How To Be A Human Episode 006 – How to Delineate Self Help From Self Harm With Sarah Edmundson

Today I am sharing an incredible conversation that I had the privilege of having with Sarah Edmundson.

Sarah is a talented actress with a radiant smile and natural charm. She has an exceptionally diverse portfolio of interests, and dedicates herself with limitless energy and positivity to the worlds of acting and yoga.

In 2005, when NXIVM, a personal and professional development company, promised to provide the tools and insight Sarah needed to reach her potential, she was intrigued. Over her twelve-year tenure, she went from student to coach and eventually operated her own NXIVM center in Vancouver. Questions kept coming up about the organization’s rules and practices, which came to a head in 2017 when she accepted an invitation from her best friend to join DOS, a “secret sisterhood” within NXIVM.

In 2019, Sarah published Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life, with Kristine Gasbarre. In this tell-all memoir, she shares her story from the moment she takes her first seminar to her harrowing fight to get out of NXIVM, collaborate with the FBI, help others, and heal.

In today’s episode we talk all about;

  • Sarah’s experiences being in a cult and the courage she had to leave
  • Being able to recognize the difference between self help and self harm
  • Sarah’s path to healing past trauma and settling into who she really is
  • And so much more!

This conversation is definitely one you’re going to want to listen to. So grab some tacos and let’s dive in, okay?! Hit the podcast player above to listen now, or continue scrolling to read the full transcription!

Want to connect with Sarah? Grab a copy of her book? You can find her at https://www.sarahedmondson.com/

 

How to Delineate Self Help From Self Harm With Sarah Edmundson

Leisse

Hello, and welcome back to How To Be A Human the podcast with Leisse Wilcox. I am a conscious relationship coach changing the global conversation on emotional health and self-love. And I have the great privilege of having so many interesting humans on the show. Just to talk about things that light us up that are interesting and provide pretty killer insights on how to be a human and today is no exception. I am borderline fangirling over Sarah Edmondson who’s joining me from Vancouver, BC. Hello. 

Sarah

Hi. Thank you for having me. 

Leisse

I’m so happy to have you. It’s you know, we live in this Instagram world, right? And whenever you reach out to somebody on Instagram, and they write back to you, it’s like, this is the coolest, like this is the coolest feeling.

Sarah

Imagine 20 years ago now what you’d have to do, you have to like find the person’s manager agent and write a letter. Send it in the mail. 

Leisse

Once upon a time, I studied ancient civilizations, and I did a project on Peru. This is a great project. But I did a project on Peru. And it never, it never left me that when they wanted to send a message to somebody in ancient Peru, they had to tie knots on something called a keypoo. And then the ruler would like the messenger boy would run up the mountain and deliver this knotted rope to the ruler. The ruler would decode the knots and then send the kid back down the hill. And I’m like, that’s like a two-month process to get a message.

Sarah 

So sorry. I’ll turn that off. Oh my gosh, my mom loves to call me during podcasts. 

Leisse

My neighbour likes to chip ice off her driveway in the middle of the podcast. So this could be interesting.

Sarah

Well, you said it’s conversational. And this is a little taste of my life. My mum calls, well we call like, we talk five times a day. Sorry, Mum, I’m on a podcast. Love you.

Leisse 

I love it. 

Sarah 

My mom’s just figuring out what podcasts are. 

Leisse 

Your mom’s gonna get it like a crash course on this. 

Sarah

Do you actually know what happened? I’m sorry. I’m just jumping in for a second and then I’ll give the reins back. So the very first podcast that I ever did was when I was coming out of Nxivm I know we haven’t talked about what that is yet for your audience. But coming out of the cult, and I told a friend of mine. Oh my god. That group I was in. I thought it was really good. Turns out it was a cult. And I was manic for quite some time. I was just telling everybody I could and that I was out because I know people get worried. And turns out he was a producer at the CBC. And he was like we should talk about this. I just ran into him on the beach on Hornby Island, one of the Gulf islands here. And we started recording and taping and ended up being a seven, six, or seven-part. 

Leisse

Like docu-podcast?

Sarah

Yeah, and I don’t know what it is now. But at some point, it had 25 million downloads.

Leisse

Oh My God. 

Sarah

Yeah. And the only reason my mom agreed to talk to Josh is that we’ve known Josh since we were in diapers and it was like you said just a conversation. And next thing you know, she’s got this, huge hit podcast talking about losing her daughter to a cult. So sorry, mom you wanted to be private, but you’re not! Just like I’m not! lol

Leisse

So to launch right into that anybody who doesn’t yet know, like, I don’t know, can you be the star of a documentary? Is that a fair introduction for you? 

Sarah

I mean, it’s, it’s kind of weird because I’ve been an actor for 20 years and I’ve never been the star of anything. Like I’ve never been famous in the acting world at work, but like I’m not, you know, I’ve never been a lead on a show. I’ve said to have had really great substantial roles, but not a household name. And that’s totally fine. Probably what I wanted in my 20s but in my 40s like it matters less. But then to be recognized for The Vow where I’m myself. You know, I’m just me, I’m me. And not only am I me, but I’m going through the most challenging personal dark drama of my life. But sure you could say star. It makes me feel better.

Leisse 

I want to say again, like on the record, on the record that it is very important to me that this is not a conversation that re-traumatizes you in any way.

 

Sarah

I will tell you, I’ll tell you when there are some things that often come up in interviews. I’m like, I’m just not going to talk about that or just talk about it from like a disassociated, kind of, that happened, not to go into the great details, because the details of certain events do certainly trigger me still.

 

Leisse

Absolutely, It’s legit trauma like it’s gonna be there for a little while, you know? So my introduction to you was via The Vow, which is a docu-series on HBO that I highly recommend to people, like to everyone to watch and twofold my fascination with The Vow and my like, Oh my god, just why I’m so compelled to talk to you and really to know you are not from this voyeuristic Like, oh, what happened in this is Nxivm like what happened in there. My fascination is that I have a Master’s certification in neuro-linguistic programming, okay, I have the same training as one of the founders of Nxivm. So I’m coming at this from like, Oh, shit, what happens when self-help takes that dangerous turn to self-harm? And to me, that’s really fascinating because that is a fucking human experience, period. So when I was doing my Masters training a bunch of the ladies in my class, we’re talking about The Vow and it became a real source of conversation to be like, what are we doing like is NLP okay? And NLP is a really valuable healing modality, it’s an incredibly valuable tool to figure out those blocks that you can’t quite identify why they have such a hold on you to go back and revisit them from an observer’s point of view at the subconscious level and heal the pain of the experience while learning all the lessons and hanging on to the lessons of the experience that allow you to heal forward and make really good decisions. And when that becomes corrupted, when somebody comes at that as a tool for their own gain in their own way, it’s really fucking dangerous because now we’re working with the subconscious mind, which is actually where we program and hold all our beliefs. Right.

 

Sarah

Exactly. And ironically, Keith Ranieri, the leader of this, former leader, because he’s now in jail, thank you very much, for like 120 years, which is he’s not getting out. As I now know, sociopaths, love to hide in plain sight and tell you exactly what they’re doing. Never suspect it was them. And he even talked about that, that NLP and the other tools that we use, he said, it’s like a knife. The knife in the hand of a murderer is very different then the knife in the hand of a surgeon. So we thought we were these ethical surgeons with this wonderful tool. And you’re absolutely right. And I can tell you, I’ve had a huge transformation with people who were so good to me and wanted to help me. And then that same tool was used later to get me to do things unfathomable that, you know, I never would have done but I was already in the system and trusted my leadership and all that crap that we can get into. 

