meaning to trick the eye; it looks like it’s this but it’s actually that.

But at some point, Brian, they figure it out. ‘I don’t want this elephant anymore, that’s what I came here for.’

Now, you got the idea.

It’s really unwise, it goes back to the old saying of, “Physician, heal thyself.” I don’t know too many medical doctors that give themselves operations. They usually go to their colleagues and say, ‘Hey, I think I’ve got ruptured appendix,’ or ‘I need this or that done.’ They don’t sit there and try to do it themselves. Yet we, as human beings go, ‘Gee, I could read this psychology book and therefore I can fix myself.’ How are you going to do that? Prostitution is not the oldest profession. Those women needed somebody to talk to.

Brian: That’s funny.

This is fascinating. Definitely we could go on all day, I mean, for sure, I know I could. It sounded like there were some possibly good opportunities to talk again which I would love to do.

Question: When it comes to self-love here, if we could distill it down, is there anything else that you would want to share on this topic of self-love or any related fringe topics that we’ve been talking about now before we wrap up this conversation?

Sharr: To benefit your listeners, which is what we both want here, brother, more than anything; to help others to help themselves. What I would recommend is go back to the basics. Keep it simple. We, as human beings, try to make everything complex, and it doesn’t have to be.

Let’s go back to the way we started this show; self-liking, self-trusting, self-loving. Sit down, anyone listening to this, and ask yourself these simple questions, again; do I like myself? After the resounding cheer of, ‘Yes, I’m perfect. I’m wonderful,’ fades away and the reality sets in, ‘Okay, obviously I don’t like myself. Why don’t I like myself?’ Again, as I mentioned earlier in the program, ‘What was it that I would have given anything to hear from my family, my mother, father, brothers, sisters, and the people around me?’ That I am a good person and I’m worthy and lovable.’

Or begin to say the things you’ve always wanted to hear, to yourself. Visualize, imagine, just pretend, and think about, ‘Here I am at six years old or eight years old, I was so hungry, so desperate for mom, for dad to look at me and say, ‘I love you, son,’ ‘I love you, daughter.’ No one ever says that to me. I’ve been spending my life working for it and I just realized, I never say it to myself.’ That is without question, in my opinion, without doubt, the place for any person to start self-awareness, self-love, self-seeking, liking, trusting, loving.

Brian: Absolutely. I would love to ask a tag along question to that.

I am a skeptic at heart and I consider that a strength of mine because what that means is I want to get to the best answer, the best information out there . I believe in this stuff, but I want to unturn every stone so that people along the journey can come to some understanding and some real confidence in the information that they get. I would be regretful if I didn’t ask this question because I’ve heard this objection from quite a few people…

Question: What would you say to the person who says, ‘Oh, I’ve tried affirmations, that doesn’t work for me?’

Sharr: Simply put, ‘Oh, I went to the gym to develop my muscles but that doesn’t work for me.’ ‘Oh, I tried that diet but that doesn’t work for me.’ In other words, they haven’t tried anything, that’s the problem. In my office, ‘try’ is a dirty word. You’re either going to do it or you’re not.

Just for your listeners with a little psychological tidbit – if you’re having a party, and you invite your friends and your friend says, ‘Oh, yeah, Brian, I’ll try to be there,’ ninety percent of the time, they won’t. If they say to you, ‘Yes, I’m really going to attempt to be there. It might be difficult, Brian. I got to do this and that, but I’m really going to attempt to be there,’ they’ll probably show up.

I actually have people come to my office for the consultation. I will say to the person that has referred them, ‘Oh, thank you for referring (this person), but I’ve never heard back to follow up and get them here for the first session. I sent them emails and everything else. Did they mention to you why they haven’t responded? I hope they at least got another therapist if I wasn’t right for them.’ And this is what I hear often in thirty years of therapy, it’s almost hysterical – They will ride around and tell all of their friends, ‘Oh, I tried therapy, it doesn’t work for me.’ They did, they’re not lying. They tried it – once! …in a consultation, until they found out they had to do something, until they had to discipline themselves.

