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Do you have thoughts about how the word “trauma” and other therapy-speak terms have bled into our day-to-day conversations in person, at work, and on social media?

Do you feel pressure to perform being “okay,” even when you’re anything but?

Have you ever pursued a project or career milestone only to realize, once you achieved it, that it no longer fits your life, values, or interests?

Today’s guest is a long-time, respected colleague who joins me for a profound and thought-provoking conversation about all of the above and then some. It’s a privilege to have people with whom we can engage in deep conversations without hesitation or self-editing; this chat is no exception.

Our guest, Sarah Buino, is a renowned speaker, educator, and therapist. She is the founder of Head/Heart Therapy, Inc. and Head/Heart Business Therapy, and a member of the adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago. Sarah is also a podcast host, known for her series, ‘Conversations With a Wounded Healer’ and ‘The Burnt Out Practice Owner.’ Her work focuses on the role of personal healing in caregiving and the challenges of group therapy practice ownership.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How the concept of ordinary trauma helped Sarah recognize what was and wasn’t her responsibility as she healed
  • The essential difference between discomfort and trauma and how it relates to our relationship with agency
  • Why being “okay” is just a data point, not a destination
  • How mindful awareness sets the stage for healing, regardless of modality
  • Why Sarah maintains that therapy is political and that we have to lead through values and relationships
  • How Sarah and her colleagues brought their values into their group practice
  • How Sarah came to realize that she was done owning her practice and ready to move on

Learn more about Sarah Buino:

Learn more about Rebecca:



[Inspirational Intro Music]

Sarah Buino: Being able to recognize a very balanced of what’s mine and what’s not mine was crucial to my healing journey, and that’s why I think the concept of ordinary trauma’s important to give other people the opportunity of taking their agency back and stop blaming themselves and shaming themselves and truly harming themselves thinking that they’re supposed to heal something that wasn’t theirs to begin with. 

Rebecca Ching: What are your thoughts on how the word trauma or how other therapy speak terms are used in pop culture, business spaces, online spaces, and how they’re being used in our day-to-day conversations. What comes up for you around the pressure to be okay regardless of how you feel, and have you ever pursued something or built something you wanted for a long time but later realized it no longer fits your life and your values and your interests? Lastly, do you have a person in your life that you can drop deep into conversation even though you haven’t spoken for months and talk, without hesitation or editing, about all the things you care deeply about?

Now, these things I just listed are things that I care deeply about, and I brought in a colleague of mine to do just that, just to have a check in and talk about things that we care about, and you get to listen in on one of these conversations that I had with a respected and wise colleague that I’ve known for years. We jump right in and talk about some hot topics with nuance, complexity, and care.

Today’s Unburdened Leader podcast episode will sound like many conversations I share with you, but as I started reflecting on it, it just felt like two colleagues catching up after a while on shared topics they care deeply about, and y’all get to listen to our catch-up conversation addressing topics that we care a lot about in the spaces that we work and where we do have enough training and experience to have some understandable opinions on topics like trauma, bypassing, healing, leadership, and how we care for ourselves while caring for so many.


I have to say, it really is a gift to know colleagues like my guest today, folks that you don’t have to talk daily. You hop on a call and get into a deep conversation with in seconds, discussing things that you care about with respect, authority, and curiosity. I mean, it’s undoubtedly an occupational hazard how quickly I go deep on things. I mean, light and breezy, I don’t know how to do it well. A lot of people that I know don’t, and I don’t think it’s good or bad. It just is.

And so, yeah, I can go deep in my conversations and my ability for small talk continually diminishes as I get older, and I can even talk about my garden, but then I’m going deep on all the different things around tomatoes and soil. It just is, and I think we all have our own thing, right? We all have our own thing, and it’s just so important to find others where we connect with that way. I think we feel a little less lonely, and I think it’s just important for our own wellbeing.

For me to have colleagues that want to connect and do the same deep talks helps me feel less alone, and I appreciate the ease with which we can go deep on something but still have it feel lighthearted and playful. I think, best of all, I love how I feel when I leave a conversation like this. I feel, for me — it may be hard to believe for some of you, but I feel refreshed. I feel energized from being challenged and encouraged and even clear on issues I care about.


These kinds of relationships are hard to come by these days, and I feel really honored to have folks like this in my life, and I recognize how important it is to all of our personal and professional well-being to stay connected with folks that you can be you with and geek out on the things that you care about and you’re excited about, whatever that is.

You know, whether you’re new to the show or have been around for a while, I know you are aware that I have a deep commitment and appreciation for nuance and complexity, and this conversation doesn’t disappoint as we dig into a lot of nuances around how we talk about trauma and what trauma is and what my guest calls ordinary trauma and how the role of social media and trauma discussions in pop culture impacts how and who gets help and how we treat and help people heal individually and also within larger systems.

We also had this really cool back and forth about this incessant drive to be okay, to avoid struggle or being seen struggling. This fear of not belonging or being rejected if people don’t think that you can handle it all and if you show your humanity. And so, this was also really meaningful for me, too. No surprise to you, we live in a very complex world, and we talked about how we lead ourselves and others in our own healing process and show up with a sense of curiosity as best we can with everyone in front of us and show compassion. When we can’t do that, we take that as data that we need to dig in and do some more of our healing.

I suspect many of you will also appreciate the part of our conversation that we touched on when you do something, build something, create something, or you’re in a job that you’ve wanted for so long, and then you realize once you’ve had it, you’ve done it, and then you’re done. It no longer suits you, which is another theme that we talk about on the show.


I think today’s guest brought some really beautiful and relatable insights on her journey of transitioning from something she built and loved to moving to other things with a lot of clarity and a lot of vulnerability too. So you all, please meet my friend and colleague, Sarah Buino.

Sarah is a speaker, an educator, a therapist. She’s the founder of a therapy practice called Head Heart Therapy and a consulting organization called Head Heart Business Therapy. She’s a member of the adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago and a podcast host. I was honored to be on her podcast. I’m so glad she is finally joining me on mine! Her podcast is called Conversations with a Wounded Healer and examines the role of one’s healing while being a caregiving professional. Her new podcast series The Burnt Out Practice Owner discusses the current state of group therapy practice ownership, the good and the bad and the ugly. Oh, we’ve got some stories on that one.

