Everyone goes through traumatic experiences, some are aware of it while some are not. Being held captive by your mind can be one of the wiriest chains to shatter. Cheryl Hunter, a master coach and bestselling author, helps people overcome trauma and live more empowered lives. Recounting her traumatic experience back in France, Cheryl uncovers the psychology behind post-traumatic stress disorder and touches on the kind of trauma that people are unconscious of. A firm believer that no matter where we are on the spectrum of trauma, our response to it is the same, she gives away the secret weapon in redeeming yourself after losing parts of you. Also, learn about how she gives back with her series called Rise.

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Dealing With PTSD And Knowing Your Way Out Of A Captive Mind with Cheryl Hunter

Sean, do you know what’s been challenging for me? It’s understanding you and understanding what it’s like to be in the brain and body of Sean Entin because I’m not a type of person who can ever understand any of what you’ve been through. No one’s going to know what it’s like to go through a stroke more than someone who’s been through it.

There are doctors out there, there are healers out there and there are coaches out there who seem to know a lot more about the trauma or stroke or whatever we’ve been through. Unless you’ve been through the traumatic event yourself, you don’t know a lot and you can’t possibly even understand it. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a heart attack unless I ask Scott Mehlman who had a heart attack. I had a stroke. Cheryl Hunter has been through much in her life. She’s such a profound speaker, networker, a journalist and on the air with CNN. She created her own show called RISE. I learned from her because she’s been through it and she’s successful at it. Her beauty is in her soul and is in her mind. That’s what I look for. I look forward to talking to people who’ve been there. Like you Taylor, if you want to learn to run a marathon who are you going to talk to? You can read a book or you can talk to someone who ran them.

I’m going to go start running. The points you were making was either go have the life experience or talk to someone who has been through it and let them be the voice for their story. Our guest, Cheryl Hunter, not only does she have her own life experience of overcoming tremendous trauma and wisdom on how to walk people through the healing process. She does have this deep insight into walking people through the healing process. She also recognizes that she can only share so much from her own experience and she created the show called RISE, which is in alignment with what we do. We share other people’s stories who are the experts on their own life experience. Sean Entin, he’s an expert on having a stroke and coming back. Scott Mehlman, he’s an expert on having a heart attack. As we bring in these people who have lived the life experience are the experts on how to come back from them because they understand not just physically what’s happening. They understand mentally, emotionally and the feelings that come up and how to come back from that.

Let’s learn from the people who walk in their own shoes and learn from them. She’s done TED Talks. She does speaking all over and she’s awesome.

If you read about Cheryl and you feel like, “This has had a tremendous impact on me,” and you know someone you love who might need to hear what Cheryl has to say, please share this episode. These episodes are only as valuable as the people who are able to read them. We’re only five people trying to build this community and share all of these episodes. The more help and support we have in sharing these and getting the word out there, the more impact we’re going to be able to have. The more people who are going to be able to find the resources they need to help themselves heal. Please share this with someone who needs to read what Cheryl has to say because she has a lot to say. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the podcast on iTunes, leave us a review. Let us know what you love about the show, become a part of our community, help spreading, sharing all these stories and all this incredible information we have to help people heal in the world. Thank you and enjoy the episode.

Welcome to the show, Cheryl. How are you doing?

I am happy to speak with you. I’m doing well. How are you?

I’m excellent.

I’m excited. I’ve got my hero on our show. Cheryl Hunter is my hero and someone who I look up to all the time.

Thank you.

For all our audience, will you let them know who are you and what do you do?

I am a coach. I’ve been doing it long enough that I’m truly a master coach, speaker and author. I help people overcome adversity and trauma in their lives so that they can go on, get unstuck and live the lives that they were born to live.

How did you come into this line of work? Did you start there? Was there some evolution to get to being this master coach? You don’t become a master coach overnight.

Do you know how life leads us on these crazy, winding, circuitous paths sometimes?

What does that mean?

It means you’re not always going from A to B in a straight line. Sometimes you’re getting from A to B like a river winds through the canyon.

Oftentimes in life, we become an expert in something that we never set out to be an expert in and that’s how I became an expert in overcoming trauma, and an expert in resilience was through my own journey. I am originally a cowgirl from the mountains of Colorado, a small town. It was heaven growing up on a horse ranch there. As the years went by and I became a teenager, I thought, “Get me out of here. I want to go to where there are people.” We were so far removed from other people, from our horse ranch there was literally no other signs of civilization.

