We are joined today by my dear friend, Sara Arey, author of the boldly titled book, The Universe Fucking Loves Me (isn’t that name fantastic?!). Sara coaches people on replacing their STUFF – Stuck Thoughts Unresolved Feelings and Fears – with limitless ideas for what’s possible (she calls this Refuturing). When we get better at playing that inner game, it will certainly seem like the proverbial universe delivers on its part of the bargain! Sara’s message will resonate for LeaderShifters seeking tools for resilience and productive mindsets for tackling big challenges.
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Episode 27: Refuturing your STUFF with Sara Arey
Shani: Hey, Leadershifters it’s Shani. Welcome back to another episode of the Leadershift Show. We are blessed to have on the show today, a dear friend of mine, Sara Arey. Say hello.
Sara: Hi, there.
Shani: You guys, Sara is incredible. One of the reasons I wanted to have her on my show today is she is one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met and does such a great job in her own life and with her clients of helping people shift to a healthier mindset. You know I’m all about in the Leadershift Project, what are all the various shifts that we need to make? Sure, some of them are in strategy and execution and a lot of them are shifts that need to take place up here in the know game.
Sara is an expert in this as well as the author of a book whose title, I’m going have to say I’m jealous of because it’s so bold that it’s like a title I might have put on one of my books, but she’s got it first. The book is called The Universe Fucking Loves Me.
Welcome to the show, Sara.
Sara: Thanks for having me, Shani.
Shani: Give people just a quick sense of what your background was and how you got to the point where you were a coach followed by an author.
Sara: For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in consciousness and, “Why are we here? What is all this about?” Because I felt there was something more than what I was seeing and being told about. When my aunt introduced to Reiki in 1990, I was like, “Oh, that sounds interesting.” I’ve always just jumped into things that felt they would be extensive, even though I didn’t always have that vocabulary.
Shani: Let’s pause for a second before you continue. For my viewers and listeners who don’t know what Reiki is, please give us a 30-second explanation?
Sara: Reiki is an energy healing technique or system that emerged out of Japan. Reiki is Japanese for universal life energy. It uses the universal energy conducted through somebody who has had Reiki initiation to benefit whoever they’re currently working on.
Shani: Great. Super. I can tell you guys, Leadershifters, I have had Reiki done to me and it can be extremely powerful. I had one session. I know it sounds a little like woo-woo, energy work, how can that possibly work? I’m telling you that– I’m just going to share one personal experience with you. Some negative shit had happened in my life and I got Reiki and I literally was vomiting for a couple of hours when I was finished with the Reiki because it helped release some of the toxins that, of course, I generated here in my mind and with my emotions that were being stored in my body.
It’s more of an eastern way to help address the mind-body connections. Anyway, you learned Reiki and? Take us forward to the coaching.
Sara: And did things like, somebody told me about Landmark Forum, which is all about raising awareness and consciousness. I did their next event that was three days later. As I kept playing with all these things, I was introduced to a technique, an energy healing technique called TAT, Tapas Acupressure Technique. This was years later after I had already had kids and gone through several different phases of what I was doing in the world. When I learned about TAT, it’s along the lines of, if you’ve heard of EFT Tapping?
Shani: Yes, I have.
Sara: It falls among the category of energy psychology. It’s great for working with traumas, with allergies that can be mindset, emotional, physical, so many of these things.
My first daughter was born three months early and weighed two pounds and my second daughter was born a little bit earlier than that and died the next day. It feels like an infection.
Shani: I know. I’m so sorry.
Sara: In my healing from that, a new friend introduced me to TAT and did some sessions with me. I was really intrigued by it and the effect that I could feel from it. A few years later, when the woman who developed the technique, Tapas Fleming, came to town to a workshop, my friend said, “You really got to be there.” I jumped on board. At the end of the workshop, she asked if anybody wanted to help her with her business. My friend and I both raised our hands and I became her education director helping her develop an international certification program.
I had really steeped in that modality more than any of the others I had done before and worked with hundreds of people using it. After about eight or nine years, I decided I wanted to focus on my business, signed up with business coach, Christine Kane, who has a company, Uplevel you. It’s a fabulous business coaching company. I signed up for a year-long program and six months in, Christine called me out of the blue and said, “Would you be interested in doing what you do with all my clients?” I was like, “Let me think about that.” [laughs]
Shani: “Yes.” [chuckles]
Sara: Exactly. Here I was with the– Newly focusing on my business and she had realized that she could give people all this strategy in the world, and if fears and doubts and limiting beliefs were keeping them from taking action, nothing was going to happen.