So as you kind of listen in to folks catching up after a while, talking about the things that we link to nerd out about, pay attention to when Sarah addresses this quote that I shared about pop culture’s use of trauma. And listen for Sarah sharing some of her own healing journey and the parallel process. So she trained with some of the most effective and evidence-based modalities we use in psychotherapy and leadership practices and just her own awareness of connecting with the work, with the leaders, and how that led her to better trusting herself. Notice when Sarah shared her reflections on our conversation about the almost idolatrous and obsessive pursuit of being okay. Now, please welcome Sarah Buino to The Unburdened Leader podcast.


Sarah Buino, welcome to The Unburdened Leader podcast!

Sarah Buino: Yay! Thank you for having me.

Rebecca Ching: This is a treat. I’ve been thinking about — you’ve been on my wishlist since I started this show. I have a lot of people I’ve been slowly getting on the show over the time.

Sarah Buino: I know, right?

Rebecca Ching: And I’m really, really thrilled for the conversation that we’re gonna have. I’m excited because we both have a lot of the same background, the same clinical background with a strong trauma focus, a lot of overlapping views and also forward-facing, getting into a lot of the space with businesses and leaders. So really looking forward to this.

But I want to at least kick off having a brass tax conversation about trauma. I know for you, you write and talk a lot about trauma, and you’ve particularly honed in on this phrase, what you call ordinary trauma. So I’d love for you to define ordinary trauma and then add how this lens of trauma is different from conventional wisdom around how we talk about trauma.

Sarah Buino: So the idea of ordinary trauma came from my own experience. So I did not consider myself a trauma survivor until I started training in trauma and figured out more of what it was, right? So that’s sort of where it came from because I was like, “Eh, you know, I didn’t get beaten as a child other than being spanked,” which most of the children of the eighties did, right?

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Sarah Buino: And to my knowledge at that time, I didn’t think I had been sexually abused. The emotional abuse wasn’t that bad, right? It’s just whatever. And it wasn’t until I really learned about developmental trauma and relational trauma that I was able to say, “Oh, that was worse than I thought it was.”

Rebecca Ching: Right.


Sarah Buino: I mean, the best example that I have of ordinary trauma is my relationship with my mother. She was a lovely human. But our relationship was so fraught and so painful for both of us, really, not just on my end. But she was the mother, so I think she has more responsibility for the relationship. So everybody from the outside would be like, “Oh, you are so lucky to have a mom like that,” and I felt like she was always suffocating me, and I felt like I was never what she wanted me to be, and in hindsight, I look back and recognize she wanted me to be just a better version of her, but I was me. And the dissonance between what she expected and needed for her own self-esteem and self-worth was in contrast with me becoming my full, embodied self.

That’s not a very succinct definition for ordinary trauma. But it’s one of those things that it took me — how old am I? I’m 45 now — almost 45 years to really put my finger on what was happening between me and my mother that made me feel so shitty. Can I cuss, I hope? [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Oh, gosh. Yes.

Sarah Buino: Yeah. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: So just to dig a little further then, this ordinary trauma is to normalize maybe the things that we minimized?

Sarah Buino: Yes, exactly.

Rebecca Ching: And also validate that.

Sarah Buino: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: Because, you know, I mean, us Gen X-ers. Technically, are you a Gen-Xer?

Sarah Buino: Yeah, I am. Tail end. Tail end, yes.

Rebecca Ching: Tail end, all right.

Sarah Buino: I claim it. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Wise. Wise.

Sarah Buino: Right?

Rebecca Ching: We get forgotten a lot, but we’re special.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But, you know, there was a lot of just parentification and a lot of go do your own thing. But that relational and developmental trauma piece was so like, “That’s just how it was.”

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And to call it anything else was offensive, was sacrilegious, and/or maybe even hyperbolic like, “What’re you talking about?”

Sarah Buino: Exactly.


Rebecca Ching: But to call it this ordinary trauma isn’t to say the trauma itself is ordinary but it was just this ordinary occurrence is what I’m hearing from you?

Sarah Buino: Exactly. Exactly. And I think what’s important about calling it trauma versus something else, because, I mean, my whole life I was blaming myself. Like, “What is wrong with me?” 

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Sarah Buino: And I remember I always called her my first therapist. I had many therapists before her, but when I was in grad school she was my therapist, and so, it’s like MaryBeth, she was the one, and I remember asking her at one point, “Was it that bad or is there something wrong with me?” And at the time, she said, “Well, if you were the only one in your family that had bad experiences, maybe we would say that it’s you, some sort of characterological situation. But the fact that now there are five suicides that have happened in my lifetime on my mom’s side of the family. So there’s clear evidence that it’s not just me, that there’s something else going on in the system.

What helped me really heal was being able to not blame but put responsibility where responsibility lies, which is with my parents. I, as a child, up to the age of whatever my teen years, early twenties, I didn’t have control over my life. I didn’t have control over a lot of the decisions. Of course I was going to blame myself instead of blaming the environment, because that’s what children do. It was my parents’ responsibility to heal their stuff and get it out of the way so I wouldn’t have to also have to heal their stuff as I’m trying to become a human.

And so, being able to recognize a very balanced of what’s mine and what’s not mine was crucial to my healing journey, and that’s why I think the concept of ordinary trauma’s important to give other people the opportunity of taking their agency back and stop blaming themselves and shaming themselves and truly harming themselves, thinking that they’re supposed to heal something that wasn’t theirs to begin with.

Rebecca Ching: When a lot of people think about trauma, you know, it’s this extraordinary event.

Sarah Buino: Exactly. 


Rebecca Ching: And so, it’s ordinary in those moments and sometimes — and often, I should say — in plain sight because it was so in the air. That was kind of the homeostasis. It was the status quo. And so, that, I think, is really interesting because so many people I work with, and I suspect is the case for you, and, I mean, I’ve got a PhD in this myself, and you’re saying as much as we have a PhD and minimizing, rationalizing, justifying, denying.

Sarah Buino: Oh, my God.

Rebecca Ching: And this isn’t — there’s something about this I want to hear you flesh this out because there are a lot of folks saying, “Everything’s trauma.”

Sarah Buino: Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: No, I mean, something can be traumatic — well, that’s a whole other — we’ll get to that. But there is something to say that it is a very common occurrence that was so common that nobody saw that it was not okay.

Sarah Buino: Right.

Rebecca Ching: Okay.

Sarah Buino: Trauma is — is it the Robert Mapplethorpe quote that we know porn when we see it? [Laughs] We know trauma when we see it as therapists, right? And I actually interviewed Janina Fisher. It hasn’t been released on my podcast yet, but I got to talk with Janina, and I found it really interesting because she describes her childhood, and she says, “I am not a trauma survivor,” and I’m like, “That sounds crazy to me, Janina.” How can you work with trauma and not be a trauma survivor?