Where in Colorado?

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It’s on the edge of the San Isabel National Forest and outside of a town called Rye.

I grew up in Telluride. That’s the only reason I’m going there.

San Isabel National Forest is the largest of all the national forests in the state and it’s super remote. No real big towns of any kind nearby between Trinidad and Pueblo, west of there high in the Rockies and super remote. It was heaven and I love returning there now. As a teenager, I did want to go places where there were people I wasn’t related to by blood, where anything other than boot cut Wranglers. It was like the city was calling and I had to go. I rounded up my best friend and I had this plan like, “I’m going to figure out a way. We’re going to go away and I’ll figure out a way to stay.” I’d seen some article in Glamour magazine about how they were always looking for models and I thought, “That’s something. I’m tall enough.” I was on the boys’ basketball team which was probably more a function of being from such a small town but I was gone anyway. I was like, “I want to do this. Where do they need models? Europe.” I talked to my best friend into going with me. We got Eurail passes and like two wide-eyed teenagers took off.

How old were you?

I was eighteen. No sooner did we get to France then a man with a camera around his neck walked up, a big fancy looking camera and said, “Are you a model? I can make you one.” I thought, “Who is better than me? It’s that easy to become a model in France.” My friend said, “Absolutely not, over my dead body.” She wanted to go back home afterward. She didn’t have an aspiration to get out and live in the big city. I ditched her. In retrospect, I even say these words and it’s like, “What?” As a teenager, I thought, “I’m smart. I’ll figure it out. Maybe this isn’t the best idea.” Nobody could argue that there’s no modeling going on in the San Isabel National Forest of Colorado. This would be a bona fide reason to have to stay in the city so I went with him. It doesn’t take a lot of deductive reasoning to figure out that they weren’t photographers. They were criminals. They took me for a glass of wine which I was like, “No, I want to shoot the photos.” They said, “Don’t be a stupid American. Have a glass of wine.” It was drugged and that was that. I’ll let you fill in the gory details with your own mind. It’s a little hairy.

You can share with us if you’re okay with it.

The next thing I knew I was driving in a car and it reminded me of one of our dogs. I had my head out the window, my tongue was out and I was drooling. I came to and my head was lying out. I could see in the sky and I was like, “This is not good.” I was young and naive throughout the whole process. They took me to a construction site that was empty for whatever reason. It was abandoned and it was dark inside, the sound of flapping plastic sheets over the windows, exposed walls. I kept saying when I would come to and they would bring me something to drink and that was it. “When are we going to take the photos?” I kept saying.

We’ve all seen the hairy movies or crime stories or something. I’ve seen their faces. They’re going to kill me. That was it I thought. I started talking to them. I was talking about my little brother having problems in high school and that they were going to hold him back for a year. Why I was talking about all this, I don’t know. There wasn’t a strategy for it. I was uncomfortable. I didn’t know what else to do but talk. I don’t know if it humanized me, I have no idea. I’ve gone through this over the years. I’ve talked to law enforcement since and tried to figure out what was it they were taking me for. Was it some sex ring or something? That’s what it’s supposed but for whatever reason they let me go and dumped me days later in this park in Nice.

I’m not going to go into all this stuff that happened when they held me. It’s two men and me. You can connect the dots there. They pushed me out of the car and then said, “Darling,” and I looked up. I was lying in a heap and then click. They finally snapped the photos. Afterward, I was free, physically speaking but the honest thing happened which is I then felt captive. Once I was free, it made no sense. I’m free. I should be happy like all those stories you hear of people who get some do-over in life, some second chance. They’re like, “I realize every day’s a gift and now I’m happy.” No, absolutely not.

AIH 42 | Captive Mind Captive Mind: Everybody faces circumstances and adversity they would never have chosen. It’s part of the game of life.


I was in hell, I was captive to my mind and I had no idea how to get out. I had never faced anything like that. There were a few things going on in my mind. I could never tell anybody what had happened. If I did, they would know that I was ruined, dirty, damaged, stupid and gullible. If I told anyone then my parents would make me come back home. I couldn’t imagine rotting out the rest of my life on a horse ranch in the mountains with nobody to see, nothing is going on and no one to talk to. I decided to hold it in and I did that for years. I realized I had to figure out a way out of hell or I was not going to make it.