 

Leisse

So in addition to being a part of Nxivm, in addition to being a celebrated Canadian actress, you are also now an author of Scarred, which is really your memoir of how you came to leave the cult and become basically the whistleblower on the cult, which has done all kinds of healing forward, I’m sure for your family, but also for I don’t know, 1000s, 10s of 1000s of people.

 

Sarah

So I mean, the book came out a year before The Vow did, and, you know, it had a certain impact. And then The Vow brought a whole new level of awareness to my story and what had happened, and then again, shone a light on the book. And, you know, people reach out, I’m sure, like they do for you with your book, you know, probably, I mean, anywhere from like, 2 to 10 a day saying, either I saw the Vow or the book or I saw the Vow, then I got your book or whatever. People really want to know all the details and, and they’re just like, you know, it ranges from ‘because of sharing your story, I realized I was in either an abusive relationship or a high control group or whatever, and I’m leaving, or it helps me understand what happened to me 20 years ago that would that was, and now I know, I’ve been gaslit by a narcissist. Or thanks to the Vow or your book I was starting a workshop and I had red flags. And I would have continued but then I left because of the Vow’ and I’m like, like, I get goosebumps when I say that because you know as shitty as this last three years have been living in 12 years is like 15 years of my life. It’s worth it. It’s just fucking worth it. Can I swear on this one? 

 

Leisse 

Yeah, it’s currency.

 

Sarah 

I’m such a potty mouth but like, I try not to. I owe my son $208 for every swear. I started this around the time that the Vow aired, which you can tell. So yeah, I do swear a lot. But um, ya know, it’s been very rewarding. And, you know, that was my goal from the beginning to provide a template for people to have the awareness to never enter in the first place these types of dynamics, to wake up if they’re in it and to leave. 

 

Leisse

Okay, I love this. And I want to dive right into this. That’s, that’s what hit me at the very beginning of The Vow at the very beginning of reading your book, and at again, from my own interest as an NLP practitioner, as a master level coach, as somebody who is like, so committed to being of service to, I call it emotional alchemy, to take all the shit that happened in the past that was dark and heavy and unwanted, and consciously transform that into something light, golden, beautiful & uniquely your own. I feel like that’s what really hit me is that I was watching as I’m reading this, I’m watching this from a, observing messages as a keen observer of the human experience. And I think that like that first delineation, point of self-help versus self-harm is, are you encouraged to trust your gut? Or are you encouraged to hand over blind faith that somebody else knows better than you? Right? 

 

Sarah

Totally. In fact, I was writing a little list just because I like to be prepared. Of like what’s the difference? You know, when does it go from? Because there are healthy organizations where you can do personal development and you know, work with a coach like yourself, and it’s healthy? But when do you know what are some of the red flags in this specific field, specifically, coaching, specifically, somebody helping you. And that was actually one of the first things I said is that, if they say, you know, like for us, like they did in Nxivm, you’re going to feel the urge to leave, that’s really normal because we’re confronting demons or real demons, but we’re confronting shit that you haven’t looked at, you’re gonna want to be like, I don’t, I don’t want to look at this. And you’re gonna want to go, that’s normal come talk to a coach. But what it was doing was saying those feelings, you had to override them if you’re truly going to be committed to your success. Which we said every day. By the way, we are committed to our success clap, bow, thank you, Vanguard, blah, blah, yeah, the whole set of rituals and rules around that.

 

Leisse 

Which then normalizes and creates a new neurological pattern of emotional safety, that when you get entrenched in that new neurological pattern of safety, that Oh, I feel fear. And my response is to tap back into that ritual of praise, bow, etc, etc. Now, when you’re in that, knowing what I know about the brain through my own NLP training, your brain can’t make you a liar. And then BINGO, BANGO. Now, we’re entrenched, because now I feel fear, I have created a new trigger response, which is actually a great idea when you’re confronting fears that have control over you that you want to like, learn from, but I will circle back to that in a second. And now we’ve created this ritual that becomes the new baseline. And when that’s the new baseline, now, your subconscious, which is always sweeping the environment for signs of danger. Now, anything in opposition to that, like anything that confronts that ritual to be untrue, makes you a liar, which your brain can’t process. So now you’re entrenched, like, I’m sitting here watching and I was like, holy shit, I can’t believe they did that. Like, I can’t believe that. And like, I can’t believe this happened. And I totally can believe this happened, but I can’t believe they bastardized the knowledge of how the brain works to manipulate people into that level of behavior. 

 

Sarah 

Yeah, because they wanted you, they wanted us to not trust our gut and I think that’s the most diabolical thing that Keith did is to take that apart. I remember, actually, I don’t think I’ve talked about this anywhere, but it reminded me of something. In terms of the rewiring that often, we often did, like EMF or like a process of Covino exploration of meaning we can go into more later, where you’d bring forth a phobia or a challenge or a conflict or a trigger response. And, you know, let’s say it’s something like speaking in public and like people have a fear response to that right. And the facilitator could lead them through like, well, what scary things, is there a bear-like what scary thing is actually happening?. And the metaphor that was used was that Have you ever seen a light go off in the car that says, like your engines you know, failing, and you bring it in? And and and it turns out that the engines are not failing, but that the light is broken. So they would say what if your fear coming up is just broken light, but there’s actually nothing wrong? So there’s truth in that. And sometimes, in some situations, I’m not going to die if I speak in public. Oh my God, my adrenaline going off is just my just a trigger from the time I stood up in grade two. And I farted. And then someone laughed, and then I was really embarrassed, like, you know, and you can reframe that with a therapist or, you know, within the context of an EMF. And that’s a great thing. But when I’m feeling fearful, because I don’t want to, you know, get a brand on my body without anesthetic, for example, they can use that to say, it’s just your fear, you’re totally fine. You know, and then, and not only that, they don’t even have to say it. I’m doing it to myself. 

 

Leisse 

So, two things for me immediately. And I grew up with a narcissistic step-parent, so and there been several, like, that was like the base pattern for me. And there have been several narcissistic relationships that I’ve had in my life as an old pattern. And I am comfortable saying, I think I healed it. Like, I don’t think I need that lesson anymore. But I can speak with a great degree of intimacy, having had True Blue narcissistic relationships in my life, from business life, family love, like all of the areas. That is the number one red flag, I believe, to be true of a narcissist that they teach you. It’s not safe to listen to yourself. As soon as that comes up to me, I’m like, I am starting to feel triggered by it right now. It’s like, as soon as you start to think like, Oh, I must be the crazy one, somebody else knows better. It’s like, you need to do a serious reevaluation of what is happening in your life. Right? 

 

Sarah

That reminds me of the other thing you said at the beginning, about, you know, assuming that someone else knows better, the problem is that we are in a society where there are authority figures. And when you go to, this starts in the beginning, you go to, you know, school and your teachers are your teachers, and they’re above you, and it specifically within Nxivm, there was this ranking system. Which also at the time, you know, I can, I could argue what was good about it, and what was helpful in terms of growth and measuring, like, I got to do this, this and this. Good for my self-esteem. It’s not this vague. Well, now, I’m happy now. So I guess I could be a coach to like those measurable, like results. Yeah, measurable results, which are great. But it also set up that the people above you knew better. And they could always put it anytime I was upset or had a problem with something it could always be put back into. Well, it’s just because that’s, you know, Sarah is just doing her thing. You do see how you’re being controlling right now? Can you go journal on that, on that with your coach, before we talk about it again, thank you.