Shani: Right. In your business, and I may be screwing up exactly how it’s phrased, but focuses on what you call refuturing. Yes?
Shani: Tell us what refuturing means to you and how do you describe it to prospective clients who maybe aren’t so enlightened?
Sara: Well, refuturing is a technique that I developed that morphed out of everything I’d done before. The basis of it is becoming really present with ourselves. I teach clients a lot of mindset and perspective shifts, a lot of which I outline in the book, and there is an energetic thing that happens when two people sit down together and create a space for things to happen, things to shift. I have energy poses I have people hold and we go through a process of getting connected with what’s truly going on with them. Not the surface level stuff that we can really obsess about, but what’s underneath them.
Then I use a series of our refuturing statements. I’ll start up, “What if it’s possible?” I have them do an energy pose that helps them connect with their energy and their body and their whole system as I say these statements. It could be something like, “What if it’s possible that it is safe for me to be all of who I am?” Speaking could go on for several minutes and they build on each other.
By saying, “What if it’s possible?” That opens up the person to creativity and curiosity.
Shani: Okay, great. Refuturing, in other words, it sounds like, to put it layman’s terms, is helping people get the right mindset to change their future because a lot of times, we have a vision for what we want our life to look like and it’s just not happening for some reason, and it’s not necessarily that we have to change what we’re doing, we have to change why we’re doing it or the spirit with which we’re doing it, and that’s what refuturing gets you or that’s the idea of refuturing, yes?
Sara: Absolutely so if you think of it as a trajectory, if we keep doing the same thing we’re doing it’s going to look pretty much like it has.
Shani: Exactly. I just spoke to someone about that today. We were like, “If you want to predict your future look at your present.” [laughs]
Sara: Yes and with refuturing when we make shifts now it puts our lives on a whole different trajectory.
Shani: Got it. Let’s say I am– Because most of my listeners are leaders and executives managers in corporate settings so if someone were to come to you with a business challenge like, “Oh gosh, shall we make one up?” I manage a sales team and that sales team, they’re stretched too thin because we had some downsizing and our competitors are undercutting our prices and so we’re having a hard time making our numbers. I made that up but I didn’t make it up because lots of people experience something along those lines or close to it. How could you help that sales Leader refuture? What kind of things might you say to me?
Sara: First of all, when something happens we’re taking it then on a lot of different levels. There’s the thing that’s happening exactly what you described. Then it’s also about how is it resonating inside of us? It’s not just this situation it’s the times in the past when you have felt pressured or inadequate or like you’re being judged or that everything is stacked against you. You’re carrying all that stuff into this situation which means you’re dealing with more than what’s here. It’s that feeling of just weight on you.
Shani: Right. That’s just the latest version of it?
Sara: Exactly. Often these things go back to childhood.
Shani: Okay. You would help me refuture so that I would handle the situation differently than I might have in the past so that I’m no longer coming from a place of inadequacy or feeling judged et cetera?
Sara: Right. Part of what refuturing does is that it helps you release your stuff. That’s an acronym I use for your stuck thoughts, unresolved feelings and fears.
Shani: Oh I love that. Stuck as an acronym. I love that.
Sara: Stuck thoughts, unresolved feelings and fears. If you imagine there’s a pipe that connects you with the universe, the world at large, then our stuff is like gunk that sticks to the side of the pipe. All that emotional baggage from the past, the experiences you’ve had in the past, the identities you have. That you actually see yourself in specific ways like what you can and can’t do. The more that gets cleared out, the greater an opening is for both things to come to you and for you to show up in the world.
Shani: I love the imagery of cleaning out the pipes so that the throughput moves through with a lot more ease rather than having to work its way around the gunk or the stuff. I want to pause and ask any leader shifters who are listening or watching to think about what’s your stuff? Your stuck thoughts, unresolved feelings and fears. What are some of your stuffs that you think are holding you back?
It might seem like a professional challenge. What it really is is some baggage that you’re carrying forward and you might need to have refutured and whether it’s by Sara or someone else or something you can work through yourself based on what Sara is teaching us today, have that in mind as you listen to the rest of the podcast.
Sara: That affects how we interact with people because you know that person who just gets on your nerves, it’s not just about that person. They are simply bringing up something in you that is unresolved. It would be like if I said, “Gosh Amy, your purple hair is fabulous. You go, “You know your hair is not purple.” So you know that was something I was seeing but it wouldn’t upset you. Write it off like whatever.
Shani: [crosstalk] Wear some wonky contact lenses in.
Sara: Exactly. If I said something to you that was already something that was a sore spot for you, you wouldn’t see it as just my opinion, my way of seeing things because you’ve already got that sensitivity.