Thank you for sharing that story. I know sometimes stories like this are hard to share but you’ve done this for a while. If you had to describe in your words looking back on it, what was it that had put your mind in the state of hell? It’s probably holding back but if you had to describe the mindset and how you feel trapped even though you were let free so that people can understand the psychology of it.

On my path out of hell, clawing my way out of hell as I like to refer to it at the time. The psychology of it was I was left alone with my own thoughts. Why did I? Those would have, should have and could have scenarios. “If I only said this, if I only ran here, if I only did this, if I only didn’t drink that freaking Sauvignon Blanc,” all these things, those crazy-making endless thought loops that I couldn’t get free from. If I only didn’t do that then I would be okay, then this wouldn’t have happened.

I call that the if/then statement. If you live like that, if I live like that, then I wouldn’t be walking. I want to make a statement on that because we can get caught up in our past. As you and I both know, our past does not represent our present or the future.

It seemed like it at the time. At the time, all there was I’m ruined. My life is ruined and somehow, I need to escape but there’s no escaping the captivity of my own mind and all those endless thoughts. I thought, “I’ve got to figure out something,” and yet it was incumbent upon me to figure it out because I wasn’t telling anyone what I’d dealt with. I thought a couple of things. I am not the only person to ever have gone through hardship and other people have got it way worse than I have. People went through the Holocaust or have had children killed. There’s way worst. I thought, “I’m going to start talking to these people and find people who’ve through hell, have made it back and figure out why.” Everybody faces circumstances they would never have chosen. Everybody faces adversity. It’s part of the game of life, not everybody recovers.

It’s called being a human. Anyone reading this, Cheryl is not only a master coach but she has been frequently on CNN as a guest or as a host. You’ve been on TEDx.

I do a lot of commentary on news stories. They call me in.

You are humble but because of what happened to you, you become this well-known celebrity that’s helping people who can’t speak, speak for themselves and I want to thank you for that.

For a long time, I had no voice. I vowed to myself that when I finally felt okay to speak, I was going to speak on behalf of all those who couldn’t. I get called onto the news quite a bit to speak in cases where there’s been somebody, a victim. I don’t refer to myself as that or even them but that’s how they call it on the news. There’s a crime with a victim.

Oftentimes in life, we become an expert in something that we never set out to be an expert in. Click To Tweet

We started calling them warriors on our show.

I saw you on a TEDx in Santa Monica which was breathtaking as well. You get around, you speak. I know you’re a coach and as you call yourself. I look at you and you inspire many people, and you speak, and you talk to us. I want to thank you for that.

Thank you, Sean. I’m a coach because it’s the popular term but I codified my own journey out of hell and also started then beta testing. I created an educational framework to help others do the same. I started beta testing it and doing longitudinal analysis. I’ve been doing this for decades. I’m a Sherpa out of hell.

Anyone out there that don’t know what it does mean, a Sherpa is someone who will guide you at Mount Everest and bring you back down in a sense. You’ve climbed Mountain Everest and you’ve come back down which is amazing. She literally has gone up that high and come back down to base camp and said, “I did that already once. I’m good. Let’s talk about it.”

Cheryl, for a while you didn’t talk, and you started having conversations with people who had been through hell and back. What did you start to learn by having conversations with these types of people?

It’s an interesting context in which I did it. Initially, I told my mom, “I’m depressed.” She goes, “Do you mean bored?” Some people don’t experience depression. She wasn’t quite sure what I meant, and I had never said why. She said some version of, “There’s always somebody who’s been there and even had it worse. You might look to see how you could provide something for them.” It was a profound gift for her to say that. It triggered something in me. At first, I thought, “I’m young. I’ve got no future. I’m screwed up in the head. Who’s worse than that?” I thought, “Old have no future and screwed up in the head. They got it worse.” I started volunteering at old age homes. There were a lot of people who were Holocaust survivors. God bless, this was in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles many years ago. I had several people that I was assigned to and I would sit and ask.