So she described her childhood, and as I was hearing her say what she was saying, I’m like, “Janina, if you were my client, I would ask if that felt like trauma because what I’m hearing codes as trauma in my therapist brain.” And she said, “My distinction for trauma is whether or not I still felt loved and safe.”


Rebecca Ching: Yeah, but I push back on that because I think that we can still feel loved but not safe or safe and not loved in ordinary trauma. That’s the mind F of it.

Sarah Buino: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But she had both. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, she had both, yeah. Fascinating. Wow.

Sarah Buino: Right? Right.

Rebecca Ching: That is fascinating, and I think the piece, though, about this is that we get to author our story and language it the way that we want to.

So in your work with clients and also in your work forward facing, you do a lot of talks, a lot of trainings over the years. When you talk about trauma, what are some of, maybe, the pushbacks you’ve had around ordinary trauma, and how is this approach to trauma different than some of that conventional wisdom that we were even trained in?

Sarah Buino: Yeah, I mean, I think conventionally, and it’s probably more colloquially now that people hear the word trauma and they think, “Oh, car accident” or “veteran” or you saw a very violent event happen or you were assaulted in some way. And so, I think ordinary trauma just sort of widens the capacity for what we call trauma. I haven’t had anybody push back to me, but of course what we’re seeing now I think it’s just like an overcorrection, right? Like you’re saying, our generation is like, “But we were traumatized!” And our parents were like, “Suck it up, buttercup.” And now the generations since then are like, “Well, everything is trauma,” and we’re like, “Mm, you special little snowflake.” So I think it’s just an overcorrection, right?

Rebecca Ching: We are whiplashing from overcorrections right now.

Sarah Buino: Right! And the thing that I’m seeing in social media culture right now, and actually truly in life, is sort of this demand for comfort, and if I am not comfortable, then it is trauma.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you.

Sarah Buino: I’m calling it like woke bypassing because it’s not spiritual. It’s some sort of woke, “I know the psychotherapy language.” But it’s bypassing. You’re bypassing the truth of what’s going on underneath you, which is you’re uncomfortable and you can’t sort out what’s trauma and what’s discomfort if you’re just calling everything trauma and throwing your hands up.


Rebecca Ching: And lack of safety. Yeah, we have a huge discomfort problem, and we have an emotional literacy problem too on how to language things.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But we also have a responsibility problem.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Where it’s either all you or all me depending on the person, right?

Sarah Buino: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: “It’s your job to make me feel good all the time.” No, actually. And it is your responsibility to create a space that is inclusive. And so, we’re in a dance right now, and I guess this makes me want to shift a little bit to the conversations on trauma that have gone mainstream in the last few years, particularly on the latest social media platforms, right? I think it’s been interesting for folks like you and I who have a couple decades of experience training this and then seeing it. It’s been great, on one hand, to see how accessible and these conversations that are coming out of the shadows, and then all of a sudden I feel like I’ve been like, “Wait, slow down! Well, no, well, actually, but, and,” you know?

I don’t know if you saw the article by Lexi Pandell. It was a couple years ago. She wrote it for Vox, and the title was, “How Trauma Became The Word of The Decade.”

Sarah Buino: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: And I want to read you a quote from it and get your thoughts.

Sarah Buino: Please.

Rebecca Ching: She wrote: “Some who study trauma, however, say current cultural references to the word have become a mess of tongue in cheek and casual mentions mixed with serious confessions and interrogations of the past, of definitional misunderstandings, and the absurd and the trivial and the profound and the sincere. The word hasn’t simply been watered down but adopted widely as a kind of cultural touchstone.”


So that’s a little bit what you were saying, but yeah, what comes up when you hear that quote?

Sarah Buino: Well, the first thing that comes up is be careful what you wish for, right? We, as therapists, have wanted everyone to go to therapy, and now everyone goes to therapy, okay? And this is what we get [Laughs] is everybody thinks they understand therapy now, and I think that people who use the word trauma in a way that it is not necessarily grounded, it’s lacking nuance. I think a big piece of this, and I got this from NARM, really, is — so agency is a big part of NARM, right?

Rebecca Ching: Real quick, can you say what NARM is? Because not everyone listening would know what that is.

Sarah Buino: Yeah, NeuroAffective Relational Model. It’s a model of developmental healing by Laurence Heller. So agency is, right, our ability to feel like we have — control is not the right word, but we have some effect on our life, right? And what NARM really highlights is how many people are either afraid of their own agency or reject their own agency. And if you do not have the capacity to tolerate your own agency, you’re gonna reject anything that feels like power, right? So there’s this kind of binary of, “I have no power,” or “I have all power,” and if I have experienced some level of trauma, and I feel like I have no agency, then I am going to play a victim and/or if I feel like I have no agency, I’m going to attack you to keep you at bay. Instead of getting in touch with really what my choices are, which often, if we’re really confronted with something that’s a problem, you have other choices like just leaving the relationship or X, Y, Z. But that lack of connection with agency seems to be a big piece of at least what I’m seeing people struggle with when it comes to what is trauma, how do I use that word wisely, how do I give responsibility back to who it was given to and not just blame myself.


Rebecca Ching: That takes a lot of efforting, right?

Sarah Buino: It takes a lot of work, yeah!

Rebecca Ching: It takes a lot of work, but I love the framework, and I think you have some background in this too, with right use of power where we all have personal power, but so many of the systems that we’re in want us to forget that.

Sarah Buino: Exactly.

Rebecca Ching: And when we forget it, it’s a cluster, and then we delegate our safety, our worthiness, and our power, and that can replicate. We can reenact different trauma experiences then because that’s our norm, right?

Sarah Buino: I literally talked about this with my therapist today because I’ve been sort of tracking my own healing, as I told you before we started recording. I’ve been — the journey to really heal my trauma started seven years ago when I had my first trauma training in sensorimotor psychotherapy. And so, I’ve been tracking myself and I love learning, and I am always on the lookout for a new class or whatever. It is my number one value I think is learning and education, and I can see myself in different learning environments desperate for a guru.

