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Rising Beyond Expectation With Kristina Crooks


Let's dive into the incredible world of Kristina Crooks, a humanistic ontologist deeply devoted to love, transformation, and building internal foundations that keep us aligned with our values. Her passion is palpable—just describing her role feels like a breath of fresh air!

At Empowered Human, Kristina fosters bold conversations that ignite bigger possibilities, witnessing the beauty of inspired action leading to a life designed by choice.

Kristina's story is a testament to the evolution of life, especially navigating the stifling grip of "shoulds." She understands the stress and challenges tied to these societal pressures, yet finds the strength within to rise beyond these expectations, inspiring us all to overcome them, one day at a time. To connect with Kristina, visit her website 


Watch Kristina's Story



Jennifer: Welcome to the I Don’t Give a Should Show – a podcast exploring ALL the ways that women SHOULD all over themselves. How many times do you find yourself acting out of obligation or doing what everyone ELSE expects from you without stopping to consider why? Where do all those beliefs that are driving you come from? If you’re tired of feeling resentful, overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted or pissed off you’re in the right place.

Shoulding all over yourself is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat.

I’m your host Jen Sherwood, and I spent waaaaay too many years trying to prove that I was good enough and worrying what other people thought while avoiding conflict at all costs. Today, I don’t give a should – well not as many anyway and neither should you. I’m talking to women like you who figured out how to stop shoulding and start LIVING.

I am so excited today to welcome Kristina Crooks - I'm going to try to say her title without totally flubbing it so hang in there with me guys. Kristina Crooks is a humanistic ontologist - there I did it. She is deeply devoted to love transformation and helping others build an internal foundation that keeps them grounded in their values and commitments sort of feel like my stress level decreasing as I'm describing you, Kristina. 

She loves watching people take inspired action, which leads to a designed life. Her company is Empowered Human where bolder conversations lead to bigger possibilities. 

I'm excited for this welcome, my friend.


Thank you, Jennifer, I'm so glad to be here with you. 


I was just thinking about how you were describing your business as bolder conversations lead to bigger possibilities. I just want to share with our audience that when Kristina and I were chatting to get ready for this a while ago, that's what it feels like to have a conversation with her. It's just like this, you kind of get enveloped in this interesting conversation. 

Kristina has, as you'll probably see, just like this really warm, grounded energy, it's really fun to be a part of it so I love that this is how you describe your business.


Thank you, thank you. 

It's, you know, the one thing I've been trying to tell more people about is that Empowered Human. We're all one not to be confused with the same, we are not all the same. When we can see each other as part of this interconnected, intricate web, that we all we've we're all parts of a bigger hole, we just look at people differently.


So beautiful.

So there was a time before you lived there and I'd like to start back then, as you know, you know, we talked about shitting a lot on this show. I would love for you to share as our jumping-off point for today. 

What was it like for you when you were living under the shoulds?


Well, you know, I love that you asked this question. I know you asked this question just about every time because that's kind of your thing. I particularly love it now because it gives me an opportunity to say this. 

So often, we think that when we've grown beyond a certain way of being that that's it, we're done, we move on, it's gone. Yeah, we're just healed, and we're all better. Here's the truth - I'm laughing with you. We are human beings, we are human beings that can dip our toes into that in the right circumstance.

Before we came on here, I was telling you how in the evenings, I work in a restaurant, and it's a very different culture than working in Empowered Human working with clients then hosting and facilitating groups. I show up a different being - not fully but it's being in a space that is not Empowered Human being in a space that is chaotic, and busy and full of unhealed stuff, and full of trauma and full of trauma bonding, because you're kind of in the trenches with these other people where the stress levels consistently high. You still have a job to do, and that list is never really done. It just kind of keeps getting added up as the night goes through. 

What I realized, was more reminded of that we can, if we're put back in those scenarios, as much like generational trauma, the way they found generational trauma is if you find yourself in generational trauma can last up to seven generations, if you find yourself in a similar circumstance that one of your ancestors had had trauma around, and it was of the utmost importance. Based on your survival, whether or not you're going to stay in that or you staying in that risk to your survival in some kind of fashion. 

It's going to get triggered and you may not know why and it's the same kind of thing with old versions of our way of being so. When we ask what was it like before what was like after I have an ever evolving creature that, for the most part has grown in a lot of different ways. 

That doesn't mean I can't slide back.


I absolutely agree with you. 

I think we grow and we evolve and yet things can take us back into ways we used to be but I wonder if this is true for you, too. I'll just give you an example for myself - I used to be this perfectionist inner critic. While I'm no longer under the iron fist of that dictator, it surfaces at times, and I can very much slide back into that old way of being.

What happens for me and I'll be curious about your experience, like just what you went through, what happens for me is I noticed it sooner than I used to. I'm able to move through it easier than I used to as well. Where I might have spent days, I don't know how long really kind of under the critic and feeling really horrible about myself, when I recognize that that's what's going on. It doesn't take that length of time, and I'm not under it. I go, oh, yeah, there she is, again, you know, and I'm able to move through. 

That's what I really appreciate about this growth and so I'm wondering what your experience is like.


