Powerful BE-Longing

WTF Crisis 101

September 02, 2022 Lisa Hatlestad Season 3 Episode 24
Powerful BE-Longing
WTF Crisis 101
Show Notes Transcript

On this week's episode, we return to the stew pot for a chat about identity. crisis, whether you know it as a mid-life crisis (mid life is NOT the only time these crises can happen), "the river of misery," being "person soup," or simply "what the FUCK is happening to me?"

Picking up on the kettle of boiling soup metaphor from last week, I unpack some of the "why" behind the pain (and therefore sense os crisis) of such times in our lives, and how we can help this process....and note, I'm not talking about prematurely shortening it or bypassing it....by harnessing our ability to let go.

I invite you in to this process, and next week, we'll take a much deeper look into letting go - releasing - trusting....if that makes your spine shiver (with dread or doubt), I get it. But hang in here with me...and with your beautiful self.

And hey - if you have questions; if this episode sparked something within you, your questions and insights and shares are welcomed and deeply honored. Here's where to reach out:

Instagram at Lisa_Hatlestad

Facebook at Lisa Hatlestad

Email at pvs@lisahatlestad.com

WTF Crisis 101

So this week has been pretty crazy; I had a colonoscopy this week - harbinger of middle age - and that all went really well and I’m grateful it went well and grateful it’s in my rearview mirror. 

I’ve also been in a bit of a scramble - I knew August and September were going to be more busy and needing more focus and forbearance, but yeah - pre-knowledge and actual experience are two different things. 

One thing that’s really played into the whole experience for me is that  we’ve been babysitting my brothers Corgi while he and his family visit my sister in law’s family in the philippines  for a month and….she’s a diva. She’s used to being the star of the show, she’s used to rough housing with two boys and her - and only her - feelings and wants matter. So for almost a month, she’s been living with us, with Paul and I, and we have two senior small dogs, Isabella - an 18 year old shih tzu and Rico - a 12 year old Pekingnese with some extraordinary sensitivity, and then two cats, John Meowkovich and Hermione. And Poor Dakota the diva corgi has had a steep learning curve. She’s had to discover boundaries - like stop getting in Rico’s face trying to dominate him, and stop trying to herd poor blind Isabella back to her dog bed and do NOT chase the cats.

So boundaries are not Dakota’s nature, and as she’s gotten more comfortable with us over the weeks, she is increasingly pushing those boundaries, wanting to assert herself so she can get back to being the onliest diva and star of the show. But conditions are not permissive for that, and these weeks she’s lived with us have been challenging for everyone. You know? It’s made all the dogs and the cats aware of their energies and how they need to wield those energies in order to live safely and in some sense of harmony. It’s also been a little stressy on mom and dad - Paul and I - because our pets know the house rules and those rules suit our pets. But when you get a visitor who doesn’t know them, and is trying to find her place by being herself and seeing what works and what doesn’t - there’s a little chaos.

And the reason I’m telling you about this is because this is such a good metaphor for what I’m talking about today which is basically identity crisis.

So last week I talked about being boiled alive - the bean in the pot thinking it knows when it’s cooked and the master cook saying NOOOOOO you don’t.

That cooking - that stewing, that boiling and roiling and being knocked back down again - these things are hallmarks of a period of identity sloughing off, the liminality of learning to be without it, and then the reformation. And we humans think that everything should be super linear don’t we? I was thinking the other day if I hear one more person talking about the seven stages or whatever of grief, I’ll beat them about the head and shoulders. Because for one, they aren’t progressive stages we enter, experience and then leave behind. And two, they’re being improperly used contextually. Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote a book a long time ago called on death and dying, where she talked about these stages being the basically archetypal experience of humans dealing with imminent death - with mortality. 

But especially in the west, we like our formulas so we can use them as armor against hard experiences - I don’t say this with harsh judgement…no one consciously chooses to suffer, and yet we all do, and whether we suffer in our circumstances or our suffering is from existential roots, it feels terrible and we want to know that we will get through it alive. 

So I’m digressing here but what I very much want you to hear is, we don’t make linear progressions. Our progressions through life are looping and spiraling and up and down and backward and forward….and they take as long as they take. We can get help with something and that can clear the way to move more naturally through a progression….because what we carry in us - guilt, remorse, old wounds and hurts and resentments and pain bodies - most certainly can present barriers for us that can keep us stuck. But even that - is part of the progression. Coming up against something old and unprocessed, and struggling in it and reaching out for help or helping ourselves when possible do the work to reconcile and integrate that old stuff - that’s part of the progression too.

And no one wants to hear that shit. Because we’re human and we don’t enjoy liminal spaces - uncertainty, the tentative reaching out, feeling through, inching along because we don’t have our feet under us completely yet. And yet…that is often how we move through identity crisis. And we find ourselves getting knocked back into the pot until we don’t.

So I was trained  as a coach first in cognitive-behavioral style coaching - in thought work. Which is an excellent tool - even though I have multiple certifications  and trainings since then, it wasn’t toward leaving thought work behind. I use it all of the time and I have taught it to others for years. Our thoughts - our internalized beliefs AND our knee jerk reactions that come from those internalized beliefs - play a huge role in our experience, obviously. 