 

Leisse 

When people come to me, and they say, like, oh, I have like, I’m a total self-help junkie, I will actually stop them and be like, so that, like, if you want to work with me, as a coach, be prepared for that story to end. Because like, if you were a self-help junkie, what that says to me is that there’s a void, and you’re filling it not with sex, or food, or alcohol or drugs or online shopping, you’re filling it with self-help and personal development. So it’s like that to me that like I’m a self-help junkie, I keep looking for somebody else to tell me what I need to be true. There’s such a fine line between I am a person who is healing, and I look to mentors in my environment to help me heal, to guide me through that healing process. Right. Which again, personally, I’m like, you already have everything you need inside you. It’s just a matter of connecting with those like cosmic breadcrumbs of teachers who help cultivate that within you. Versus I am broken. I need to be fixed. I have no idea what’s wrong, or what to do. Somebody else has to tell me and it’s like, oh, shit, an entire industry has built itself around the latter. 

 

Sarah 

That’s why it totally makes me want to barf. Like, I know, there are legitimate people like yourself, who are doing this, and that gives me hope. And I don’t wanna say but but but there’s this whole, the whole bookshelf of it. And all the dirt like you said in the email, shysters and I can smell it a mile away. I can smell it. I’m just like, God and how many people invited me to their essential oils class. I mean, I can’t deal like the whole thing is just gotten out of control. But that’s exactly what Nxivm kind of like that’s another really dangerous thing they did is that they would in the very first five days, in many ways they offered like huge awarenesses for most people if you were open you know about especially if they’ve never done any other work on themselves before seen a therapist. It could be huge, like resolving old stuff with parents and major communication, communication issues and relationship challenges, and even understanding projection. Like, there’s a whole class on projection. And most people didn’t even understand what that was, you know, so that can be mind-blowing. But ultimately, what it, I think it was, I think it was designed to do and in retrospect, knowing what I know now about sociopaths and all this stuff, it was designed to bring up that void. And, you know, we all have something like if only I was more blah, blah, blah, I would be, you know, blah, blah, blah. And just general feelings of like, lack of self-worth, and lack of self-love that we all have to deal with on this journey of life. And really bring it up to you’re like, Oh, my God, I just don’t love myself. That’s clearly why I am. And then and then, and then they’re like, but we can fix that in the next 11-day program. So it’s like, it showed the problem and then offered the solution to the problem. And then benefited from that financially. And ironically, that’s another strategy that Keith taught us called shifter. It’s, it happens everywhere in the world.

 

Leisse 

Is this like, integrated marketing? or vertical marketing? 

 

Sarah

I don’t know that term, but possibly, but basically, like, anytime a company or organization or whatever, creates a problem. And then provides the solution to the problem and benefits financially from that. 

 

Leisse 

100%. Did you watch 30 rock? 

 

Sarah

No, I never got into it. But I liked it when I did. 

 

Leisse 

So 30 Rock is really funny. Like Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey together, it’s just like, what’s happening is that they have like 30 writers around some other episodes. And they would just sit at the table and fire off like every single line of a 23-minute show is hilarious. So it’s an excellent TV show. 

 

Sarah

You don’t know but that was airing when I was in the cult. There was no time for TV.

 

Leisse

But I was gonna say they talk about it in 30 rock, because like they run NBC. And I think they call it vertical integration or vertical marketing. And it’s basically like, we are a company who sells, I don’t know, some kind of brand of chips that are going to give you diarrhea, and we sell you a diarrhea medication. And we do 2 back-to-back commercials on our own network. And it’s like, perfect, we just sold you the problem. And then we sold you the solution in like 60 seconds or less. 

 

Sarah

Right. And there are some people who know more about this than I do. But like the parent company that owns certain pharmaceutical companies that provide the treatments to certain diseases, or it’s also the same parent company that owns the cosmetic companies that give you the parabens that cause the disease in the first place. 

 

Leisse

And then the billion-dollar ad buys behind why your lashes aren’t good enough, and why you’re too fat. And it’s like, are we starting to see the dots here by starting to see how flawed that system is? 

 

Sarah

Right, which is one of the like, in addition to providing the cult template that I wanted to with my book. The other thing that I really was hoping to achieve, especially for young women, if they read it is to feel like okay, I don’t have to do all those things. No, I’m not broken. I don’t have a void. I mean, I can drink green juice and do Pilates. But I don’t have to do every day to have that perfect body and boss babe, and hashtag right? 

 

Leisse

Yeah, I get obsessed with that. Because I think again like I’m really interested in the reach and in the void because I think that part of the human condition, part of the human experience is a degree of loneliness. And some of that low I’m reading a book, a second book on that this year, like about being alone and about finding the truth and beauty that comes from solitude, right? Especially during COVID. Right? I know, I know, it was born out of being single for a few years, but now it’s really like, Oh, no, there’s such a beautiful quality, but alone And so much of it. So many of us shame what it means to be alone. And it’s not shameful. It’s just like, part of our experience is a feeling of loneliness, no matter how much we want to belong. And we’re driven to having this sense of connection and driven to have a feeling as we do belong, which is biological from being a social pack animal, like our caveman’s brain feels like we have to belong to the group for our own survival, right? If we’re accepted, we live, if we’re rejected, we’re dead period. So if we have a deep, deep, deep longing for belonging, that is necessarily going to create a little feeling of a low-grade loneliness and sometimes that loneliness is not low grades and it’s very pronounced and we all have those feelings of isolation. But to capitalize on that, and to be like, Oh, you know, you don’t want to feel lonely anymore. Here’s the solution. It bypasses the reality that like, you know, what if part of you is going to feel lonely, period, why don’t we talk about that from an emotional health perspective of like, what does it mean to sit in loneliness? Not to fix the loneliness. But how to support that loneliness and cultivate peace? In being lonely, right? 

 

Sarah

Yeah, yeah. What if it’s not a problem? 

 

Leisse

What if it’s, like what happens if that’s not a problem? Oh, but what are we gonna buy? Well, and that’s the other thing that I was gonna say. In terms of EMs (Exploration of Meaning), it stands for the exploration of meaning, right. So can you tell me a little bit more about that?

 

Sarah

Yeah, sure. So, I mean, there’s always like, what I thought it was, and then what it turned out to be. And what we were told is that it was based on his patent-pending technology, Called Rational inquiry, where essentially, you’d bring somebody a problem or a trigger, or something that you had a challenge with, it was a consistent thing, not like a one-time thing. Like every, the first thing that I ever EM was my boyfriend at the time would always leave, this is in the book, I think, leave dishes in the sink. And it was just like, you know, I’ve always been kind of in control, I’m a neat freak, not OCD, but like, jokingly OCD, you know. And I would just get, like, enraged, especially if I’d been out of the house, and I came home, and it was a mess. And I was just like, one time I yelled so hard, I scared the cat. And I was like, I had enough self-awareness. You know, I had read The Artists Way and The Power of Now. And like, I knew that this was not his fault, but I didn’t know how to change it. And basically what the facilitator did, and this is a really rudimentary example. And you’ll probably as a coach, you’d be like, Well, it sounds pretty basic. And some of them are more complex than this. But I’d like to show it because I think it’s very step by step, which is that the trigger is, you know, the dishes in the sink, the dishes mean something to me, so they would ask questions about what they mean. And you’re kind of like, I don’t know what they mean, they’re dishes in the sink? I don’t know. And then usually, if the facilitator asks the right questions, a memory comes up through the visceral reaction, like if I bring up the reaction that I have, when I think about the dishes, that triggers a memory, and the memory that came up, was when I was two just before my parents divorced, of them fighting over domestic things, including the dishes. So in my little, not logic, mind, I’d put together that the dishes cause the divorce. Right cause and effect. And so all the facilitator had to say was, what if that’s not true? What if that’s not what caused the divorce? What if your parents weren’t, you know, a good fit? All these other factors. And all I have to do is I have that recondition with my adult brain of dishes. Obviously, dishes don’t cause divorce, because otherwise everyone who had dishes would be divorced. 