Yeah, it's an interesting question.

I'm finding listening to my own responses is also fascinating. It's, you know, what, how I would have responded a month ago would have been different than how I'm responding today. The last month, we're in January now, in 2023, I don't know when this will hit our listeners' ears.

In December of 2022, it was a really challenging space for me. And I haven't been in that that kind of space in a long time. it was one of those points where I thought, I thought I'm beyond this. when we're kind of triggered by something, or a circumstance, or a culture or a space we're in, and we need to keep showing up in that space, regardless of how we feel because of responsibility because of obligation because we need to for life. 

That's when we're really tested And so I was, I've been the last week or so I've been building out this program I've had material for for weeks. I don't know when it will be ready for the public, but hopefully soon. It's called Seven Keys to Inner Liberation and I was going through these steps going, okay, this is what I need right now and this is my own work. 

It wasn't shifting it for me.

When you ask the question, that's why it's a layered answer, because I was going back through my own tools, and nothing was shifting it and I went, what is going on. There was a night, a couple of weeks ago, I think it was about two weeks ago now that I was sitting on my floor in the kitchen, because my cats were there and they wanted me to pay attention. I was like, I'm just gonna sit on the floor, and something told me that I just needed to listen to music. 

I went into my library, and I put it on shuffle, still nothing, and something else told me, you really need a cry -I was like, but I don't feel like crying. It was like, you just haven't found the entry point yet and so I scrolled through, sometimes I'll find new music through reels. Some people do Spotify and stuff like that, but reels work for me to find new artists. I found this gospel music. I don't typically go through a phase that I did listen to gospel pretty regularly and then I have it for a few years. I found this and the tears came, I started to sob, the kind of sob where you wake up the next day and you're like, oh, my eyes are puffy.

It pains me in this course that I'm writing all the curriculum for the Seven Keys to Inner Liberation, I want there to be seven but there are eight. The eighth one is faith, and when we've done everything that we can and we've exhausted all the doing, then we let it go. That might be in a religious sense, it might be God for you, it might be love, it might be your own value system.

We have to trust that we're making the best choices we can in the face of what is over and over and over and over. We wanted to run into issues when what we think is the best choice based on our expectations that we've created and the obligations that we have that we're just going to feel better because it's the quote unquote best choice and that's a lot of pressure.

 Sometimes we just have to follow what feels right and not necessarily what looks best on paper.


I love that you're saying this because I think for women in particular, we're shouldering a lot. We have a lot of societal pressure on us, and social media makes everything look like everybody else's lives are easy and uncomplicated. We're the only one that has struggles and so I think it's interesting that you're talking about on paper, there are these processes or solutions, and it just might not be the right one for you. 

Being open to that, and as soon as you said, faith, my brain filled in and trust, I feel the same way. Like, at some point, we have to let go and just believe that what we're doing is enough, and allow whatever is drawing us forward to do that. You listened to yourself, which is so important. We've been so many times I don't know if this is true for you kind of before you started doing this work, and I'd love to get back there and hear some of that. 

We don't really listen to ourselves. We don't really trust that we have the knowledge and you did you listen, okay, music, alright, this isn't the right thing, oh, crap, really, what I need to do is cry, and then it just happened.


It took me weeks, and it hasn't taken that long in a long time. That's why I said, if you asked me a month ago, a month ago, I would have said, yeah, move through it really fast. 

Like if I'm angry about something or sad about something I move through it really quickly.


I think this is actually really important for people to listen to because I think sometimes when you're listening to someone like you, Kristina, who, you know, you teach this stuff, and people really look up to you and think, oh, well, she doesn't ever struggle with these sorts of things anymore and that's just not true. 

We're all humans, as you said, we all have this struggle of life and nobody gets a free pass on that everybody has people getting sick, people losing jobs, people getting strep, whatever it is, we all have that. 

How do we deal with it and for you, it sounds like you just found the way through. It wasn't pleasant to get there, never is right, these life things are never pleasant when we're going through them, but you found your way.


Well, and I think really what it's about is no matter how much growth you've done, no matter. 

Excuse me, no matter how much you've looked internally in yourself. You're still on the ocean of life, and those waves still come. There are still sharks and stingrays and jellyfish and things that can hurt you in that water. Does that mean that you, you know, get helicoptered out of there? Does it mean that you hide in the boat and you never look at the water again? 

Sure, you could, and plenty of people do that. They really just wished so much they were on land that they cannot accept that they're on the ocean but when you can accept that that is the ocean, it doesn't mean you have to agree that that's where you want to be. But when you can accept, that's where it is. Now, you can address what's really there. It's choppier today than it was yesterday and I need to adjust my sails and I need to adjust the rudder. 

If you keep trying to drink the salty water, you'll die, but if you accept, it's salty, and I do have to do something to it in order to make it digestible for my body.

Well, now you've harnessed something that's all around you, that you couldn't do if you just tried to drink it, when accepting fully what's there. So for me what tapping in the faith did in that moment, not only allowed me to release some energy I've been holding for weeks. But it allowed me to accept that I was doing things that I didn't necessarily want to do every day. But I needed you because when you're an entrepreneur, your income can be really great. And it can be nothing and everything in between. 