I mean, you and I met in Brené Brown’s training. I literally — when I first saw her speak in 2009 before anybody knew, you and I probably knew who she was and that was about it. And I saw her speak, and I thought, “A, I want to be you, and B, you have what I need to save me. You have it.” And so, I went to the training because once she told me what shame was, I was like, “That’s it! That’s the thing I’ve got to heal. That’s what I’ve got to fix.” And then I got mad at her when it didn’t fix it, and then I went into other trainings, and NARM was the next thing where I was like, “Larry, you clearly are the guru, and you have all of the answers,” and the fuckery of it is that it was all about my own agency. It was I was rejecting my agency. I was allowing myself to continue to feel like a victim to whatever circumstance around me, whether it be traumatic or not.


And being able to get into right relationship with my own agency and my own power, now I’m in a couple training programs, and I am able to relate to the person who’s teaching differently. It’s so subtle, but I’m not giving anything away while also allowing myself to believe they have more wisdom, different wisdom than I do.

Rebecca Ching: And I think you touch on something, too, and we see it in the psychotherapy space, but it’s everybody. My gosh, in the leadership and the business space, they have their own gurus, but it’s the same dynamic.

Sarah Buino: Yeah!

Rebecca Ching: It’s the same dynamic where in some spaces it’s cultivated. “Yes, I will be your everything,” and then it goes really dark.

Sarah Buino: Yep. 

Rebecca Ching: But I think even, too, in the psychotherapy space, there’s just also this, “My way is the best way to heal,” and it gets really gross. We’re taking away the agency of the person who’s hurt to decide, “Here’s a poo-poo platter of ways to heal, and here are some that I can offer. Is it a fit?” And that is so interesting, though, when we give up our power. And I think it’s a survival mechanism, right? I mean, it is that — 

Sarah Buino: Absolutely.

Rebecca Ching: — the freeze mode, and I mean, I’m a fawner extraordinaire. I mean, I went to go work in DC, so I know how to just fawn like there’s no tomorrow. It’s gross though.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But I literally think I start to scratch. My skin gets itchy if I’m like out of authenticity and saying something. I start to get itchy. My body’s like, “Nope. We’re not playing that anymore.” But I think no matter where we are, in any space, if we are not trying to delegate our power and our choices.”

And so, I’m curious what you would say, what do you see as the stakes right now in how we talk about trauma? Not just in clinical spaces, but I think just as a culture, you know, how we talk about trauma and how we talk about healing it and what happens in our effort to offer more accessibility, we collude with watering down or promoting one-size-fits-all tropes around trauma.


Sarah Buino: Yeah, I mean, I think there are so many distractions right now from what is real, right? It is a hard time to be alive. Let’s be honest. I think in our lifetimes, our age and younger, we’ve not been through a worse time, right? I mean, World War II and The Holocaust were horrific for people who survived that, but for our generation, this is probably the worst time in history. And it’s because it’s so hard to be human, people are grasping anywhere for some semblance of, “How can I be okay,” and the problem is when you continue to look outside for how I can be okay, you’re gonna get a lot of bullshit, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Sarah Buino: And so, I think it’s really crucial that we encourage some sort of slowing down and also a normalizing of the fact that it’s impossible to really be okay right now. I’m as okay as I can be, and I’ve got a lot of privilege that set me up for that, right?

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Sarah Buino: But I think we’re all teetering on some sort of not-okay edge just because there’s too much going on.

Rebecca Ching: Well, let me riff about this with you, Sarah, because, okay, and maybe this is just touching on some privilege stuff too, but there’s a bit of an obsession with some spaces of being okay all the time.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Versus, “How am I connected? Where’s my community? Where can I rest? Where’s that normalized?” I think we’re asking the wrong questions because I think —

Sarah Buino: Exactly.


Rebecca Ching: — for me, not being okay was demonized. I can put on the face. There has just been some stuff going on in my life that I just was like, “Holy cow. I know how to turn on the screen,” whether it’s with clients or meetings or different trainings I’ve been in, “and there’s stuff swirling around, and they have no idea.”

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And I’m like, “Am I okay, or is this resilience? Is this masking?” I just was stepping back looking at it a little bit. And so, what’s the permission, because I say to everyone too, it’s hard to be human, and there’s boundaries around that too because I’ve got clients who are leading teams with all these different generational differences, and we’ve got some folks that are just, “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine,” right? It’s the AA “fine.” You know, F-ed up, insecure, neurotic —

Sarah Buino: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: You know? I say emotionally overwhelmed because I don’t think it’s bad to be emotional.

Sarah Buino: Mm-hmm, exactly.

Rebecca Ching: And then you’ve got other folks that’re telling you your deepest, darkest secret right when they meet you because they just don’t have the filters and they think, “Well, this is what you do.” And folks are like, “This is so much.”

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So folks listening right now are carrying a lot. They’re just carrying a lot because they care big. I work with folks who just truly care, and there’s a cost in that, and there’s bravery in that. What is the obsession with being okay to maybe is that the wrong pursuit, or is it to be able to catch our breath? Is it to be able to tap out and tap in? I don’t know, but I don’t know if you can be okay when you really are connecting with what’s going on in the world, let alone our own stories. I’m a glass-is-half-full person, not in a bypassy way, but just I am a hopeful person. That’s been my survival mechanism, but I‘m a realist with it.


So is the pursuit of being okay the right pursuit at this point in time? If not, what is?

Sarah Buino: I mean, I wish I had the answer to that question. I mean, have you heard of Spiral Dynamics?

Rebecca Ching: Totally, and that’s like its own spiral, but yes, yes.

Sarah Buino: Well, I’m obsessed with Spiral Dynamics right now, and for me it makes a lot of sense.

Rebecca Ching: That’s awesome.

Sarah Buino: It feels a little too complicated to completely explain to listeners, but essentially, it’s a model of the development of human consciousness, right? I think that depending on what level you are seeking okayness from, it’s gonna look different. So if I am an orange, which is a very fact-based, capitalistically-driven, science-based place, I’m gonna be thinking about more of the material things, right? Do I have the physical needs to be okay? And some of us can answer that yes, some of us not, right? If I’m in green, which is more of a social justice sort of mentality, I’m thinking about my relationships and the quality of my emotional experience and all of that, right? I think that maybe part of what’s getting skewed is a lack of health in some of these different areas, and we’re sort of grasping for the wrong thing outside of what it is we actually need to fulfill where we are in the moment instead of where we aspire to be or where we’ve been in the past.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I appreciate that. I guess what I’m coming to is is being not okay something to fix or is it a data point?

Sarah Buino: I think it’s a data point.

