Today we’d like to introduce you to Sladja Redner.
Hi Sladja, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I’m excited to share my story with you! I was born and raised in a small village in Serbia, the former Yugoslavia. A shining light in my life was my mom and her optimism. She sparked in me the love of reading, dreaming of a brighter future, and deep conversations while watching The Oprah Show on our black and white TV. Through the most difficult times, my mom made me believe that no matter what circumstances we are born into, we get to create our own opportunities. This optimistic narrative is what instilled an unwavering belief that I can transcend any hurdles and choose who I become. Once I launched into adulthood, I was faced with a harsh reality that this was much easier said than done.
When I was about 19, I left my childhood home in my village and moved to a bigger city seeking fulfillment. I worked dead-end jobs and was envious of my friends who attended college and moved towards what seemed like a bright future. At 22, my resume included one half-heartedly completed year of college, many drunken nights, and a few waitressing jobs. I was tired, broke, lost, and anxious, and had nothing to show for. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was selling myself short and that there must have been more for me out there. One night a friend told me that he was going to work on a cruise ship. I immediately knew that was my chance to leave my country and see what else is out there. I pursued this opportunity and worked on a cruise ship for several years. I traveled to many different countries, saw incredible places, and met people from around the world. But after a while, I felt ready to settle down and was called to do more with my life. I always dreamed of visiting the U.S. although I had no specific plan on how I’m going to make it happen. The year before I moved here, I wrote down in my journal that in a year, I will be in the U.S. studying psychology.
During, what I decided will be my last contract, I met my then boyfriend, now husband. He was discussing his move to Austin, Texas (he is from Michigan) as he was accepted in the graduate program at UT as a jazz performance major. During a random lunch in Italy, we made a spur of a moment decision to move to Austin at the same time and see how it goes. Here we are, ten years later! I finished my Associate’s degree in psychology at Austin Community College, then transferred to UT, where I graduated from with high honors. In my final year at UT, I knew that a Master’s degree in professional counseling would be the needed path to becoming a therapist, and that’s what I did. I graduated from Texas State University and now work as a psychotherapist and life coach.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Obstacles and hurdles are a part of a full and rich human experience, and for anyone moving through life with goals and dreams on their mind, bumps in the road are inevitable. And, it’s what makes for great stories one day! With moving to a new country, I came across many practical obstacles. From adjusting to a totally different culture and lifestyle to entering college at 27 in a second language, financial burdens, navigating the road of becoming a U.S. citizen, and going to graduate school… But I must say that many of those practical hurdles have a clear way of being navigated through. The more difficult obstacles are the ones created by the mind.
Fear, insecurity, anxiety, nostalgia, grief, feelings of unworthiness, not belonging, etc. Many of those obstacles presented themselves each time a new goal came to the forefront. No one taught me how to challenge my own thinking patterns, how to overcome the self-sabotage and being stuck in a cycle of repeating thoughts that lead to nowhere. Luckily, I saw these obstacles as challenges, and I knew that if I confront them, there will be something wonderfully rewarding on the other side. And there was. Each time I was face to face with my fears, I became more courageous and more of myself. I believe that this curiosity to understand myself and willingness to self-reflect, combined with my love of learning, motivated me to overcome my own mental blocks and seek new growth opportunities in each challenge.
We’ve been impressed with Inner Becoming, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My main motivation in life has always been fulfillment and meaning. Doing work that energizes me and gives me purpose is something that I naturally follow, both in my personal and professional life. In my practice, I offer online psychotherapy and coaching. In my work as a psychotherapist, I specialize in working with those who experienced developmental trauma, difficult childhood experiences, and childhood emotional neglect. This includes almost all of us on some level. As children, we adapt in ways that help us navigate our family dynamics and circumstances, but in adulthood, these adaptations become our constrictions. Underneath those adaptations is our unique, true self, waiting to be welcomed.
In my coaching practice, I work with those who are eager to move onto that next step of inner transformation and change. I’m passionate about helping new – and first-generation professionals overcome impostor syndrome and master their mindset so they can accomplish their goals and feel confident and deserving of an abundant, fulfilled life. Also, I love helping those wanting to create healthy habits and lifestyle changes that will support their wellbeing long term. These two areas combine my main passions, striving for professional and personal fulfillment.
I do my best to rely on curiosity and to model authenticity, courage, and personal freedom. Seeing each individual as a unique person shaped by their unique circumstances is one of the values I hold highly.
My overall goal, whether doing psychotherapy or coaching, is to support an individual in understanding themselves on a deeper level and removing the obstacles (and adaptations) to being their most authentic, true selves. Seeking to explore my own inner world and discovering who I truly was, I created a “Returning to Yourself” e-book / guided journal. This journal is for anyone wanting to get to know themselves and gain more awareness of the beliefs that are guiding them. For anyone interested in self-knowledge and reflection, you can read more about the journal on my website.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
A few things come to mind. The first one I want to share is what I wish I learned earlier in life. It is to rely on myself for answers and decisions. Many of us learn from a young age to look outside of ourselves for answers, to not trust our intuition, to rely on the wisdom of others, to trust that others know better. But ultimately, we need to follow our own wisdom and make authentic decisions. What helped me with this was creating a practice of tuning out the noise and listening to what matters to me. When presented with a decision, I ask myself “does this feel true to me?” and “is this decision based on ego, fear, or a true desire?”
The second bit of advice is knowing what motivates you. There are no right or wrong answers here. Whether it’s a higher goal or a mission, knowing what motivates you will sustain you through the difficulties and challenges.
The third is faith and believe in oneself. This is crucial when things are not going smoothly and when there is no evidence pointing towards success. Something that helped me, and still does, is writing motivational notes to myself that I read when I struggle or when my belief and motivation wanes.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://www.innerbecoming.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inner_becoming/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SladjaRedner
- Other: https://www.innerbecoming.com/store/p3/journal.html