Shani: Right. That makes sense. It’s an easy way to explain that it’s not about me, it’s about the other person. Good. Well, can we jump into talking about the book?
Shani: There’s a couple of places I want to go with this. Again folks, Sara’s book is The Universe Fucking Loves Me. Again, awesome title. I guess let’s go there first. What was the reaction you got? I obviously love the title but I am free with profanity sometimes but some folks aren’t. You live in North Carolina which is still considered part of the South where maybe those kind of words aren’t typically said in polite company let’s just say. What was the range of responses you got to the title?
Sara: One of my more vulnerable moments was telling my parents because I grew up in Alabama and my parents still live there.
Shani: You’ll go to hell if you say that word.
Sara: I have to say my parents put it on their coffee table, my mother has posted on social media about it and not everybody has reacted that way. Some people absolutely love it because it really does strike a chord. It’s so much more powerful than just, “The Universe Loves Me.” When we have those intense times that are just filled with all of our self-doubt and fears, we don’t go for the, “Oh this hurts.” I know this fucking hurts. This is painful. The book addresses a lot of that. The title needed to have the same vibration as those intense times.
Shani: Love that. All right. First of all, I love the names of all of your chapters. They’re so catchy. Every chapter title is maybe not quite as powerful as the title of the book but they’re very clever and attention-getting. There’s a few– Since we don’t have the time to talk through every chapter but there’s a few that I wanted to ask you for a synopsis to give people a taste of the flair that you infuse into your book. One of my favorite ones is lightening bolts of duh. Talk to us about that?
Sara: [laughs] We know things on different levels. Then we have knowing something in our mind like two plus two is four. I apologize for the doorbell.
Shani: It’s okay. This is what happens on a live show.
Sara: That’s right.
Shani: Alexa, let the person in at the front door with the package.
Sara: [laughs] You can know something in your mind like that like knowing that the earth is round. Then you can know something in your heart. You know you love someone. It’s not an intellectual thing. You could list the things you love about them but knowing that you love them is in your heart. Then you can know things in your body, in your very cells. It’s not a belief it is a knowing. Example I use in the book is knowing that ice is cold. You never stop and debate about it. If you wouldn’t do a free webinar on proving ice is cold, you know it. Lightning bolts of duh are when something moves from our intellectual knowing into our experiential knowing which is how it gets into our body knowing. You can have this revelation and on one hand, it’s like, “Oh my God, this is changing my life.” On the other, it’s like, “Duh, I always knew this.” It could be something like knowing I am enough. If you know it on an intellectual level, you’ll agree.
You’ll say, “Yes, of course, I’m enough blah blah,” but when you get it in your bones and you’re acting on it and you’re not questioning when you have a conversation or go into a meeting or presentation or face that big hairy problem, it’s a different thing.
Shani: Yes. What came up for me as you were describing that is the phases of when people learn things goes from unconscious and competence to unconscious competence where you just know something. You could be sleeping and you could be opining on it because you know it that well. It’ sounds the lightning bolts of duh, first, you may not know it on unconscious incompetence, but then you know it on the intellectual level but for it to be a, “duh” is when it’s just second nature. I guess the thought becomes a habit versus a forced affirmation or something?
Sara: Right. It’s when it becomes your normal.
Sara: It’s why we can read these amazing books and listen to speakers, and we get all this intellectual level knowledge, but then our lives aren’t changing.
Sara: It’s because it hasn’t gotten down into our experiential level of knowing.
Shani: Okay. LeaderShifters be on the lookout for those lightning bolts of duh, things that you’ve always known but haven’t internalized the level of it becoming a duh. [laughs] All right, so the next one is, “Your weakness is your superpower?” What’s that all about?
Sara: Well, there are things about us that we consider a problem with ourselves. They are the things that we just keep coming up against. When we get that, that thing is part of our power, and we can use it and own it, then it becomes our superpower. For instance, I have a client who was having problems in her life because she seemed to create tension places.
Shani: In her body or tension in relationships?
Sara: In relationships which resulted in tension in her body.
Shani: Right. [crosstalk]
Sara: What we came to in our work with that causing tension is part of her superpower. That when she is using it consciously, she is creating appropriate tension that leads people in organizations to change. That was a whole different perspective than why am I such a mess that I keep doing this. What’s wrong with me?
Shani: It seems like same superpower, and the shift was going from telling yourself a story that I use this superpower for evil or that not effectively versus I’m using the superpower for good.
Sara: Even seeing it as a superpower and not just a defect in my personality or my character.
Shani: Yes, got it. Helping people turn around what they think as flaws and redefining them as superpowers enabling them to see the gift in whatever that is for them.