 

Leisse 

I mean, the divorce rate is 50%. 

 

Sarah

So cut two, they would ask you to test the stimulus. And I remember going back and like months later, realizing that my boyfriend hadn’t changed, and I hadn’t even noticed. And then like laughing about what the dishes used to mean. So exploration of meaning looks at the meaning. And this is when it’s done in a healthy way. So that, you know, I did 1000s of EMs on myself and gave 1000s of EMs. And I love to do it because I love to explore with people. What was, what was the problem? What was the issue with this thing? What was so scary about it? What, what happened in that person’s childhood that would cause them to have so much fear around you know, XYZ. And then to dispel that, and then to have them say things like, thank you for that time, thanks to that I called my father after 30 years, and we’re now reconciled. 

 

Leisse 

It’s like life-changing shit, life-changing. It’s, it’s remarkable. And, like, in my work, I do it a little bit differently because we do it at the subconscious level. So it feels like a meditation. And it is it’s going back. So it’s like, you know, let’s say we all have like, top five negative emotions, right? And negative is a total judgment of that emotion, but I’m talking like anger, fear, resentment, hurt, guilt, shame, like all the really uncomfortable ones. And so in my work, we do like a big exploration of the overall context, getting clear on what your values are, and like really getting this like holistic 360 vision of what makes you you, not you as a mom, you the actress, you the, like a former cult member, like not any of that, but what makes you you, the person like who is your identity, what is your identity, so getting a really good sense of that. And then looking for patterns in like, you know, in my own example, wow, that narcissistic partner kept coming up over and over and over again. So like, let’s look at that pattern. And let’s say, you know, if you’re making microwave popcorn, I know that you have a real love of healthy eating. So you probably don’t eat it, But we like we make microwave popcorn on autopilot, right, like we just pop it in the microwave. But if you keep getting burned popcorn, you look at the sequence of events and the pattern of events that are leading up to that burnt popcorn, and you just interrupt that pattern so that you don’t have to do something differently. So the popcorn isn’t burned anymore. And we can do that behaviorally, we can do that in relationships, we can do that in all that stuff. And sometimes in that pattern, there is a feeling that I am not emotionally safe to do it in a different way. And when I don’t feel emotionally safe, I have the same fear response. So I physiologically, I think in Nxivm, they call it a visceral I read but you’re talking about like that physiological response of like, I feel triggered not only in my mind but in my body. And I want to either like, get the fuck out of here, play dead. I want to fawn all over this person or like people, please. So fight-flight, freeze fawn. If that comes up as a legit response, your body interprets that fear to be real. And if it interprets it to be real, then for all intents and purposes, it is real. So where I come from is like how do we create a sense of emotional safety in which that fear no longer has to trigger that response, which in that way, it’s so cathartically healing, because it doesn’t bypass it, it doesn’t only use your mindset, we actually go into your subconscious to be like, okay, so if there is a perceived fear that you know, it’s not safe for you to be seen. Here’s a great example, I worked with somebody the other day, this is so long, sorry. I’ve worked with somebody the other day, who is an entrepreneur, and she has been dying to explode like she’s so good at her craft, she has been dying to reach a larger audience. And there’s something that is holding her back. And she’s thought about it. She’s like, she’s done all the right things. And we went and explored it at a subconscious level. And through that meditative process of like, what is this fear? Like? What is this fear of being seen telling you, I’m able to guide people back without reliving the experience, which is a big, crucial part of this without reliving the experience how can you observe when this first appeared in your own timeline? And what do you need to learn from it? And she had this moment where she was like, holy shit, my dad was abusive. I stayed safe by keeping myself physically hidden. And all of a sudden, we pull the lessons out of that moment of like, so, you know, what did you need to learn then what do you need to learn now? And how do we apply all those lessons to every single point on your timeline, where you used to feel that fear of being seen so that we can heal it, we can rewire the brain to create a new or renewed sense of emotional safety so that that fear no longer creates that trigger response? So it’s like, the more I think the more in-depth EM, but coming at it from this holistic healing space of what do you need to learn what kept you safe? What served you that has now become a problem or that is now no longer serving or giving, like purposeful meaning to your life and healing from there.

 

Sarah

That’s so good. Yeah. I think that Keith stole from a number of different modalities. He kind of cobbled together his own thing. The EM was the sort of basic thing we talked about that in, in the vow and then in the 11th, day, on every single day, there was like an anger day, fear day, relationship day, control day, there was a what was called sourcing. And the sourcing was similar to an EM but there were different exercises, using timeline stuff, or like, you know, if you can go back and say that to the little girl, things, but it since found in other places, but the way it was presented to us is that he this was like proprietary tech. And I think he actually we weren’t allowed to let other therapists coaches psychologists in. And the reason they told us is that once they saw the tech, it would be impossible not to try to put it into their own right methods, and that would be watering it down. And it wouldn’t be ethical, and so on. But I think it was just because if he had somebody come in, who’d taken these other modalities, they’d be like, wait, what are you talking about, this isn’t yours? This is Buddhism. This is behavioral Therapy. 

 

Leisse 

The other thing I was gonna say for EM is for you, and, you know, this is the paradox, right? And this is why I think this conversation is so beautiful, like self-help versus self-harm. That work is phenomenally healing. You’ve seen it in your life. I’ve seen it in my life. You’ve seen it with clients. I’ve seen it with clients, it really does have life-lasting, positive change. It really does. Until it doesn’t until we get to that point of like, oh, you’re having, I can see you’re having a feeling. Let’s fix that. 

 

Sarah

And also, that’s another kind of red flag is, is it a problem if somebody wants to leave a said community or stop taking, excuse me stop taking classes or whatever? And you know, I didn’t, I didn’t think that there was, you know when I was in Nxivm if someone said you’re in a cult, I can come and go, I can take classes. I live in Vancouver, it’s in Albany, what are you talking about? You know, but what I didn’t, didn’t see is that there were what we now know is called planted phobias. So like, in a cult, in a religious cult, for example, it’d be like, you know, Satan will get you or you’re gonna die in hell, or you’ll be blinded or your family will be smitten or something, right? In things like this. The phobia is, I’m not going to be okay. If I leave, like, I have these issues, and I will not be able to resolve them if I leave. I’ll never be successful. If I leave. So yeah, people would come and go, but it wasn’t kind with the leadership said about them. Like, oh, you know, that Sarah, she just, she never did push through her dependency issues. And I know that they said that about me when I left.