It’s interesting like two people sitting next to each other at lunch. Both had gone through this unthinkable situation, yet one was happy and the other one wasn’t. I wanted to figure out why. I started asking a lot of questions like, “How come you’re happy? What have you dealt with?” The most rudimentary of questions initially, but I started learning that it was like Dr. Viktor Frankl said, “It’s not what happens to us. It’s where we go from there. It’s how we respond and how we react.” I started asking these people, “How is it that you react? How is it that you have responded to what’s happened to you?” Both the people that fared well and those that didn’t. “What was it that you found the most helpful? How is it you viewed what occurred to you? Were you able to forgive?” The interesting juxtaposition was I was talking to these people and then my grandpa was a war vet. It’s like, “I had been in Korea,” and I started talking to war vets, Vietnam, Korea, Gulf War, “What did you learn?”

9/11, when that happened, “What were you able to take away?” I had first responders and people that had lost a lot of family members and started interviewing people with the intent to figure out what worked and what didn’t work. I applied it to myself. Some things I found helpful, some things I didn’t and then I started giving it away to people as my first beta testers. The interesting juxtaposition was I was giving these things from people, codifying their journey and codifying my own. My mom was somebody who had been a teacher in K12 education, gone on later to be Central Office admin, then a Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Superintendent and all these things for school districts.

Ultimately, she ended up as a university professor teaching teachers. She knew everything about creating curricula. I was like, “I want to teach this. How do I put this together?” She would teach me all about how to do that. Doing it for myself wasn’t enough but what I found I was creating this education so others could get through it. That gave me the motivation going through. You asked me a question, Taylor, about this captivity of the mind. One of the things I learned on my journey out of hell was I didn’t feel captive post-trauma because I’d been physically captive. At first, I thought that’s what it was, but no. What I learned is that when each of us suffers something traumatic, we have that same experience of being held captive to our mind afterward. The if/then questions that resonate and won’t let us go, so I thought, “I’m going to crack the code on this for everybody.”

AIH 42 | Captive Mind Captive Mind: It’s not what happens to us. It’s where we go from there, how we respond and react.


The veterans, the people who’ve been through the war, I had a handful of friends before my injury in San Diego, mostly the Marines, the SEALs, the Rangers. Going through what I went through, how would you compare what you went through or how do you advise the war vets? Those are the guys I want to help because they give their life to protect our kids, our country, they come back dismantled and it hurts me.

I feel the same way and in no way mean to diminish anything there. What I want to say first is, it’s part of being a human to experience circumstances that are bigger than we know how to deal with. Sometimes that happens with horrendous things like somebody who’s a war vet. Sometimes it happens in development in childhood where we face something that in retrospect may not seem traumatic but it’s traumatic at the time. It’s bigger than we have the skill set to deal with then. What I find is that no matter where we are on the spectrum of trauma, our response to it is the same. The brain steps in to protect us with this maladaptive survival mechanism.

It leaves us captive, trapped and stuck. Our method of responding is the same but fortunately, our method to recovering post-trauma I’ve found is also similar. Here is one of the biggest problems once we’ve faced trauma. There’s this phenomenon that happens, which is we lose ourselves when we face trauma. It’s as though when we face a trauma unconsciously, there’s this occurrence that happens after the trauma. It’s as though we look at the part of ourselves that we blame for getting us in the situation in the first place and we sequester it, splinter off from that part of ourselves then kill it off.

In essence, we repress that part of our self that we don’t like because it got us into that situation.

It could be, “Why did I sign up for this war in the first place? Why did I voluntarily go? Why was I naive to think I could?” Any number of interpretations but we look at it, we repress that part. We splinter off from it, we break it off, we kill it, we leave it for dead. The problem is we emerge into the future of feeling like we lost ourselves. We don’t know who we’ve become. We’ve lost our spark or lost the best part of ourselves. We look in the mirror and like, “Who is this person? Where did I go? Where was that love of life that I had, that excitement, that willingness to trust that vulnerability, whatever it was that we killed off?” It’s as though we’re operating now at a fraction of our power and we don’t understand why. My dad loved to work on cars and he taught me all about cars. I realized for myself it’s as though we’re an eight-cylinder car and then post-trauma, it’s like we end up losing the race in life in any context to four-cylinder cars which are blowing by us.