Sara: Right. Again, getting it on a deep level, not just the intellectual nod. Sure, superpower whatever.
Shani: [laughs] Then this last one I love, I actually say something like this pretty regularly. Why we don’t do what we know to do. It’s like New Year’s resolution, right? People make them all the time. They know what they need to do to meet the resolution. For example, going to the gym. That’s probably the most common New Year’s resolution on the planet. People know. They know where the gym is. They know how to use the weights.
They know how to hire a trainer if they were so inclined. They know how to turn on the treadmill, and they don’t do what they know after maybe January 15th, or for the executive who makes the New Year’s resolutions, “I’m going to get home earlier. I’m going to spend more time with the kids.” Then finds themselves stuck at work until eight or nine o’clock on a regular basis.
We know we should be coming home to spend more time with the kids because we can never get that time back, and yet we don’t do what we know. I’m super curious for you to share with everyone what’s the Sara, The Universe Fucking Loves Me, spin on that?
Sara: Well, it’s the same thing that keeps our intellectual knowing intellectual. It’s again that stuff. The stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, the fears we have. Take the example of going to the gym. Part of us really wants to get in shape, live a healthier life, have more stamina, all these wonderful things. All of that is true. What’s also true is that we have stories around not being enough. Will I know who I am if I look so different?
Am I truly worth putting all this time and effort into? Will I lose my friends who really like complaining about how out of shape we are and going out for beer and pizza every other night?
Shani: Will I fail at work if I leave early enough to go to the gym because people are going to think that I’m not as dedicated as I used to be?
Sara: Right. So much what we think other people will think about us.
Shani: Yes, interesting. It’s like there’s a goal that causes us to put our foot on the accelerator, and then there’s these other beliefs that it’s like us putting the other foot on the break so we’re spinning it or not even spinning our wheels, we’re going nowhere?
Sara: We are wondering what’s going on because we don’t realize how hard we’re pushing the break.
Sara: That comes from a part of us that so many people call a saboteur. I call it the safety self. Some of the things are patterns we developed in childhood that actually provided some level of safety.
Sara: That’s a part of our brain that developed millennia ago when it was important to watch out for what could be wrong. Not everything that’s beautiful and peaceful but what’s hiding under the bushes.
Sara: That part kicks in and the typical response is to fight against it. That just builds up the energy. If you’ve ever been around a child who really wants your attention, ignoring them only makes them louder. [laughs] We are infinite and that voice has infinite possibilities of things that can say. When we can see it as, “This is a part of me trying to protect me,” and just listen to it. Listen to it doesn’t mean we have to agree with it or follow it.
We just have to give it space. Then that just diffuses the struggle and you’re becoming more conscious and more aware of what’s actually going on inside, behind the scenes.
Shani: Right. I love the way you’ve reframed it as a safety self because a lot of people as you said refer to it as saboteur or inner critic. It’s something that sounds like it’s your enemy. Whereas you’re framing it as, “Hey, it’s just one of the many voices in my head.” Not that we all got a bunch of fake voices in our head but I mean the aspects of who we are and how we think. Of course, we have that. We were children once and here are things that kept us safe as children when we continued to hold those beliefs into adulthood, sometimes they’re still valid sometimes they’re outdated and we need to be a little bit more discerning about which is when.
Sara: Yes. I use the analogy of imagining a coat you had when you were eight years old. Something that felt warm and protective and cozy, if you tried to put that coat on now it would feel constrictive.
Shani: The sleeves would be up here.
Right. It doesn’t mean that there was anything wrong with the coat or wrong with the fact that it protected you as a child and there’s nothing wrong with the fact that it doesn’t fit now. It just doesn’t fit anymore.
Shani: That’s right. That’s an opportunity to go shopping for a new coat.
Sara: New mindsets without denigrating what was there before.
Shani: Yes, absolutely. The next question I wanted to ask you about your book is because I know how you had had the book written in your head and many people who say they want to write a book. I was one of them and years and years more than 10 I’m writing a book this year, I’m writing a book this year, one of those resolutions never happened. I finally wrote and released my book in 2017 and I remember being when I got a text message or an email or WhatsApp message from you basically saying I’m locking myself in a cabin in the woods for a week and I’m going to write my book and I’m like, “Wow good for you.”