Rebecca Ching: Exactly, and so, then when it comes to how we talk about trauma and how we approach healing it, this is gonna default whether it’s quick fix approaches on social media, and I see this a lot in the professional development spaces too.


Sarah Buino: Fuck quick fixes. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: In a nutshell.

Sarah Buino: Yeah. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Okay, so you beat me, jumping ahead to my question, but how do you see quick fix approaches to identifying healing trauma actually fuel burnout? I’d love for you to break down kind of what you see with the folks that you work with, because you work with — whether it’s with clients or you’re working with organizations and leaders, too.

Sarah Buino: Mm-hmm. Well, I think it goes back to your query around is our pursuit of okay working for us, and I think it’s similar to is what we’re measuring healed as contributing to our judging ourselves, right?

It’s funny, I have this client who is like an alien from outer space, and I love her so much, and we talk on different dimensions, and it’s so funny. We were just talking about the fact that she was basically like, “I had this idea that other ethereal beings had it all figured out, and what I’m coming to realize is that they are just as messy as humans,” and I think this is important because I think that we all have this belief that one day — even if we don’t have this conscious belief, we believe that one day we’re gonna arrive, and it’s not gonna be hard anymore.

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Sarah Buino: But what I learned in talking with her is even ethereal beings are messy, and so, how could we possibly get our shit together as humans?

So I guess it’s looking at sort of what are we aspiring to, and are we judging ourselves when we’re not there, or are we able to be compassionate with ourselves and say, “This is just part of the messy journey of life”?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I’ve started giving a disclaimer to my clients, my clinical and my leadership clients, saying, “By the end of our work, you’re still gonna feel like shit at times. It’s not gonna take you out for the intensity and duration. And it’s not going to impact you as often. But the more work you do, the more you heal, the more you grow, the more capacity you have for love, which means the more capacity you have for grief and for struggle.”


Sarah Buino: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: “So just want to be clear this is what you’re signing up for,” and they’re like, “Oh, that’s a crappy sales pitch.” [Laughs]

Sarah Buino: Yeah, because I’m not selling you anything.

Rebecca Ching: No, it’s called consent and full disclosure. [Laughs]

Sarah Buino: Right! Right, and, I mean, I hate the idea of outcomes. I’m taking this conscious marketing course right now, and I’m trying to shift my relationship because I realized nobody is going to buy what I’m selling if I don’t tell them that they’re gonna get something out of it afterwards, but I hate the idea of outcomes because I can’t tell you where your healing journey is gonna lead. I hope that it builds capacity. I hope that you feel like you have more resilience. I hope you feel like you have more consciousness online at the end of it. But I can’t guarantee that. You’re the only one who can.

[Inspirational Music]

Rebecca Ching: Leading is hard. Leading is also often controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, and your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and your action.

Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex, polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing it safe and small. Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights. It is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is both actionable and aligned.


When the stakes are high and you don’t want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than you were taught.

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

[Inspirational Music]

Rebecca Ching: I want to circle back to, you know, you said, “Fuck quick fix approaches,” and they are so attractive. I know I’m not the only one. Sometimes they catch my eye. I’m like, “Can this be true, please?”

Sarah Buino: Oh, yeah!

Rebecca Ching: “Please? Can these three steps really do this?” Or this one way of thinking or this one book, can this be the fix? And is there a time when you — I mean, you touched on it a little bit with when you started working with Brené and working on shame resilience because I think that’s something that all of us who are in that community were like — the curtain got pulled back.

Sarah Buino: This is the answer, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And there was so much witnessing that was happening in resonance that it was like dopamine upon dopamine moments. But it was validation. But we don’t talk about the work, and it’s actually poo-pooed. If it takes work, you’re the problem. If it’s windy, you’re the problem. How do you respond to that when people are frustrated with the pace of change or when they get frustrated, because I know the quick fix approaches are the ones that take people out and bring them to me. What do you say to folks when they’re struggling with that or even in your own experience when you struggle with those quick fix approaches that have been so seductive?

Sarah Buino: Well, I’ll tell you, there is one quick fix. 


Rebecca Ching: Do tell.

Sarah Buino: Meditation.

Rebecca Ching: Say more.

Sarah Buino: Meditation is the only thing that actually delivers on all of its promises. [Laughs] If you dedicate yourself to meditation, you will see changes in your brain, you will see decreased anxiety. I know that people who are in acute experiences of trauma are not gonna experience that right away.

Rebecca Ching: No. It’s counter productive at that point.

Sarah Buino: Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Sarah Buino: If you’re in an acute experience of trauma that you need to heal, do that first. But if you’re a general so-and-so, meditation is the one quick fix that I recommend to everyone. If you have things that come up, go see your therapist and talk about it, and they’ll walk you through what is safe. Because I think for people who have trauma experiences, sitting down and trying to clear your mind is not the type of meditation. Maybe you do walking meditation. Maybe you do tactile, feeling/touching things meditation that can be different. But that’s the one thing in all of the trainings and courses I’ve ever done, it always comes back to if you don’t have mindful awareness, you can’t do any of this stuff. And I think we live in a culture that has no reverence for mindful awareness.

Rebecca Ching: I think you’re onto something because if you look at all the different theoretical approaches, they all have some iteration, some component of a mindfulness practice.

Sarah Buino: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: And there are actually the big mindfulness theories out there and approaches. That makes a lot of sense too because mindfulness requires an embodiment and awareness, and we have to do the work to even get there.

Sarah Buino: Yes. Yes. Yes, exactly. You can’t short-circuit that. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: No! But you know something fascinating is people are like, “Are you sure?” I’m like, “I am. You can do things that will try to, but then you’ll come back here and feel worse.” I feel pretty confident in that.


What are some of the things — because, for me, what’s been the most meditative is that element of glimmers from Polyvagal Theory where just I’m really trying to notice, especially outside or when there are cool things happening with my kids. I’ve got teenagers now, and I just feel like they’re changing before my eyes, you know? Or a beautiful meal or a conversation. There’s something about the glimmers, which is not the full-on meditative practice, but it’s connected to that noticing.

Sarah Buino: I’d say it is. It’s kind of like trauma, right? If we can expand our definition of what meditation is, then there’s a lot more that’s included in that. Prayer is meditation.

Rebecca Ching: For sure.

Sarah Buino: What you’re doing is mindful noticing. I think that is meditation because what meditation is is inviting your mind to focus on something you want it to focus on instead of something else, right? So that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Rebecca Ching: Well, I appreciate that, and it’s just something I’ve had to be radical about because my nervous system was resisting it.