How is it that those people are able to be happy, successful, accomplish what they want or have a great relationship? I’m hobbled and I can’t. It’s because we’re operating on two cylinders. When we leave part of ourselves in the past, we suppress it, we kill it off, whatever which happens when we’ve experienced trauma. We’re unable to operate fully in life on all cylinders. Understand where you lost yourself. In the work I do with people, we have what we call the secret weapon. Our secret weapon is what we call R3. It stands for Reclaim, Resurrect and Reintegrate. What I’m talking about Reclaiming, Resurrecting and Reintegrating is the part of yourself that you left behind when you experienced trauma so that you can truly come home to yourself.

How do we start to find those pieces and know what we’re trying to Reclaim, Resurrect and Reintegrate?

Understand where you lost yourself. Go back, get out the Sherlock Holmes microscope and a little hat, and go take a walk down memory lane and get, “Where have I lost myself? When did I stop being me?” It can be one traumatic event, where we splintered off from ourselves, killed that part of ourselves and it can be subsequent ones that follow in a similar thing. It’s taking a walk down memory lane and saying, “Where did that happen?”

Most people don’t want to go there, the vulnerable place. The place of being all naked, the place of being fully exposed is tough for anybody especially these veterans who have been built into these mercenaries and they come back with PTSD. How do you then begin to take that apart? Twenty-six a day are killing themselves.

There’s always somebody who's been there and has even had it worse. Click To Tweet

Here’s how I began to take it apart. This is the conundrum of all of it and it’s a paradox. If we don’t look at all that big steaming pile of mess from the past, the paradox is it’s got us by the throat every day. It’s like the Carl Jung quote which says, “What you resist persists.” It holds us by the throat. It’s that experience we have. We can’t breathe, we can’t speak, we’re not ourselves if we don’t go back and look at it. It’s the not looking at it and not staring it down face-to-face that’s messed us up. It has us captive until we’re willing to look at in the eye and say, “That’s where it happened. That’s where I lost myself.”

I know everyone’s been through some level of trauma in their life but what about people where it’s not as obvious? How do they start to connect with, “Here’s an event in my life that happened to me but I never associated it as traumatic, but maybe it was?” How does someone in that situation start to take the Sherlock Holmes approach to their life and say, “Maybe that was traumatic?”

That’s a familiar thing that people bring to me, Taylor, that they’re stuck in the present day. That’s where to start. Are you stuck in the present day? Is there some area where I call it my education captive? You’re captive, you’re trapped and stuck. There’s something intractable going on. I want this but I can’t have it because of that. We start with, “Are you stuck in the present day?” and then we go spelunking through the caves of the past. Not to become fascinated with it, all respects to psychotherapy, but we don’t want to talk about it and hang around in the past. I’ve got no interest in the past. Only in as much as we can go back there and reclaim yourself, that’s it. Where I would start is, “Are they trapped, stuck and captive in some regard in the past? Is there something they want but they can’t have it?” Let’s go see where and why you lost yourself.

Here’s a pitfall. Oftentimes people say, “I know why I am overweight and I compulsively overeat. It’s because my mom whooped my butt in the supermarket when I was six.” What I mean is we think that because we know some incident that occurred that that’s the holy grail. That’s the booby prize. Knowing it and fixing it or 180 degrees apart. To answer your question, I would start by looking. Is there any stuckness in the present moment? If there is, go take a walk down memory lane, see where you lost yourself and then use the secret weapon to Reclaim, Resurrect and Reintegrate yourself. I can tell you some more about the secret weapon, what I mean by that and how we use it.

When I was in my own personal hell and not talking to anybody, I would read anything I could get my hands on. I’m going to have this symbiotic relationship with the universe whereby if somebody recommends a book, I’m reading it. If somebody tells me a program, therapist, course, seminar and audiobook, that’s it. I’m doing it. Somebody at one point I heard something about quantum theory and I went down this rabbit hole of, “This is amazing.” One of the coolest things I learned studying quantum theory is that the assertion that these people were making is there’s no such thing as linear time. All moments of time are simultaneously occurring in this moment of now. I read a quote by Popular Science magazine saying there was no such thing as time. Time is an illusion and I’m like, “I’m no quantum theorist. I know nothing about that other than what I’ve been deducing and studying.” Let’s say these guys are on to something. I’m going to take advantage of quantum theory and say, “Fine. In this moment of now, I’m going to go back and reclaim myself that was splintered off.” I also found that at the moment of trauma, it’s not the trauma that we suffer.