Sure as shit when you were done with that week you had the first draft of the book. I want to know do you recommend that? How did you finally decide to make that commitment and what did you have to do when you were locked up alone with yourself to get it done versus oh let me see what’s on Netflix? [laughs]
Sara: Well, first of all, I have been doing this work on myself for years. Walking my talk is one of my key values. By the time I got that I have been thinking for years, I want to write a book but I don’t know about what and I tossed around some working ideas. The Universe Fucking Loves Me, is a phrase I’d said for years. I introduced it into the group that you and I are part of and it became part of the lexicon. I was like maybe this is really a thing. When I got that that was the title of the book I just got inspired. I got an editor at the end of February said I want the book out by May and she said great.
I made up a list of chapter titles we went to the cabin and I found a cabin that had an outdoor hot tub because that was just a necessary thing and had a space that looked like I would love to write there. Left the electronics never figured out what the Wi-Fi password was, that thing. I just let myself be inspired. I took the focus off whoever was going to read it. I made the commitment to myself that even if nobody in the world ever read it this was going to be a chance for me to experience being as vulnerable as I could possibly be. Then I just sat and wrote. I didn’t try to edit as I went, I just simply wrote. I discovered a couple of things. One is that it was easier to share my struggles than to share my successes. That felt more vulnerable to claim my gifts and my strengths.
Shani: I think a lot of women struggle with that. Human beings, in general, I see it even more commonly with women that I coach or even that are in my set of friends and it’s a pretty accomplished confident group of women on the outside.
Sara: Right, yes. One of the chapters is called when the shits the fan and I had hit a writing block. I thought okay I’m just going to write what this is and this is how I handle it. That’s what the chapter is. It’s talking about this writing block.
Shani: Then suddenly you were unblocked amazingly?
Sara: Right. I wrote the list of chapters and then doubled it just as they came. That was not one I had planned. Then when I turned it into my editor she later told me that it was one of 5% of books she’s gotten that could have just gone to print.
Shani: Wow. That’s a great compliment.
Sara: Yes. There was only one chapter that I did much work on at all and I can’t now remember what that one is. That all started at the very end of February and by May 30th the book was launched on Amazon and had hit number one in all three categories in the US and in Canada and number one in a couple in the UK.
Shani: So awesome. Well, Sara, this has been so fun. Always a pleasure for me to have people who I love and treasure on the show and who on top of that have such useful information and wisdom to share with Leadershifters out there. Any last words of advice you’d give folks based on refuting or knowing the universe fucking loves them.
Sara: The real gifts each of us have or what’s already inside of us and life is our chance to experience being ourselves and whatever you do that supports you in that is worth doing. Shani, I love what you’re creating and seeing you shine this way and love getting to play with you in this arena as we have in so many ways. That’s just what makes the world better and better. It’s when we each shine as who we are.
Shani: And collaborate with each other. I know that everyone and in our leadership group we’re all very 24 different people and some of us are closer than others yet the entire tribe is a cohesive group and we learned from each other. I think we even helped lend our gifts to each other when we need them. One of the things that you said to me once that I share all the time now with credit to you I always say my friend Sara taught me this and I love the imagery is that to give to other people it’s so much easier when you’re already full and you’re giving from your overflow versus when you’re giving from a deficit.
For me and a lot of my clients, it shows up in self-care. We’re not completely taking care of ourselves yet we’re doing stuff for everybody else for our clients for families for friends for boards that were on all those other stuff and then what’s left for us. I use that imagery now to think am I refilling my own cup? Am I taking care of myself and having the downtime and shutting off for any period of time so that I can fill back up so that when I’m ready to give again to the clients and the family and friends and the boards I’m giving from the overflow? I totally forgot about that as part of what I wanted to mention on the podcast until just now.
I’m glad the imagery came up prompted by what you were just saying.
Sara: Part of that comes from our sense of our own enoughness and our own worthiness like I’m worth taking care of, I am worth setting boundaries for. What I contribute when I am at my best is worth nourishing.
Leadershifters I hope you enjoyed listening to Sara as much as I enjoyed having her on the show and I encourage you to think about what your stuff is stuck thoughts unresolved feelings and fears and start to think about what’s possible for you in your future if you just shifted your mindset. Instead of listening to those negative voices or inner critic voices instead even shifting the conversation with them and view them as a safety self, thank them for what they have to contribute and then listen to all the other opinions as well, instead of letting that one be the loud voice. Lastly, since it came up just at the end, take care of your self so that you too in whatever context it’s in, are able to give from your overflow. Thank you for joining us. Sara, how can folks reach you or buy a copy of the book?
Sara: Copy the book, it’s on Amazon along with a journal that walks you through the process to really get in in-deep. I have a website,
Shani: Of course.
Sara: And refutureyourlife.com.
Shani: Excellent. Well, thanks so much and Leadershifters just as always. Hit me up on social media, The Leadershift Project on all the social media sites or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next time. Mwah.