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  • Writer's pictureNina Elliot

Crisis, AKA: A Crash-Course in Self Awareness

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

There is nothing like a crisis to reveal the true nature of our character.

Whether during the course of a difficult day, the heaviness of a season that takes us to our limits, or an unexpected traumatic event, crisis wears our defenses thin.

The beautiful thing is what is brought to the surface can be instructive...if we allow it to be.

Unfortunately, when we are in the emotional upheaval of a crisis, it’s usually highly inconvenient to stop and reflect, question our assumptions, and form new beliefs that align with what's true.

Instead, what feels (and is) important is to get through the crisis–survival is what we are wired to do, even if our methods are less than ideal.

In this post, I want to explore the idea of personal crisis (and more specifically, the emotions brought up by a crisis) as the beginning of a crash course in self-awareness.

If someone asked me what were some of the most formative moments of my life, I would probably be able to narrow it down to three.

One is an event which formed my core stories, one is a transformational moment in my 20's, and the last is when my core stories were radically challenged almost two decades later.


The first formative story would be my mother's car wreck when I was 11, which left her tragically brain damaged and a shell of who she was--I was the oldest of four siblings, forced to grow up a tad sooner than expected and navigate my teens in reversal of roles with a mother who would never be motherly.

Unaware of it at the time, some of the beliefs I formed to survive this time were three (ugly) core stories:

  • To feel is a weakness.

  • To have needs is inconvenient, don’t be needy.

  • To be seen, you have to be exceptional

The second formative moment in my personal story happened during a prayer-based therapy session when I was 21 and saw Jesus' powerful presence in several of the most shame-inducing and fear-filled moments of my youth.


The power of this healing session instilled in me the belief that I am never alone, and that I always walk alongside Christ's abiding and consistent love.

The truth of THIS identity (as His beloved) would carry me through to the year 2017 when the third most formative moment happened.

The third formative event was when the trajectory of our careers dramatically shifted, and we closed the doors of the business we had poured our heart into for over a decade.

Until this time I had never been forced to revisit the core stories that had shaped me since my youth.

What I didn't realize until I walked through this crisis is that the frenetic pace of our previous lives had kept me from fully healing. In the quiet spaces of our new beginning I faced some of those old, core stories.

This time, as brutally painful as it was, I had learned enough to turn my core stories into questions rather than fixed statements about my worth.

They came out like this…

  • What is my personal blindspot that keeps me from relying on Christ as my shepherd? How would I live differently if I really trusted His promises?

  • What ARE my feelings if they are not a sign of weakness and how can they become something I can learn to trust?

  • Do my needs matter? If so, how can I learn how to come forward with them and draw better boundaries when it comes to my commitments?

  • Am I what I produce or accomplish? Or said another way, am I still valuable if I fail to accomplish "enough," whatever "enough" is?


It was apparent that in order to re-envision a new future for myself I needed to examine key behaviors and belief systems which no longer served me. If I wanted things to change, I needed to change, and this was a job that willpower and motivation couldn't touch....I needed to go deeper.


The eleven-year old version of me, “protected” by the best armor she could find, slowly had to come to terms with the reality that the 37-year old version of me was weary of carrying all that armor around.

Two years into that third personal-healing journey, I had a session with a therapist. When I told her of our business failure, she gently corrected me, and reframed the experience a “rescue.”

Tears rolled down my face as I embraced the possibility that this could actually be true…


Life is never guaranteed to be an easy ride.

Learning to face our personal shortcomings, plus all the time my husband and I have spent in the coaching business, has given us a real compassion for the complexities that drive human behavior.

To get to the root of why we act, think, and do the things we do, we must first examine the very narratives which inform our hearts.


If crisis is what can begin a crash-course in self awareness, the work that we are all invited into is the examination of the stories we are telling ourselves, followed by the rejection of the ideas and beliefs which don't hold to the truth of who we were created to be...

It takes special awareness, when we hit our crisis of limitations, to think about life on a different level. Yet, it is in the depths of our personal struggles where we find the opportunities to renewal of our identities and personal philosophies.

I discovered, in these last several years, that if I neglected to do the work of healing after a personal crisis, I will find myself continuing to come back to old wounds, harmful habits, and the old destructive mindsets that put me right back through the very situations I want so desperately to avoid.

When the work of healing feels urgent, creating the space to do the work is sacred.


For so many of us, the work of healing has to happen in the “between times,” that is, after the dust has settled and one might prefer to numb or avoid, but instead chooses to venture into the spaces that still feel raw, asking the hard questions, and not settling for half-truths.

What I found is that healing has to happen in the context of relationships, that is, having a close friend who knows your story and your struggles and can lift you up when they see you spiral.

Most of all, the work of healing is fortified by living out of our newly formed identity.

Because it is aligned with truth, it produces the sensation of lightness, like a burden lifted, a breath that fills your belly, like a deep night's sleep.

So, my dear reader, I don't know what may be going on in your life, but I do know struggle and grief. I know what it is like when it feels like there is no space to process what is going on inside.

I've learned a thing or two about the importance of finding friends, finding pockets of respite, and digging deep rather than avoiding, and taking the time to heal.

If you are feeling like you could use a respite, a listening ear, and a fresh beginning, I wanted to let you know about a special outcome of some of the inner work I've had to do over the last several years.

This spring (beginning April 3rd, 2023) my husband and I are launching what we are calling Intensives, the first being an Emotional Healing Intensive--a sacred space to process and heal.

If you are feeling the hunch that your core stories can use a little reexamination, we are about to begin our six-week Emotional-Healing Intensive, and we would love to have you join us!


Each week we will go deeper into a new layer of the healing journey through daily writing prompts and a weekly group-coaching calls.

We will finish our six-week program with a four-day beach retreat where you will have the space to reflect and soak up the ocean, be pampered with massage and chef-prepared meals, gather with your people and forge a new version of yourself more aligned with truth…

...forming new core stories which provide healing and opportunity for growth.

Regardless of whether or not you can join us for the retreat, I hope that in sharing parts of my personal story, you will find the courage to explore some of the deeply held beliefs which have kept you feeling stuck.

Our stories are still being written, and in every twist and turn there is a holy invitation to...

"Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith developed perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

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