There’s this one-two punch, which occurs which is the trauma that is bigger than we can know how to deal with at the time. There’s an unmet need that we have at that time period. The unmet need serves to be the fuel in the tank that perpetuates this maladaptive survival mechanism which keeps recreating the same event moving forward. That’s why people have flashbacks. It’s why people can’t seem to get out of a hole. I keep choosing the same abusive partner, I keep reliving the trauma every day. There’s this maladaptive survival response that’s there. We use the secret weapon and in this moment of now you go back in time, you reclaim your former self and give your former self what you needed at the moment you experienced trauma so that you quit needing to seek it now. When you’re there, you reclaim yourself, resurrect that part of yourself that you killed off, and then your job moving forward is to reintegrate that self into who you are now. This stops that maladaptive survival mechanism and puts it at ease so it can stop replicating the past trauma in your life.

Can you give us an anecdotal example of this either taking place in your life? Maybe someone you know about or have worked with to put the theory into a story?

I would like to give you one more piece that is essential. People come to me oftentimes saying that one of the reasons they’re stuck is they keep reliving the past, like those replicating traumas. It’s left them with an experience in the present of fighting ghosts. Meaning they’re having battles that are living out that worst case scenario from the trauma they faced in the past. We’re fighting battles that we can’t ever win because the battle itself took place years ago. That’s not to say that the situations we face in our lives aren’t real, they are. The actual battle that we’re fighting took place long ago. It’s like that battle we’re trying to fight, that fighting with ghosts coupled with the unmet need that fuels this replication of the past trauma over and over again. We keep going, “My boss is jerky,” or “I keep having flashbacks,” or “I keep choosing the bad mate for me,” or “I keep being broke no matter what I do.”

Do you know how they talk about 89% of lottery winners going broke in the first year or something, that’s why because we’re fighting battles from the past? We end up being hobbled in this compensation mode trying to make up for something and right a wrong from the past. The nature of compensation is the more that we seek something, the less of it we have. If the unmet need had to do with self-worth, you’re seeking self-worth and validation now, the act of seeking self-worth makes you feel worthless. For example, desperately seeking love, will do anything to do it, you end up feeling completely unlovable and it’s not our fault. This all happens underneath the level of our conscious awareness. We keep hoping it will turn out differently this time. It’s not that we learned some bad habit or some self-defeating behavior. Our self-conscious is deliberately trying to recreate the same scenario throughout our life because it reasons that was the worst case stuff we could ever have imagined and yet we survived it. Let’s keep surviving the same thing forever more.

AIH 42 | Captive Mind Captive Mind: The unmet need serves to be the fuel in the tank that perpetuates this maladaptive survival mechanism which keeps recreating the same event moving forward.


We know a lot of people who have stroke, brain injuries who are paralyzed and everything you’re saying I get. You had been through some of the same work, the coaching and the class work we’ve done. How do we tell these people who had been through a stroke or brain injury and is paralyzed, “It’s okay to get up and move?” We created a mantra of, “I can. I shall. I will.” How would you coach me is what I’m asking?

Are you feeling stuck right now in any area?

Yes, on my weak side, on my paralyzed side.

What I’m talking about here isn’t about what is going on physiologically, although a lot of people have a physiological impact of their past trauma replicating forward. A lot of my clients have, for example, anxiety, digestive issues or it manifests physically. Your physical issue had a physiological component rather than a component that was based on mental or emotional trauma.

However, I believe that my stroke was not caused from a stroke but it was self-induced. I was running hard and fast that I’m emotionally messed up that something was going to happen to me. I realize that even though it was the carotid artery that was tore and severed, I think emotionally, deep down inside I had something to do with this.