Remember, we live in a world right now where we’ve got soundbites. Everything is a quick fix. We’ve got fast food, fast this, fast that, faster internet, faster television. People don’t want to dedicate the time to themselves to actually do it. It’s much easier to go, ‘Oh, that doesn’t work for me. I tried it once.’ Can you imagine where we’d be in this world if, the first time we got in a car, we said, ‘Oh, well, I can’t do this. I tried driving, that doesn’t work for me.’ Anything we do once isn’t going to work. But it’s a great excuse to avoid ‘self’ and maintain a bad behavior. ‘Oh, I can’t lose weight, I tried that diet once,’ same principle.

Brian: Okay, thank you for answering that. I appreciate it. My very last question for you is something I like to ask each guest and that is;

Question: What would be your biggest piece of advice for a codependent person?

Sharr: Get help. If you’re unable to budget one-on-one therapy, which is obviously your best, try Co-Dependents Anonymous. Please, it’s very important. The codependent cannot do it on their own. Like we said, all they’re going to do is paint the elephant a different color. It takes a support group to help that codependent individual realize what’s going on, either a support group of Co-Dependents Anonymous or a good therapist. But you’re not going to cure a toothache on your own; you’re going to have to see a dentist. You’re not going to fix codependency by reading a book or, with deep respect, even listening to a podcast like this; you’ve got to do the work.

We, as human beings, are pack animals. If you look at higher primates, chimpanzees for example, it kind of mirrors what we have. The noble chimps; we have the egotist in life, they have that. They have the alpha, the beta, and yes, they even have what you might call a shaman, therapist, witch doctor, and psychologist that goes around and tries to fix everything in a practical way.

I won’t say it’s impossible, nothing’s impossible. In fact, don’t quote me on the actual person, but I think it was a French philosopher, but the quote is definitely correct, “All things are impossible until they occur.” Without doubt, anything can happen. Let’s just put it this way, these years that I’ve been in this profession, I’ve never seen anyone fix themselves, but I’m certain it can occur.

Brian: Excellent. Dr. C, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing the expertise with us. I found value out of it. I think the audience will as well. I think I’d also like to take you up on your offer to talk about some different subjects, if that’s still on the table.

Sharr: Absolutely, Brian. I would be honored for you, perhaps that I don’t know if there are particular topics that your listeners would like. Maybe they could write into your program, get in touch with you just like the individual who wrote that question but writing directly to you about different topics that you and I may cover on your podcast.

Brian: Absolutely.

Sharr: If they would like to contact me personally, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to give them my email address. I would ask you, dear friend, if they don’t get that for any reason, of course, if they didn’t listen to your podcast, they can get that contact with you. Let me give you, if I may, my email address, it is sharrchardas@gmail.com. I can also give them a number as well; (747) 444-9108.

Brian: Very good. Thank you for sharing that, and I will also be sharing that on the show notes page as well.

Thanks again, Dr. C for being on the show, I can’t say how much we appreciate it and we’ll look forward to connecting again in the future.

Sharr: Absolutely, dear friend, without question, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I pray that it was a benefit to your listeners.

Items Mentioned In This Episode:

  • Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDa)
  • sharrchardas@gmail.com (Dr. Sharr Chardas’ email)
  • (747) 444-9108 (Dr. Sharr Chardas’ phone number)

We Want To Hear From YOU!

What did you learn? What questions do you have? Would you like to have Dr. C. on the show again? If so, what would you like me to ask him? Comment below!

4 Comments
  1. Hi! I really enjoyed this episode. I tried finding a CODA group in my area and there is none. Do you know if there’s anything similar online? Maybe like a Skype CODA?

    Also, I would love to hear Dr. C speak more about dream journals.

    Thanks again for this podcast.

  2. I absolutely loved this episode. The Dr was so amazing and truly spoke to me a adult child of alcoholics.
    I wrote down his email and ph# so that I can be further inspired by him.
    Question: I think my status as an ACOAs has truly hurt my adult children. Even though I do not drink or use drugs and there has never been hitting in my home I think they are truly affected as adults. How can I make sure I am changing what I need to change so that my adult children can feel inspired too ?
    Note: My daughter is 25 and my son is 19 and they do not live with me. ( I am an empty-nester and not liking it 🙂 )
    Thank you
    Danielle

  3. I would love to hear more about dream journaling! How can I find a therapist who specializes in dream analysis?