 

Leisse 

Which is like, again, think about that. What healing modality, judges, others. Right? Like, that’s, that’s a red flag to me. 

 

Sarah

Yeah. the hypocrisy of it was, I mean, there are so many things that were hypocrite hypocritical, which is another thing I mentioned on my list is does the leadership Walk, walk the walk? Like, you know, are they consistent? Like Nancy would always say, how bad it was to be dependent on things and like, we weren’t allowed to drink wine, and, you know, things like that. But every day she came in with a cup of coffee. It was like, she couldn’t function without it. And I’m like, I don’t have any problem with the coffee. But like, I don’t understand. Which is it? Which is it here? You know, among other hypocritical things like we thought we thought Keith was a renunciate? We thought that he didn’t need materialism or have sex? We thought he was celibate. 

 

Leisse

And then and again, like just watching, you know, I know, you know, when you have social conscious proof, you know, I have, I hired a publicist for a reason so that I have a lot of media names behind my name so that people can be like, Oh, she’s been on, she’s been on CNN, she’s probably legit, right? And it’s like, I’m legit anyway. But as soon as I get the CNN logo on my website, now Oh, now she’s really legit, right? That works. That’s like how our brains work again, like goes back to like social programming and biology that we need somebody like nothing has meaning until we give it meaning. And nobody has meaning until we give it meaning. And we tend to like go to celebrities or to you know, like, trusted social names should be able to give us that meaning. But it’s like, he knew that and he bastardized it. And he just took advantage of it, and then gave himself his own accolades. And when you give yourself your own accolades, and you really create that persona, because narcissists and sociopaths, nonviolent sociopaths. They don’t have empathy. They don’t think the rules apply to them. They feel like they live beyond the scope of rules. And it’s like, oh, my God, if the social rules don’t apply, you can literally do anything. So if I go out there, and I say, like, oh, I’ve been featured on Oprah and somebody just can’t find me on Oprah. Then it’s like, well, she can’t be lying. Like she got that she’s there, right?

 

Sarah

Yep. 100% Oh, man. And then we did have legitimate things backing us up. Like, you know, the Dalai Lama came. You know, apparently, they did a five-day on Richard Branson’s Island. I’m like that, that and then and then they quote, cured Tourette’s. So we were always looking for these things that would give us I mean, we knew that the world didn’t give us validity, but we thought that like, and that there’s another hypocritical thing that we were taught that there are no victims. There are no victims ever. But somehow Keith was a victim to the world who just didn’t understand his brilliance, like and that later is like if he’s really the most brilliant man in the world. Why can’t he find a way to have people understand him? Like work with the world.

 

Leisse 

I was gonna say, I know. All these conversations are looping together, which like, I love. I was gonna say those five-day experiences, 11-day experiences again. You know, I know anybody who’s ever been to a retreat knows that those are effective for a reason. They become this like really beautiful and often quite healing, peak experience, right? Like you’re in it, everybody else around you is in it people are there with the same intention. It’s like we’re walking through coals. We’re like, we’re sitting around the fire, we’re airing grievances. Like we’re doing all this stuff. And I mean, they’re huge names in the self-help and personal growth world who make all their millions by doing this, right by having these like multi-day retreats. And what always stands out as a red flag to me when we’re looking at self-help versus self-harm, is that you already identified it, like, Oh, you thought the five days was good. You’re gonna love the 11 days. And if you’ve done one 11 days, why not stay for a second 11 days, right? And why not move here? Like, why not be a part of this? Wait till level two? 

 

Sarah

I know there’s truth in that. I know. There’s truth in that, right. Like, I’m god, I’m guilty of saying that. But I did believe it. 

 

Leisse

And I say to people like if you if people will be like, I love your podcast. I’m like, are you love the podcast? Wait till you work with me one on one because it’s true. And when you get misappropriate that what happens is that you create a peak experience for somebody that is not it feels healing, because Fuck, I just walked across coals Are you fucking kidding? You know, like, Man, this guy took me from being in a place of sadness. And 10 seconds later, I’m in a place of happiness. He must be a guru, he must know what he’s doing. I want more of that. But when you only have those peak experiences, particularly in those group environments, you bypass what actually needs to be healed? Always come to things for emotional health. Like you’re bypassing what actually needs to be healed from your past. And you’re now associating any healing that’s like so surface level that you experience and you relate that to somebody else who facilitated the facilitator the experience for you.

 

Sarah

So you have a little high the peak experience which is another red flag in calls and then that high yet gets attributed to the to the person place or and you think you need that and so that was the other irony is like Nancy doesn’t she’s saying don’t have a dependency, but like, everyone here is dependent on everything here to be okay. Yeah, like some people wouldn’t know how to function but I don’t know how many calories to eat. Why don’t you ask Keith how many calories? What, he’s not a fucking nutritionist? Yeah, you know, and that was the kind of thing that was going on in my, on my in my head. Like I realized this. Am I allowed to say this? It should be fine. Okay, just on Mike Rinder and Leah Remini. Is podcast right on right on, which I’m super excited about. And you know, Leah Remini’s book is Troublemaker. And I realized I wasn’t a troublemaker. I was a good girl. But on the inside, I was a troublemaker. Yeah. And I was a rule follower. And to the point where like, nippy would leave early from a forum and like, nippy you can’t my husband leave early, like so what are they going to do cut my pay? Because we never made any money. Well, that’s the other thing is most people didn’t. And that’s a chapter in my book when Keith reveals that it’s all been an illusion. I was like, Oh, you motherfucker. I didn’t figure it out. Then I was too in a daze. I was in a trance. At that point. I was like, What illusion of hope? Did he just say that? But I did make money. And they used me as the poster child, like, Sarah can do this. Anyone can do it. And if you weren’t doing it, it was because you were lazy, or you were fearful or you hadn’t worked through your issues. It wasn’t the companies fault.

 

Leisse

So because you are at fault for your life, they have no accountability. And if there’s any, if you can’t do it, it must be a shortcoming on your behalf because there’s no victim. Yeah, like, it’s, it’s like, and I’m gonna say this very gently, like, on the one hand, it’s a perfect design. And it’s the perfect design to take advantage of people, right. And even though there is some truth in that, but right, like, there’s some truth in that we are at cause for our life, we do need to take responsibility and accountability for our actions. And if you choose to see yourself as a victim, you’re very likely you’ll become victimized. And also, we’re not starting with an even playing field, right? We have different access to different resources like we have a litany of different experiences and circumstances that do not create an equal playing ground and our life experience is not going to be equal for that specific reason. But then to use that against you and be like, well, Sarah did it so can you is like it’s not it’s true, and it’s so not true at the same time. I see that in and people are gonna hate this, but oh, well, like I see that in multi-level marketing. All the time. They’re like two people who are at the top who are shining examples are like, look what she that she can do it, you can do it and it’s like, you want to talk about her adrenal failure at the top and like what it actually took for her to get there, and how it’s unbelievable. And I look at people who are coming in on the ground floor, and I’m like you, you won’t get there. I will tell you right now, that’s not a limiting belief. It’s not a perception. The system is not designed to support your success. 

 

Sarah 

Yeah. It’s an illusion of hope. In fact, they need a bunch of worker bees at the bottom. Yeah, no, to get things moving and to generate a certain amount of, you know, the volume coming in, but it’s not designed for everyone to have a Hummer and move to Hawaii. That’s gonna be an episode on our in our podcast. Good.