I have a client who did a public interview with me where she had cancer. She was clear that it came from being abused by her priest as a child. She knew at the time it was wrong for her but she liked the attention and she said, “I’ve been upset with myself for decades and I know I manifested this.” For her, she said, “I don’t mean that like an end to my life. I now realize if I manifested it, I can easily unmanifest it.” That was when we first started working together. She’s in remission. To your point, I have to tell you, you wouldn’t be the first of people that I’ve worked with that have had some physical manifestation were, “I need to take a break. I’ve got to figure out some way to do it.” I wrote a case study about someone named Helen in my first book USE IT: Turn Setbacks into Success because she did the same exact thing. She had cancer and she said, “I know this is because I’ve been saying for years I need a break and I won’t give myself one.” Is that something that you had dealt with, Sean, where you said, “I need to stop,” but you wouldn’t allow yourself?

I didn’t know how to stop. I was constantly going and proving to the universe or myself that I can make X amount of money until I had X amount of money, I’m not going to be loved or until I was that good of a person. In the height of everything happening in my career, I went down.

Where would you say, if we’re forever on the search for love, then that compensatory way of searching it like post whatever the incident was that occurred. The act of compensation makes us have less of it then we started out with. If it was like, “I need X amount of money in order to be loved,” then the nature of compensation is the more we seek, the less of it we have. In other words, no matter how much money you made, it never would be enough to make you feel loved.

It was enough a lot at the time, but it wasn’t enough.

When each of us suffers something traumatic, we have that same experience of being held captive to our mind afterward. Click To Tweet

That’s what I do with people every day.

My interpretation of what you’re saying too, Cheryl, is if you’re seeking something subconsciously, whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s a part of you that is working from a place of lack. If you’re seeking something subconsciously, that’s saying like, “I don’t have this and I need it.” It speaks to those unmet needs.

It’s because it’s happening, as a survival response, it’s run by your survival brain and that’s a lot of what we do our work on is bringing all of those unconscious processes of the survival brain to conscious awareness. We start to become aware of that unconscious drive to make up for the lack in the past, that fighting with ghosts. It’s the lack’s not happening but it happened in the past, therefore I am operating at a deficit. No matter what we do, we’ll never fill up that tank as long as it’s happening underneath the level of conscious awareness, where it’s an unconscious drive to make up for a perceived lack that doesn’t even exist per se. The real lack was at that moment of the original trauma in the past. There’s nothing more common than you hear about a massive world celebrity who ends up killing themselves, God forbid. I say that with true compassion because this is the work I do with people every day but because they didn’t feel loved. There are a billion people across the world who, I love you, but they didn’t experience it. They were in that survival response trying to get it but always felt like it left them at a deficit, at a lack.

The way you walked us through this and explained it. It sounds simple and in that simplicity is where the revelations happen. I was having an a-ha moment, lost in thought not because you’re boring but quite the opposite because you’re profound.

Something I got out of this too is accepting who you are at this moment in time and being good with it.

It beats the hell out of beating yourself up.

I was the king of that and I’m learning on this journey with this show, to let go of some of it because it doesn’t work.

It works for what it works for. It works as part of that survival mechanism. It adds fuel to the tank in replicating the past. It’s part of that which holds it all together. If we were loving and compassionate toward ourselves, part of it would start to fall apart. The component pieces would fall apart. If we are filled with animosity, anger or disdain for ourselves and the choices we made way back when we didn’t know any better, even if the trauma happened fairly recently, we still had a different skill set than we have. If we’re filled with anger and upset at ourselves, it keeps replicating the past incident. We have to survive it over and over again.

Where my mind went was the word forgiveness. You probably do a ton of work with forgiveness. There was one point in my life, where I went all in on meditation for a month. I do a lot of meditation, but I was doing two or three hours a day for a month. The whole first week was of forgiveness. I went through from my earliest childhood memory to present day for a week. Anything that came up, I sat in it and said, “I’m going to forgive whoever was involved at that moment and I’m going to forgive myself,” and honestly I didn’t know what I was doing at the moment. In hindsight, I came to realize that the whole forgiveness process has nothing to do with anyone but yourself because the forgiveness process you do it to set yourself free.

AIH 42 | Captive Mind Captive Mind: Each one of us has something unique that speaks to us on our own path. It’s only by hearing it expressed in someone else’s story that we can hear ourselves and what then becomes available to us moving forward.


It’s to unchain yourself from the shackles or paralyzed oneself.

Often, I hear people misunderstand that. I can’t condone what they’ve done. That would be saying it’s okay. That’s not the point even remotely.