Sarah Buino: Mm-hmm. Yeah!

Rebecca Ching: My words of the year last year were space and pace, and it was like a total butt kicker on a whole nother level to really just — you know, especially when we both are Enneagram threes. Those parts of me that are just like, “Produce, perform, achieve.”

Sarah Buino: Yep. “Do more.”

Rebecca Ching: “Promote.” [Laughs] “Do.” To recalibrate that on a nervous-system level required meditation outside of Netflix shows. [Laughs]

Sarah Buino: And I relate to that too. It’s funny, we lived in Chicago. I lived in Chicago for 20 years, and then we decided to move just outside of the city, and I was terrified that I was not gonna be happy here, and as soon as I got here, literally the first night we went to bed, my husband was like, “It’s so quiet here.” And I felt so good, and I was shocked that I felt so good because most of my life my nervous system has been attuned to chaos and noise of some sort. And my therapist said to me, “You’ve widened your capacity to tolerate calm.” And that felt like the best compliment I’ve ever received.


Rebecca Ching: Yeah, that’s powerful. I gave all my clients this year Tricia Hersey’s Rest Cards, and they are loving it!

Sarah Buino: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: It’s so fun to hear them talk, but it’s like this side thing, and she’s saying, “No, rest is resistance. Rest is everything.”

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Which I want to use that to shift to another question because you talk about this on your podcast Wounded Healer, and you write about this, speak about this. I’d love for you to walk me through your thought process and belief that therapy is political. I’m thinking, “Okay, if therapy’s political, then healing, is that political, and does that make trauma political?” If so, why or why not?

Sarah Buino: It’s so funny. If you would have told 30-something-year-old me that I was interested in politics, I would have been like, “That girl sounds really boring.” [Laughs] But I guess I’ve found an interest in politics because I started to notice the interconnection of things, and I am connected to policies that are made, right? Because abortion is threatened in a lot of places — not in Illinois, thank God, but in a lot of places, that’s jacking up the nervous system of women and people with reproductive organs, right? And that is political. I think that is traumatizing for a lot of people who don’t have access to money or safety or medical care, right? That can be trauma for people, and that’s a political issue.

So I think it’s hard to extricate politics from anything nowadays, and, I mean, for somebody who is not really plugged into politics, it might not make sense, but I think that as therapists, it’s important for us to be plugged in enough to know what is — I’m a social worker by training, right? So what is the environment with which my client is coming to me, the impact of that environment and how that’s impacting their mental health.


Rebecca Ching: But there is this element, especially in the workplace, of, “Oh, don’t bring politics here.” And even we’re seeing this in therapy, and there’s a whole movement going on within the therapeutic space. We’re seeing this with leadership in almost ordinary political. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Sarah Buino: Mm, yeah!

Rebecca Ching: But it’s like what you’re doing.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: You know, the fact that we can tap out of caring about politics, but politics are still happening to us.

Sarah Buino: Yeah, exactly.

Rebecca Ching: Decisions are being made on all levels so we can, then, as you were saying, using our agency, we can surrender our agency or we can be a part of the conversation and the decision making. That makes a lot of sense.

So applying this same logic, do you see approaching leadership as political?

Sarah Buino: You know, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I think that leaders have more responsibility to track what’s happening with their team, and the political landscape is part of that tracking, right? No matter what industry you’re in, I’m gonna guess that almost every industry is impacted by some sort of political issue that’s happening right now. If it’s healthcare, then it’s abortion, right? If you work for some sort of product company, you’ve got environmental stuff that you’re dealing with, right? There are so many different levels where decisions that are being made on a political front are impacting your business.

And so, I think it’s wise for leaders to begin to develop some sort of political — I don’t know what the right word is but political understanding, political —

Rebecca Ching: Literacy.


Sarah Buino: Literacy! That’s the word I was looking for, thank you.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and I see folks afraid because it feels so polarizing.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But I bring it back to what are your values and living your values and being true to you.

Sarah Buino: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: People might disagree, but we can have conversations about that, and if someone doesn’t want to have a conversation, they just want to change you, it’s different. But yeah, there’s a lot of leverage — because there are some leaders that are responsible for large organizations that are doing some things that some may say are questionable, depending on how you view it, and they need some accountability.

Sarah Buino: Right, right.

Rebecca Ching: And so, it just — how is it not if you’re a part of a system that employs people, that produces something that impacts the environment, that helps people make a living so they can support their families.

Sarah Buino: Right.

Rebecca Ching: That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Sarah Buino: Mm-hmm. That’s a complaint that I have about sort of the social media zeitgeist and the social justice warriors on social media right now actually being oppressive sometimes in the way that they expect people to show up, and that is dangerous. That is very dangerous because they’re just reproducing what they’re trying to run away from. Again, that’s sort of what I was talking about earlier in terms of if we’re rejecting our agency, we’re either calling ourselves a victim or we’re attacking somebody else. I see that happening way too much right now, and I think you hit it on the nose. We have to be able to come to conversation, and that happens in relationship. One of the issues that we have in our culture right now is that a lot of people are lonely. A lot of people don’t have the depth of relationship that could withstand some really challenging conversations, right?

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Sarah Buino: It’s just so much. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and I think it’s that do I want to be right or do I want to be in relationship.


Sarah Buino: Precisely.

Rebecca Ching: Unless I know you, I’m not gonna be in your DMs talking about something, but a lot of people are self-silencing or not asking the questions or tapping out if they have the privilege to do so, and that’s why I think there’s a difference between everything’s politicized versus seeing that you have an impact in this political zeitgeist. You’re a part of the machine —

Sarah Buino: Absolutely.

Rebecca Ching: — in the way that our culture’s set up, and to embrace that from a values-led and a relational-led perspective.

Sarah Buino: Yes, values and relation — I want the listeners to really hear that. Yeah, values-led and relational-led. That’s the way we have to do this or we’re not gonna make it to the other side. We will destroy each other.

Rebecca Ching: We will. That’s what I’m saying. We need each other, and we do. We need to be in connection, and we need to keep doing our own healing process. Just to be able to sit with that with curiosity and difference means sitting with the discomfort that brings up because, I mean, there’s stuff that I know you and I hear sometimes. I have a part that says, “Wow, that was just said. All right. That was just said.”