It is a financial and sometimes an emotional roller coaster, and you have to adjust those sales constantly. You have to learn to pivot really fast, so there was this part of me that was going, Why do I have to be in this restaurant? I don't want to be here. The busier I got,the more I was resisting being there, and when I finally had this break, I went yeah, it's insane - that's a restaurant especially during the holidays. 

It's easy and there are some days that are difficult and I have structured my life the last few years where I get time. For me. It's a process to metabolize things to be with what's happening around me. And in that environment. You don't you're going from one task to the it's all about the doing. You're almost like you're being, it doesn't really matter that you are manipulated in a way that you show up and give people the best experience that you can, regardless of how you feel inside, because you don't want to transfer that or at least that was my voice to myself. I don't want to transfer whatever space I'm in if it's not the utmost positive. After so many days or weeks doing that, it wears on you and then I was able to come to that realization.


I know, I'm listening to you, and I'm thinking, women listening to this, anyone listening to this, you know, to be a female to, to have this could relate this to their own work environment, it doesn't have to be a restaurant, it doesn't have to be your exact circumstance, I could see someone listening to this and thinking, I go into a job every day where it's high stress all day long. These are sort of the reactions I'm having, maybe it's because whatever their career is high stress, or maybe it's just a matter of the people they work with and the culture they work in, I don't know but I'm listening to you. I'm thinking, I think people can really take away from this what you're talking about, I heard you say the key is time to yourself to process and, and come back to being more in your being. 

Then I think it's from that place that listeners can decide, do I want to keep putting myself back into this stressful situation, and make a choice from that place where you've given yourself some time to process, you've given yourself some space and faith to listen to what you need, and then make a decision. I'm not certain everybody listening right now has those kinds of tools. I'm going to advocate for getting support - obviously, Kristina has tools and has a lot of training to do this on her own but if you're finding yourself in that situation, I think getting some support around how to actually be with that and how to actually let yourself process that.

Maybe the takeaway today is figuring out how to be okay, where you are, and then decide, is this the thing I want to stay in? Is this the environment I want to be in, where you were doing things you didn't want to do? My guess is a lot of people listening can empathize with that and understand that. That's the recent shoulding and I totally love that and I love how you shifted yourself through it and where you're at now, how would you say that process for you, I would imagine that shows up in the work that you do and who you work with. 

Talk to me a little bit about who Kristina is working with - who do you love to work with, and what is the kind of work that you're doing?


I'm gonna categorize it in two ways because there's this category I would love to work with more. And then there's this category that tends to gravitate to me. I really love working with people when they are going through transition in some way. My favorite is if they're when they're leaving corporate and going into starting their own business, something about that transition in particular is really appealing to me.

I think it's because they're choosing a lot of times they're choosing a life that will have less stress from what they've been coming from, like high tech and high high performance goals and things like that. And they're going into something on their own, which is a difference, a difference, what otherwise I'm looking for. It's a different skill set that's required. It's not a matter of taking this battering ram constantly. More of you create what the stress level is for you, you create what your day is like you create all those things. 

You do have to pivot in the moment much quicker than you would if you're working for a company and you have a stable salary, and you have health insurance, all those things, you can settle into that and get comfortable and then feel trapped, because now you depend on that income, right? So, the stress is usually around leaving that comfort zone. And that's fun for me to work with people that I tend to work with, a lot of women that are entrepreneurs that are creative entrepreneurs that maybe haven't worked in, in a big company before. 

They've always tried to do their own thing. They've struggled a lot with making any income on their own. They've either had some kind of support, or they did work in a career, but not something that was like, you know, a lot of money, but it was stable. And then they've gone into entrepreneurship. 

It's really close, but I kind of want to highlight those two sides.


I love it - it's funny. 

I think people listening when you say that's what's fun for you is the stress of leaving what they can depend on and moving into their own. I totally get it and other people will probably wonder, how is that fun? It's not fun - it's fun too, but I hear you it's fun to help somebody figure that out and to see it. Kristina said to me before I hit record today, you know, you're in your own way, right, which is what we're helping people to see and how to get out of their own way. 

I just love it, and I put words in your mouth that you previously said, and I assume. Kristina, I think people listening will really want to have more of you in their life. We were talking before and the best way to find you, you're on all the platforms, and the easiest way probably to get to you and find your way to where Kristina is on all the platforms is

It's Kristina with a K - we'll put all of this and all of her other links in our show notes so that people can come and find you and have more Kristina and have more. I love just the way you described the human being, and I feel like that's the energy you give off. If you need a little more of that just grounded calm, connected energy, go find my friend Kristina, I think you will not, you will not regret it. 

Thank you so much for being here - it was just a joy to talk with you today.


Thank you, Jennifer. Always a pleasure to be with you. 


Alright, my friends. Come back for another episode of I Don’t Give a Should - see you then.

3 simple steps laid out in 3 bite-sized videos to go from overwhelm to ease (even if you think it's not possible!)



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