Cheryl, let’s share with us your new show or the show that you had me on as a guest, which is brilliant. I shared with you that it gravitated towards my father and what you did with RISE. Can you maybe share with the audience what you’re doing, and the podcast that’s coming up?

I’m on my own journey. One of the things that kept me alive was hearing inspiring stories of people who had triumphed over their challenges and adversity from the past. I thought, “I’m going to put together an interview series of people doing that.” I created a series called RISE and thank you for being one of the interview subjects. It was particularly wonderful. It’s online on my website, CherylHunter.com/RISE. We did it on video and there are twelve episodes of people with different stories. What’s in common is they have overcome some big challenge, and they have gone on to pay it forward in a way that’s meaningful to them.

There’s no right way to pay it forward, but whether it’s someone who lost all of her family members, they were all educators, and she quit. She was a reality show producer in Hollywood, and she decided what would honor her lost family members is to go be an educator herself. Someone who is helping young girls around the world not have their lives be over because their menstrual cycle begins. It’s different people that are inspiring to watch. I’ve released all twelve episodes. We were blessed to be featured in Forbes and on CNN’s Headline News. I’m going to start doing a regular podcast of that, now that all of the twelve video episodes are complete and we’re in that. I’ve started pre-interviewing people for that.

Everything that you’re doing is in alignment with what we’re doing, the way honestly we like to look at the world is everyone has a story to share and through sharing their story can inspire someone. We came up with a mission question, our producer Gloria came up with it. It was, “How does your life inspire others?” It’s starting to look at life through the lens of, “How is my life inspiring? How is my life profound?” Everybody has a gift to give.

Each one of us has something unique that speaks to us on our own path. It’s only by hearing it expressed in someone else’s story that we can hear ourselves. What then becomes available to us moving forward? Is it even a possibility? Is it even possible for me to overcome? The moment we hear someone else share their story, we hear not their lives but ours. It’s a profound gift.

When Cheryl does launch her podcast, we’re going to promote it. We’re going to share it. We’re going to get our guests on her show because she is brilliant. We love you and you know that.

Thank you.

What you resist persists. Click To Tweet

We love you, Cheryl. What’s your inspiration?

I’m going to give you a quote. I’ll paraphrase it as best as I remember it. My mom taught me this notion. There’s a book from a book called Letters To A Young Poet, and I remember my mom read it to me when I was young. It’s by Rilke who’s a famous poet. It’s been many years since I read it. The young poet would reach out and like, “How do I be a great poet? What do I say? How do I say the words? How do I put it all together?” Rilke would write back and say, “It’s not about the answers. It’s about the questions.” Living in the answer is this finite closed possibility. There’s not much in an answer. It’s all wrapped up. If you get into the questions, you delve into them and you live them, that will give you an entirely new life. I’m obviously taking creative license in how I’m recreating this, but what I was left with is in terms of inspiration because I found out that truly it was my lifeline at the time. I wanted to live the question like an inquiry about inspiration. As whatever is occurring in life, I’ll ask myself the question, “What’s inspiring about this? What’s inspiring here? What’s inspiring with this person? What’s inspiring with this conversation? What’s inspiring about this day?” It leaves me in a place of opening and inquiry is supposed to shutdown answer and that’s what I’m trying to do courtesy of my mom. Live the question now.

I’m reading a book called Questions Are The Answer and it’s all about how if we ask better questions we open ourselves up to possibility. Will you let people please Cheryl know where they can find you, connect with you if they need to work with you because you have so much to offer.

My website has everything there is CherylHunter.com. On my website, I want to point out the stuff I was talking about using the secret weapon and stop fighting with ghosts. I’ve put it all into a free online class and you could find it right here at CherylHunter.com right there when you land on the site. It will say, “Take the online class,” and it’s designed to be a great use of your time and recreate all that we’ve spoken about in a logical and coherent way so that it can make a difference for you.

Thank you so much, Cheryl.

Thanks, Cheryl.

It’s my pleasure.

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About Cheryl Hunter

AIH 42 | Captive MindCheryl Hunter is a master coach and bestselling author who helps people change the direction of their lives.

Cheryl has coached and led programs worldwide to a quarter million people over the past twenty years, helping those people learn to be successful, self-confident, and happy, no matter what comes their way.

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