It brings me back to after my Level One training in IFS, and one of the trainers that I met is just this really — I mean, I’d never met anyone who went through as much trauma as he went through, and I was asking him some things, especially related to my daughter, and he said, “You know, I specialize in working with perpetrators.” And there was a part of me that was like, “What?” I kind of did the head thing.

Sarah Buino: Wow.

Rebecca Ching: He was like, “Yeah, because why wouldn’t I?” I was like, “How could you do that with everything you’ve been through?” And he said, “That’s exactly why I’m doing it because if I really want to have less trauma in the world, I want to help those who are perpetrating trauma, heal.”

Sarah Buino: Exactly.

Rebecca Ching: It light-switched, and I came back to my group, and I’m like, “Y’all, we are welcoming everybody.” Because it was like we help those who’ve lost their power. But I’m like, oh, crap, it’s the same ecosystem, you know?


Sarah Buino: Yep, right, we’ve dehumanized and made villains out of people who also have had traumatized experiences, you know? And it’s not that — I think the nuance that’s lost is accountability doesn’t come from shame, right? We learn that from Brené Brown’s training that shame is not a positive motivator for behavior change. 

Rebecca Ching: Never, never.

Sarah Buino: Right.

Rebecca Ching: And it hurts the person shaming and it hurts the person being shamed is what she teaches, and she’s spot on.

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: It’s insidious. It gets its talents. It can feel effective, it can feel like justice, but it’s darkness. It doesn’t build connection ever.

Sarah Buino: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: So kind of riffing off the leadership as political, you just sold your group practice, but you led a group practice for many years. Tell me about a time when you look back that you embraced leading your group practice as political.

Sarah Buino: My friend Sarah Suzuki, we have a company called The Sarahs where we’re trying to do — we don’t like to call it the DEI Work because I think the DEI doesn’t necessarily have a soul in it. We like it to really be a soul endeavor and an embodied endeavor, but she and I went to a training because things started erupting in 2018 that we started to notice, and I was like, “Ooh, you and I should do this,” and she was like, “You’ve got to come to this training with me if you’re gonna do this.” And so, we went to this training. It was really amazing, and in part of the training, we were asked to assess our organization in terms of its alignment with white supremacy values. She’s a person of color. She’s Asian, and at the end of the day, my company had more anti-racist values built into it than hers, and that was a really interesting wakeup call for her, recognizing her alignment with white supremacy in order to be seen as okay. And she wrote an article. I should give the link so listeners can read it.

Rebecca Ching: Please.


Sarah Buino: It was “My Elegy To White Supremacy,” “My Assimilation to White Supremacy,” something like that. But that was kind of a moment where I was like, “Oh, there’s something within me that is already aligned with liberation. And so, what if I actually tried to be more intentional with that?” And so, then I started by seeking my own training first because I think a big mistake that any leader can make when they’re like, “I’m gonna be anti-racist now,” is that they’re like, “Here are the policies! Here’s how we’re anti-racist!” without having an embodied practice for themselves.

So I sought training and grounding in that first, and then I brought my team with me. I paid for my team to do several trainings on liberation and anti-racism, one being Decolonizing Therapy for Black Folks by Shawna Murray-Browne. Shoutout to her. She’s amazing. Dr. Jennifer Mullan’s Politicizing Your Practice. And they still carry this on today. Once a month we would have what we call Liberation Meeting, and we would discuss something that was in the zeitgeist, and we ended up having individuals bring in a topic that was politicized that was important to them.  Somebody brought in non-monogamous relationships and how we interact with that as therapists. People brought in the idea of power and how do we interact with that as therapists. So that was a legacy that still lives in Head Heart that I’m really proud of.

Rebecca Ching: Wow. That’s incredible. Thank you for sharing that. 

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: You know, but you sold this practice.

Sarah Buino: I did.

Rebecca Ching: I want to make sure we spend a minute there because I love talking with leaders who built something and then decided they needed to pass it on for whatever reason. So what were the tradeoffs that you were weighing when you were deciding to sell your practice Head Heart Therapy and move to building your own coaching and consulting business, which is Head Heart Business?


Sarah Buino: None. I was done.

Rebecca Ching: Okay.

Sarah Buino: I was done.

Rebecca Ching: How did you know that?

Sarah Buino: I no longer found — I didn’t have the capacity to be the type of leader that I wanted to be, and I made a decision. It was like 2018 where you and I talked about a person that we knew in common who really screwed me over, and that was the first time I looked at myself as a business owner. And I was like, “All right, I’m gonna try this business owner thing and actually put myself in these shoes and try to do it ‘right.’” I didn’t like it. I didn’t like being a boss as much as I imagined I would, and I made a decision at the end of 2019, and I said, “I’m either going to hire an executive director to help me do this, or I dissolve the practice.”

And I ended up finding the right person who ended up being the person who wanted to buy the practice at the end of the day. So, you know, a lot of it was really just sort of recognizing what it is that I had capacity for, and I had no problem letting go. A lot of people were like, “Ah, I can’t even imagine selling my practice.” I’m like, “I’m done!” I was done at the end of 2019, and thank God for Rayell who bought the practice because I would not have made it through 2020 without her.

Rebecca Ching: So I almost want to kind of get this timeline clear. You built this thing. You had a vision. You felt proud of it. Then you had this business betrayal experience, and that brought to light some growth edges.

Sarah Buino: Yeah. Yep.

Rebecca Ching: And so, you were like, “Okay, I want to really embody this in a way that feels true to me,” and when you did that you were like, “I don’t want this.” And you brought in somebody to support and lead with more of the managing, the day-to-day stuff, because I think leading and managing are very different, connected, but someone to manage the day-to-day operations you were still visioning, and then you started to forward face into what is Head Heart Business now.


Sarah Buino: Also, just to be fully transparent, because I know a lot of people who bring in an executive director who takes over the day to day and then they still remain the owner of the business, what didn’t feel okay to me about that option was Rayell is a Black woman, and I honestly wanted her to make the profit if she was the one doing the work. And so, that was a really big part of it for me is, I mean, man, it would have set me up forever if that would have been the case. I just get to sit on my throne and eat Bon Bons while this Black woman labors for me? That didn’t feel in alignment with my values.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for clarifying that. Well, I’m excited to see what you continue to do with Head Heart Business as you support other private practices, treatment centers, and other small businesses with their staffing, HR, and leadership needs. I’m really excited about that. And before we move onto our famous quickfire questions, I’d love for you to just reflect on how your understanding of success has changed since you were younger and what does success mean to you today.

Sarah Buino: Well, when I was little, I thought I was gonna be a pop star. So it looks a lot different than I thought it was.