 

Leisse

Okay, what else is on your list of like things to look for? Or the self-help versus self-harm? slippery slope.

 

Sarah 

Oh, yeah, we when, when there’s somebody who is at the top, you know, let’s talk about like most cults have a charismatic leader. And you know, everyone’s enthralled. And I didn’t know this until I read this book called to take back your life. She’s actually, I’m narrating her book right now, for her to book on audible. I’m gonna have her on the podcast as well, officially, but I just love her. And she explained that her book that didn’t know this that enthralled comes from, I’m gonna butcher this man, that it has to do with being like enslaved by. So we didn’t know that I didn’t know this. But like someone’s charismatic and they hold that. That’s a tool they can use with people but really the charisma is in the eye of the beholder. So people see him a certain way and idolize him or, you know, hoist him up as this guru. Then he can hold an immense amount of power and then abuse it. And I think like some people would meet him and be like, I don’t get it. Like what’s so special about him? And then Nancy would say, isn’t it amazing how he’s able to bring himself to our level and just be so normal? 

Leisse

Like just barf, barf, barf, right? Like, the guy is a fucking schlub.

 

Sarah

And then that was turned into like how kind of him to help normalize itself so that we can relate to him as a human versus a god.

 

Leisse

What an asshole. Like how gracious of him to descend from Mount Olympus and be among mere mortals, please, 

 

Sarah

Yeah, I know. That I think anytime there’s someone that’s like, you know, that claims to have the answers that you can, that you can, and I, in many ways, I feel like he knew some of these things and kind of preempted it. And would say things like I’m not your guru, guys. Like, if I was your guru, you’d all be doing your goals, which you’re not. Like, it was almost like this foe humble. Yeah, kind of thing. But I think that even if somebody doesn’t want that, you know, like other like, you know, Tony Robbins, I don’t, I’ve never been to his thing. I’ve seen his workshops. In fact, when I saw I’m Not your Guru. I thought that’s a well-produced, highly oiled machine. And it’s like, it’s like, what our seminars look like on crack. Because ours was like, 20-30 people he had 1000s. With bleachers. And you know, we had binders they weren’t as nice. Yeah, we have. We have music at the break to pump you up. Yes. And that’s and then you know, we would even say negative things about Tony Robbins like Tony Robbins is all like, rah, rah rock concert, you get pumped, you get high and then you come down. Ours is life-changing. I don’t think that I don’t think, I mean, I don’t know him. It does. It doesn’t appear that he’s sociopathic, narcissistic, you know, sex-addicted douchebag he’s doing his courses, and he’s teaching and people but people still may idolize him. I don’t know if he demands that. Or if he asked for that. Oh, no, I have nothing to say about it. What I’m saying is that there is a distinction, I think was part of the culture like in Nxivm, the culture was, you know, oh, my god, did you hear Keith is doing a forum tonight, everyone would drop everything that they’re doing, yeah. To be at the forum to see what words of wisdom he might be dispelling. And if you didn’t come or if you were late or left early, like I got in trouble once for eating an apple at the back of the forum, at 2 am because I was so tired, and needed a little sugar. You know, like, it was a thing and that’s when someone is propped up so high. That’s definitely a problem. And also with no checks and balances. Zero accountability.

 

Leisse

Zero accountability, when everybody else is a disciple. And you know, so let’s look at something like that. Because there’s such a difference between leadership and inspiration and mentorship versus discipleship, right. So like, do you like Brene Brown? 

 

Sarah

I do. Yeah. 

Leisse

So I saw Brene brown speak a few years ago in LA and she’s like, you know, she seems like an amazing woman. Her message is so beautiful, but it is turned back on the individual. And it’s caused for self-reflection, right? I love Bernie Brown. And by no means would I give blind trust and blind faith to doing whatever Bernie brown tells me to do right there set B and she doesn’t demand that she doesn’t expect that that’s like against her messaging, versus other folks who again, that charismatic leader persona of like, just do what I say. And you know, I know you feel that way. But it’s only because you’re feeling this way. So actually just listen to what I have to say tuna way you have to say, entrusted. This is the right way. Right. subtle, but really powerful difference. 

 

Sarah

A huge difference. And another episode that we’re going to do on our podcast is about you know that I’m an actor, right? So I’ve been through a number of different acting programs. And there’s one I’d actually just realized this recently, I’ve been involved now in three cults Nxivm was the last but before that was, I mean, it wasn’t getting too involved but took Bikram yoga. I didn’t do Osho Oh, no, I think if I was 18, in Oregon, I totally would have joined 100% down. Good luck. Then, yeah, I was in an acting program in the early 2000s. That I’ve since found out that the leader has been like run out of LA for being a malignant narcissist, and just like ruining lives, and it doesn’t. And I laughed because I felt it culty and I didn’t even have the language for it. Like I, I was insular. And I didn’t like how, like, she just pushed boundaries in a way that like, if you laughed, and because this is what happened when I left if I let people laugh, they weren’t ready to do the work. You know, they just weren’t brave enough. And that was an effect their acting career as well. Yeah, it’s just awful. 

 

Leisse

Well, and there’s another one, I’m not going to say the name of it, because I don’t think that’s my place to do so. But there’s one that I believe is Canadian, actually. And was really celebrated by a lot of corporations. And one of the first things that you learn is that when you go back home, nobody’s going to understand you, you know, subtext, we’re going to give you a whole bunch of proprietary language to use so that literally, nobody understands you, you feel more isolated at home, they feel like you’ve gone off your rocker or like they need to come in and join you to understand and participate in what you’re talking about. And it’s like, you can do good things within these, like, you know, you can have these good experiences. But when there are all kinds of conditions set up or there’s kind of languaging setup, there’s exclusivity, and there’s that message of like, well, other people just won’t understand right? Or you know, if you leave I guess it just means you just weren’t committed to the work. It’s so it’s so detrimental.

 

Sarah

I’m so dying to know that group.

 

Leisse

I’ll tell you when we hang out, I don’t want to say that in public. Anything, make your list anything else on my list? 

 

Sarah

It was spot, the list is called spot the shyster. There’s pressure to sign up. And by the way, if anyone’s listening to this, I take full ownership that I did all these things. Yeah, I fully was a flying monkey for Keith and said, Oh, are you going to sign up? Do you know if you sign up in the next 48 hours and get 20%? off? I mean, who doesn’t want to save 20%? 

 

Leisse 

Oh, right. I’ve got stuff under that. I’m like, I know that marketing tool works. And personally, I refuse to use it because it feels so icky. And but it also’s taught in many different it’s not just an LLP. It’s not just a guilty thing. It’s like it’s taught by business coaches, it’s taught by marketing coaches like it’s an actual tool, and I don’t think it’s right.

 

Sarah

No, it’s not right. But it works because people are excited. And if you don’t sign up, when your excitement, the feeling fades, and then you forget about it, you’re back to your life. I get why it’s there. And I and, you know, people have said to me, kind of one producer on an interview I said, like, you know what, Sarah, you were a top recruiter for a shitty product. It really should be brought up, you know, you should consider sales. And I’m like, Are you kidding me? I can’t even like barely invite someone to a movie. And I’m not even benefiting from that movie. Do you know what I mean? Like, I can’t just the whole thing is so gross to me. Even people try to sell me stuff. I just can smell the tactics. And by the way, I learned them all. I learned them all from Keith. 