But in order to invest in the efficacy of thought work and thought work only, we have to suspend investment into other ways of human experiencing  - energetics, spirit & soul, inner compass and voice, inner family systems, depth psychology and shadow work, not to mention archetypal astrology, myth, mysticism.  And I think we’re seeing that straight cognitive-behavioral style approaches have historically bypassed physiological and psycho-somatics - the nervous system response, which is not dependent on cognitive processes alone, and how trauma - how our BODY and psyche experience trauma - impacts us, shapes our holistic experience as humans. It also has traditionally bypassed the significance of individual and collective experiencing, in favor of the chosen cognitive experience. And I think we’re moving in a good direction, but I think a lot of cognitive-behavioral style adherents have had difficulty reconciling all of this in a way that still “proves” their preference to cognitive approaches. And…we’ll get there, maybe. In the meantime, there’s a whole lot of patching together and co-opting and guess work and super-explaining - meaning apologetics - going on. 

So to sum all this up - the cognitive approach alone works super- well for some people. Not everyone thinks alike, feels alike, experiences alike, has the same preferences, the same references, the same backgrounds, the same genetic makeup and history, and so on and so on. And to assert that everyone’s experiencing is subject to the exact same principals is, I believe short sighted and even toxic. That’s my view, and that’s my experience.  The more academic approach adherents have often dismissed anything outside of the conscious cognitive as “woo” - extraneous and complicating to the experience of our lives. And maybe you do, too…although I have the feeling that if you follow my stuff, that’s not true.  You know I don’t shy away from complications.

So I don’t subscribe to that at all, and I also won’t dismiss other people’s preferences. We are human, and we need to do what works. That’s what’s important to me. I don’t try to coerce others into territory that’s foreign to them…I offer invitations. The people who are inclined, come. Those who don’t…see other practitioners. That’s as it should be.


We all go through identity shit. Whether we call it the “river of misery” or an identity crisis or a midlife crisis or an extensial crisis…it’s all the same damn thing. If you’ve ever been in a river….no matter how placid it might look on the surface there is a current. 

Sometimes we have to exert strength against a current, to get back to shore or get to the other side (and that’s IF the river’s width and current is compatible with our strength and endurance. Sometimes we have to swim and float with the current. We have to surrender, and let the river take us until we land in a post where we can get our feet under us again. Very often, it’s both. We swim like crazy, and the current is also taking us and we have to let it, to rest and gather our strength again, in order to swim some more. And there are rivers like grief - and there are many sources of grief, where the whole thing is about surrender and trusting that we’ll be borne by the current to some sort of safety at some point. 

So even this sounds formulaic and linear. I find it hard sometimes to transcend our western enculturation to make perfect sense of everything. Because we belief if we can only understand it, we can master it. We’re safe from that feeling of being swept away by something bigger than us.

But listen, I don’t think that’s ever, ever the way things work. And if we don’t want to become bad actors in life - behaving and appearing as though we’ve got it all mastered and figured out all of the time despite the FACT that we don’t…then we have to get good with being in the pot now and then and at the very least, not telling ourselves we shouldn’t be and that if we are, it’s because we’re broken or lazy or not doing our work. Come ON.

My purpose here today is to remind you and myself that as humans we WILL have human experiences, and human experience is made up of both the understood and the wild unknown. Some of us live in suburbs or gated communities with big fences around us and think that will keep us safe from the intrusions of the wild, but…yeah, we know in our heart of hearts that isn’t true. THAT’S a thought error. 

So if YOU’RE experiencing the wild unknown  - and I’m stealing that phrase from my favorite series of tarot and archetypal oracle cards by Kim Krans because it’s fucking perfect - right now…

You’re like my brother’s corgi, Dakota. You have an identity. It’s what you know. It’s all you’ve known yourself as, whether you like that identity or not. Of course you’re going to want to hang on to it when you get on the back foot - when things go sideways or when you start waking up in the morning and going like, “what the fuck?” So give yourself a break, right? Losing sight of ones identity is an existentially and cognitively scary deal. If any of you have a loved one with Alzheimers - you get this. But identity shedding can and do happen throughout our lives and especially if we strongly identify with Who We Are and Have Always Been - it can feel awful. Terrifying. Like everything is going wrong and everything in the world is conspiring against you. And you’ll swim like hell for the shore. You’ll assert yourself. And you’ll get knocked back in the pot several times. I am REALLY mixing metaphors here but….

What I want to say to you today is, surrender is part of the process. Trust that you will be okay is part of the process. You CAN do that. Try letting go with one little finger. Or toe. Breathe in to that. 

You may be thinking you’ll drown, but we drown when we fight the water. Letting go, even if it’s one finger, one toe at a time is a signal to the water that you will work with it, and let it do it’s work. And its work is to bring you to where you need to be, my sweet friends. You might not know where that is, but the river does.

If you look, you’ll find me in there with you, too. I’m the one holding a signal light for you. 
 We’ll talk more next week. Until then, I love you and I know you are safe. I hope you trust.

Bye loves.