Rebecca Ching: Just a little? Just a little? [Laughs]

Sarah Buino: Just a little bit, but truthfully and honestly, I think this is probably one of the Achilles heels of Enneagram threes is that we do have certain models of success that it’s really hard to divorce ourselves from, so it really is a mindful process of — because I literally talked about this with my therapist today that I’m not making any money right now because I’m in this sort of transition period, and making money is one of the measures of success that I’ve always held. And so, how do I recognize my own success when I don’t have a dollar figure to point to?


Rebecca Ching: So what does success mean to you today then in this in-between season?

Sarah Buino: I mean, when I think about what makes me happy at the end of the day, it’s learning and relationships, and boy do I have an abundance of both of those.

Rebecca Ching: You do. You do a really good job cultivating that.

Sarah Buino: Thank you!

Rebecca Ching: All right, Sarah, before we go, I want to just go through some quickfire questions. First, what are you reading right now?

Sarah Buino: I had to pull it off my bookshelf because I am the slowest reader under God’s green earth, so I’m very in the beginning of this, but Living in the Tension by Shelly Tochluk. “The quest for spiritualized racial justice.” Everything that we talked about in terms of the way people are showing up in social justice wrong right now, Shelly has the answers for. So check her out!

Rebecca Ching: Awesome. What song are you playing on repeat?

Sarah Buino: “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh, did you see her performance at The Grammys?

Sarah Buino: I didn’t yet, but I’m obsessed with that album!

Rebecca Ching: It’s pretty good. What is the best TV show or movie that you’ve seen recently?

Sarah Buino: The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. [Laughs] It’s all about aliens. It’s scientists. So Skinwalker Ranch is this paranormal, whatever, UFO hub in Utah, and they, on The History Channel, hired scientists to try to figure out what the fuck is going on, and these scientists now believe in aliens.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh. Okay, now I have to go check this out!

Sarah Buino: Yeah, you do! It’s on Hulu. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: More hours. More hours, too.

Sarah Buino: Right!

Rebecca Ching: What’s your favorite eighties piece of pop culture?

Sarah Buino: Probably Saved By The Bell.

Rebecca Ching: Stop it!

Sarah Buino: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh. What is your mantra right now?

Sarah Buino: Ah, I don’t think I have one right now but what I keep trying to remind myself is that I’m okay. I have enough privilege that I’m okay even when it’s not okay.


Rebecca Ching: Oof, I feel that. What is an unpopular opinion that you hold?

Sarah Buino: Hmm, there shouldn’t be toppings on pizza.

Rebecca Ching: Oh.

Sarah Buino: Cheese pizza’s perfect as it is. Why are you people ruining it with your yucky toppings?

Rebecca Ching: Those are some fighting words.

Sarah Buino: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Those are some fighting words.

Sarah Buino: Come at me! [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: We’ll see if we can keep this in the episode. [Laughs]

Sarah Buino: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Who or what inspires you to be a better leader and human?

Sarah Buino: My husband. He is the kindest, most gentle person in the world, and I don’t know, it seems effortless that he is so kind and calm and gentle, and I would love to have just an ounce of what he has.

Rebecca Ching: Wow, sounds like an incredible partner to do life with. Sarah, thank you so much for this conversation. Thank you just for being you. If people wanted to connect with the work that you’re doing and your new business, where can they find you?

Sarah Buino: The website is www.headheartbiztherapy.com. And you can find me on Facebook and Instagram @headheartbiztherapy.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you, Sarah! I really appreciate you. Thank you so much for coming on the show!

Sarah Buino: Yeah, thank you so much for having me!

Rebecca Ching: Before you go, I want to ensure you take away some important wisdom Sarah shared with us in this Unburdened Leader conversation, kind of more Unburdened Leader friends catch-up conversation. I’m really curious what came up for you listening to our conversation. Who did you think of when you were thinking of the things you were excited about? Who’s your person? And if you haven’t talked with them for a while, when are you gonna reach out to them next? I’m also curious if you’ve been honest with yourself about your need to connect and give a witness and challenge more and really own the things that you are passionate about?


And how are you nurturing relationships in your life, whether they’re your really good friends that you talk to and text everyday to those folks that you connect once or twice a year but have really meaningful discussions, and how do you feel when you do connect with those folks?

Everyone’s talking about the loneliness epidemic. Everyone is struggling with overcommitment and rethinking just about everything we’re doing, but one of the best things we can do is take the time to connect, to share, to give a witness and be a witness and really just have space where we can talk, laugh, get curious, and not have to overly edit and manage what we’re saying. I think this is also the ongoing work of an Unburdened Leader.

[Inspirational Music]

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, free Unburdened Leader resources, and ways to work with me and sign up for the Unburdened Weekly email at www.rebeccaching.com. Now, if this episode impacted you and was meaningful to you, I’d be honored if you left a rating and a review wherever you listen to podcasts, and this podcast was produced by the wonderful team at Yellow House Media. Thanks again for listening!

[Inspirational Music]

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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

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EP 27: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 1

We watch leaders crash & burn all the time. We watch with morbid fascination as leaders fall out of grace because their unaddressed pain led them on an unsustainable path of poor choices–even dangerous and deadly choices–to avoid feeling the vulnerability of rejection. Those times when you experienced the pain of rejection leave their mark […]


EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don’t understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can’t even grasp how our words & […]

Mental Well-being

EP 19: Defining Your Own Version Success with Natalie Borton, Founder of Natalie Borton Designs

The quickest way to crash and burn your business and life is to place your worthiness and safety with the opinions of others. This may sound like a captain-obvious statement but the pull to care what others think is something fierce. And it is sneaky. The competitive drive is no stranger to many of you. […]

Work-life Integration

EP 17: Community Over Competition with Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society Natalie Franke

Community over competition is indeed a well-worn hashtag. The cynical can dismiss it. Those beat up by year after year of injustice understandably call BS. But in practice, leading with the lens of community over competition is subversive and culture-shifting. Community over competition requires deep life-long work to unburden the load we carry of scarcity […]

Leading Teams

EP 02: How Self-Leadership Saves You From The Relentless Drive To Succeed with Dr. Richard Schwartz

My body was telling me to take a step back and reevaluate. Five years ago I had pneumonia and I couldn’t really do anything other than prop myself up on the couch and breathe… …breathe and think about how I ended up in this mess I’d run myself into the ground. My schedule was full-to-overflowing. […]


And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.