 

Leisse 

I was gonna say you learned from the best slash worst.

 

Sarah

That’s the thing is that like, sales doesn’t have to be unethical. It doesn’t, doesn’t have to be those things. It’s just a tool again, right? 

 

Leisse 

And if you really believed in your product, which is sales, right like to really believe in what you’re selling and typically cultivate a genuine relationship which, I don’t know.

 

Sarah

That’s the problem. And maybe you can rewire my brain on that, is that I really did believe in what I was selling. I was so gung ho, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. And then to find out not only was it bad, but it was like the opposite of what I was teaching. Instead of freedom. It was enslavement.  It took a real hit to my morality into my whole personhood, and I’m still pulling myself part of me being so public with the book and doc and the podcast because I am still wanting to figure it out help people and that, for me, that’s part of my healing. Yeah, for me. 

 

Leisse

Well, I mean, thank you for sharing that. And you know, for what it’s worth, for what it’s worth, like. You believed in serving people, you had had an experience that helped you like, yes, there were red flags, and I appreciate that. And yes, that is also part of the human experience, because we’re fucking flawed. We don’t get it right the first time, right. You know, I think you say in the documentary, one of the earliest interviews that you really wanted to have, and I’m like, paraphrasing, but you really wanted to have an impact on the world and really, like, help people. And it’s like, well, that’s a cruel fucking joke, isn’t it? But you’ve had to go through all of this, in order to reach this level of genuine service. But I feel like you believe so deeply in what you were selling because you’d also had a really positive experience in a lot of different ways in what you were experiencing, right? And it’s like, yeah, that’s all the good stuff, and I healing this level of healing. It involves so much radical acceptance, and so much forgiveness. And then the fucker of it all is that like, once you hit that next level of like, okay, I forgive this part of me, and I really accept to this happened, it’s like, Oh, beautiful, you’ve created such safe emotional space, that now you have to go deeper, or you don’t have to, you can go deeper and like, forgive other parts of you. And I feel like, from where I stand, that’s going to be a part of your healing experience. The hard part, I would guess, and I really, I want to ask you this question is like, you know, this kind of modality can be so healing, it is so effective. But now, I wonder if you’re in a position where the healing also becomes its own trigger because it violated your trust so dramatically before?

 

Sarah

You mean, in terms of just the concept of healing?

 

Leisse

The concept of healing and self-development, and I mean, self-development, self-development from a place of like, we are heading forward. And here I am now, and I feel like I’m still learning these lessons. I’m still practicing putting this stuff into practice. Like, what’s your level of trust? Like for your own? It’s so personal? And if that’s too vulnerable? 

 

Sarah

Oh, no, not at all. I mean, it’s been a journey, like the first couple of people that I spoke to. Like, first of all, I have to heal with people generally who have experience in this domain. Yeah. Because even just certain words and I also got this from Janya’s book, certain words, are triggers. In fact, even for me, the word trigger is a trigger. Because that we were taught, we taught NLP, we taught how to change states, you know, with triggers, and we taught how to bring a trigger that was a problem and change it into something else. And just like I said, the industry is a trigger, I don’t, I had to really find the right therapist, and I have like a team now I have right on the edge to cult specialists to speak to regularly not so much now. But in the beginning. I have like an energy healer, spiritual coach, you know, who does all the other what many people would call woo-woo. But I don’t care. It works. I feel good. And then and then if you and I have a couples counselor, who we love to work on everything else. So you know, I think as long as people are open to bringing up like to work on stuff with me as it comes up. Like, I’ll give an example. Like there are just certain ways of even asking questions that you need to as a counselor, or therapist, or coach, that are similar ways of what we used to do. So that can, it can just feel it can just be like, Oh, don’t ask me though. Don’t you can’t ask me that. You can ask them in that way. Yeah, like just to say, What do you mean? What do you make that mean? Is that such an overused thing? And generally, if I feel like I’m pretty trusting again, nippy, and I actually just recorded our, the intro to our podcast, and we were saying how much we you know, for all the shitty dark stuff that we’ve gone through, we have just been exposed to so much abundance of light and love and care. Like, not only an equal amount to counteract but way more than that. Yeah. And, and we’re just so grateful and I’m very my faith has been restored. In terms of trusting again and I just I’m just not going to join any groups. I’m not gonna join a group. I’m going to from now on always research better someone’s credentials. I don’t really feel the need to like, grow, I guess that is what it is like, personal growth is such a thing. And I was on this hamster wheel. Yeah, but like, more into this is a type of growth is just a different word for me, I guess. But like just more into like settling into who I am. And not trying to like, like, I was trying to change things like I had the control stuff, I’m like, I need to work on this. Like, I don’t like who I am. And yeah, versus like, you know what I don’t. So what I have to sleep with earplugs, and then I’m asked like, how is that a problem? That’s who I am. And, you know, it just, it just led us less of a pressure on myself, I think to constantly being like, critiquing myself, which doesn’t feel good. 

 

Leisse 

Well, it’s presence, right? It’s shifting back into presence and letting that presence be enough of your gross. Anybody who’s trying to practice presence knows that is next-level growth like it like to be able to stay in the moment and keep yourself anchored at the moment. Yep, we’re talking like, Ascension here. Because that’s, that’s a big ask to be able to be in the now and have that be enough, right? I interviewed somebody recently. Caleb and Kara Campbell. And Caleb is a former NFL player. And he’s so open about, you know, he was at practice. And from what I understand, like practices, everything in the NFL like it, it secures your spot. And you know, he’s had like the best practice of his life. And he’s feeling really good. And he’s feeling really confident. And they go back to watch the game film together. And the coach is like, if you fucking do this shit again, you’re done. And you know, he’s sitting in this peak experience in his own life. He’s fucking made it to the NFL. He’s a West Point grad. And he’s in the locker room being like, it’s not enough. Like when does it become enough? And I feel like that’s what you’re saying is shifting back to now and be like, now is enough. Yeah, I always find that very mind bendy. 

 

Sarah

Yes, now is enough. Am I gonna get that in the package? I listened to your interview with Molly and I heard about this package, do I get a package to

Leisse 

I can send you my bundle.

 

Sarah 

Does it say that in the bundle somewhere? 

 

Leisse 

Somewhere in the book, it says that because like my book, it literally is. It’s a self-love manifesto. And it’s an instruction manual that I have the so again, like, I actually want to speak to Mark Vicenta, about quantum physics. Because like, I wrote the book that I needed in the past. Right? Sounds so arrogant. But I think it’s also so funny. Every now, every now and then I pick up the book and I’m like, holy shit. That’s good advice. Yeah, Leisse you wrote it. Like, of course, you connect with that, because it’s exactly what you need to do here.

 

Sarah

But you shouldn’t be writing anything else. Otherwise, you’re the choice. You can’t be a shyster. You’re the real deal. 

 

Leisse

I am the real deal. I am not an advisor. And I definitely walk my own talk. I literally read my own advice and take action on it. But I talk about the feeling of enough a lot because again, you know, the first 35 years of my own life, nothing was ever enough. And you know, like that wake-up call for me, which, you know, I kind of joke like we call it a midlife crisis. And we shame it and like, let’s celebrate it. Because if you have that critical point, that crisis point of your life of like, what the fuck have I been doing? Let’s celebrate that. And then that’s like rewrite the stories and the patterns that came from there, right. But from my own story, it was like I had that wake-up moment of like, Oh my god, nothing will ever be enough for you until you are enough for you. So that feeling of enoughness that story of not enough is so intimate for me. That presence I think is like the antidote to being able to bring yourself back to the present and really believe. And sometimes you have to like, say it until you can believe it right? But like, I am enough, I have enough. I trust love. I just trust myself to be here now. 

 

Sarah

Have you had a chance? I totally agree and tangent, but have you had a chance to finish my book by any chance?

 

Leisse

I’m halfway. 

 

Sarah

Okay, wait. I’m opening up. I’m opening up something in my office here. Give me one sec. Okay. I’m gonna make a noise. Okay, so I’ve got my book and I’m gonna read you this something really quick. I didn’t have this lined up because I was gonna do this. And I promise. I think this, I think this resonates. Let me just say this. Healing after a betrayal takes time. It’s a deep wound that can easily be reopened. telling my story, I’ll be it in perfectly. And doing what feels like the right thing, even in the face of great adversity has been the best way for me to heal. I hope what I’ve learned will help others how to spot danger, avoid abusive relationships, to have the strength to leave. And to know no matter what anyone else says, You are loved. You are whole. And you’re already complete.

 

Leisse

Wipes tears from eyes. That’s so that’s so beautiful. And it’s so true.

 

Sarah

Thank you.

 

Leisse

It’s so beautiful. You’re taking your own advice.

 

Sarah

Such good advice. It is I wish I’d known that when I was 16. 

 

Leisse

Which is why you wrote it now. And like let’s get Mark on the show when he can tell us of this how-to-like tap into both timelines at the same time. But it’s like the future you wrote the book for past use of the present you can experience.

 

Sarah

Yes, absolutely. I think you’re amazing.

 

Leisse 

We’re amazing.

 

Sarah

Thank you. So this is like such a bonus of COVID don’t you think? Have this platform and ability to meet amazing. I mean, I feel the same way about Molly’s is to say hi by the way. Eric Holder is doing your podcast. She’s amazing. She’s coming on the show do it’s just great. Like I really want to start a club, not a cult.

 

Leisse

I would join this group for what it’s worth. I’d join this group. 

 

Sarah

Just like get together get a whiteboard out, brainstorm help each other. Do you follow Kelly Wolf?

 

Leisse

Kelly wolf is also going to be on my show. I found her through you. 

 

Sarah

Yeah, Kelly is amazing. And we’ve been trying to do that as well. We just you know, kids and everything. But yeah. We want to do that together because we go for walks and it’s like that we kind of back and forth and not necessarily coaching each other but it’s more like, Well, what about this? It’s like coaching light with friends. It’s holding that space, right? 

 

Leisse

Yeah. And I feel like people like to say like-minded it’s not is we don’t want to be around like-minded people. That gets a little bit culty Yeah, pun intended. It’s like valued. We want to err on like valued people. And I have done podcasts. And I’ve written posts about like, beware the female empowerment brand, like be where it is buyer beware. It’s like you want to be around people who support your growth because they value you as an individual. There’s no they don’t feel threatened by you. They don’t feel superior to you. That’s, I would argue that’s very rare. That’s a very rare dynamic, which is why the benefit of coaching is so huge because it’s unconditional. The condition is you pay me and I hold that space for you. Right friends are it’s harder to hold that space. 

 

Sarah

Yes. But well, that you actually just pointed something that I hadn’t realized. Is that why it’s been tough for many of the people that I met in the program like why we can’t have normal healthy friendships is because of the ranking system. And the authority. Like, I don’t need to be that anymore. And they’re like, You’re not my green sash. And like, I don’t care about it. But my friends that I had before and friends that I’ve met since like, Kelly No, I don’t think I’m better. I don’t feel like she thinks she’s better. But when I was in the cult, I did think I was better. Yes, I was walking around thinking, I know more than anybody else even likes, the, you know, started and I was in a different relationship than within the nippy the guy married. And we tried to see a counselor just before we broke up. And I was like, the whole time rolling my eyes going, this guy doesn’t know. I know way more than him about the human psychodynamic. So that was $200 wasted. But I was wrong. It’s actually the same guy I see now. He’s amazing. I’m sorry, I judged you 15 years ago. Which by the way, a story I have to tell you really quickly because I know we’re, we’re almost out. But I have to tell you one of the reasons why I said yes. Even before I looked you up. Because your podcast was named How to be, How to be a Human. And so if you’ve said we’ve read half the books, so David, which is his name in my book, not his real name, my boyfriend that I started. The same guy that left the dishes in the sink. We’re still friends, and I’m, I love him. And he’s like the best and just amazing. But we had a fight before we broke up. And I’ll never forget this because he was a Nxivm to write and we got one of the problems of dating in Nxivm is that we’ve kind of like weaponize the terms and poach each other and just be assholes generally to each other, all of us. And we go into this fight and he was he said something like, you know, you know what, you know what module in the module needs to take like 500 times. Crime and Punishment. I said this to him. I said you need to take Crime and Punishment right now because you were totally punishing me with a surplus which is like a message. And he goes, you know what module you need to take, How to be a Human.

 

Leisse

Sarah!

 

Sarah

And I will never ever forget it. We laugh about it all the time that was his big zinger.  

 

Leisse

Oh my God. Oh, God, I hope it didn’t trigger you when I reached out. 

 

Sarah

I actually thought it was a sign. I thought it was, I felt like I’m gonna do this because I need to learn how to be a human.

 

Leisse

That is so funny. Oh, my God. Where can people find you, the new podcast is coming. Where can people find you? 

 

Sarah

Well, Instagram, @sarahedmondson, like a son of Edmund. And the podcast will be out by the time this has aired, and it’s called A Little Bit Culty. Looking at the difference between dysfunction and devotion, all of these topics we’ve been talking about today. And it’s me and nippy, we’re doing it together, which has been really fun and healing. 

 

Leisse 

He’s also very handsome. And I’ve been like dying to tell you that since we first connected on Instagram, like, you are a beautiful woman. He’s a beautiful man. 

 

Sarah

If he was here, he’d be like, it’s just science. 

 

Leisse

Cuz he has like, the quarterback jawline.

 

Sarah

I know. And this is like the irony of this too, is that I was such a like high school drama nerd. And never would have landed the quarterback. And here I am. So it all felt like my childhood fantasy. My husband. And he’s great. He’s been amazing during this whole thing. And, and we’re, I’m so happy to have a project with him. That’s positive. 

 

Leisse 

That’s so wonderful. It’s man, like, what an honor. What a pleasure. Thank you so much for spending this time with me today. 

 

Sarah

Thank you for having me on. We probably could go on for hours but your listeners will be like, I’m supposed to be like 40 minutes, wrap it up.

 

Leisse

Okay, thank you so much. 

 

Sarah

Thank you, I’ll come back anytime.

 

 

There is no magic formula, except knowing that the magic formula is that we are all figuring this out that there is no real endpoint. Each and every one of us is in a process of self-creation. What if there is no right way? What if there is no wrong way? What if there’s just your way? How freeing would it be to know that every decision you make is the right decision for you? Can you love yourself enough to detach from the outcome or from judging that things are good or bad and accepting that? They just are. Yeah, you fucking can.

Have questions? Comment? Enjoyed this episode? Want to connect with me on social media?  Wahoo!

Instagram: @leissewilcox

Website: leissewilcox.ca

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