I am 33 years old and still cry at videos that move me. A video on climate change did that today and I’m not one bit environmental at all.
Most of life is spent living in hope and then there are days when I realize how fragile it can be to be human.
Life can suck the air out of your lungs and make you feel like crap, and conversely, life can make you believe anything is possible and allow you to live with an incredible amount of passion which helps you derive a meaning from your own existence. Life is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it’s beautiful, and on the other hand, it’s a struggle that will lead to rock bottom many times throughout your life.
There are periods of life which become triggers for rock bottom.
Here are a few:
- The loss of a loved one
- The breakdown in a romantic relationship
- Being let go from your job
- Facing a financial meltdown
- Missing that career opportunity
- Facing a severe health challenge that threatens your life
It is easy to be positive when your life is going along nicely. When one of these events from the list happens to you (and it will), all that positivity can disappear in a moment — even for a wannabe inspirational blogger like myself.
We’re all positive until we have our face ripped off by life and our hands are bleeding down the sides of our trousers from the pain of what has happened.
You can’t appreciate the bright light and energy of life until you can see the darkness of rock bottom
You may think rock bottom is a horrible place to be. It may seem like doom and gloom. It might be a place you hope you don’t have to visit anytime soon.
Rock bottom sounds like one step away from death or self-implosion. Why the heck would anyone look forward to being at rock bottom? “Rock bottom is horrible,” you say.
Rock bottom has many benefits, though.
- Rock bottom wipes away your entitlement
- Rock bottom makes you see how fragile life is
- Rock bottom reshapes and rewires your thinking
- Rock bottom changes who you are
- Rock bottom makes you grateful for what you do have
It took multiple career failures, a battle with mental illness, having two romantic relationships turn to dust, and a near-miss with cancer to realize that. None of these important lessons would have been learned without the brilliance of rock bottom life moments.
Life is beautiful when you compare it to the darkness of rock bottom moments. The contrast between the good times and the bad times is what makes that idea become a realization.
Practice before the event
Last night something strange happened. My girlfriend was reading a book called “The China Study” to learn more about what the two of us should eat. It seemed like an innocent book to read.
Before I knew it, the two of us were talking about what foods we would have to eat to avoid cancer. She started asking me questions about my near-miss with the devil illness back in 2015.
This conversation led to a weird thought: we were changing our diet to practice eating for the big event of cancer. Both of us are completely healthy and not dealing with a rock bottom moment caused by health challenges and yet, we were accidentally preparing for the worst.
Subconsciously, we remind ourselves of rock bottom moments all the time and prepare for them.
That’s when it hit me: preparing for rock bottom is an excellent exercise.
When you’re prepared for the darkness, you can build a battle plan to move forward from it. What follows is my plan and it’s a reminder for when rock bottom comes around again.
Here are the two things I do when I reach rock bottom:
1. Sit with it
This might seem counter-intuitive. I can hear the self-help gurus shouting from the stage of their latest $995 seminar begging me to reconsider.
“You’ve gotta take action soldier!”
“Don’t sit there you idiot! Get up!”
When you reach rock bottom, sitting with it is useful. When you sit with the feeling, you listen to what it’s telling you. What you’re listening for when you are at rock bottom are the ideas that lead to you becoming responsible.
Why are you ultimately responsible? Because you control your mindset and the meaning behind every situation. None of us are bulletproof Arnie though. No matter how mentally tough we are, when rock bottom strikes, we’ll be shot down — temporarily at the very least.
Sitting with the feeling helps you to gain perspective. This rock bottom moment is happening for a reason and part of the dreadful feeling in the bottom of your stomach is somewhat created by you.
That’s a good outcome. If you control that feeling, you can turn things around. You can make a comeback, start again, or try again.
If all you do is move straight to action mode, then the beauty of rock bottom will pass you by and then you may miss the whole point and be right back at rock bottom again a short time later.
Sit with the feeling and repeat this question: How are you responsible?
2. Create momentum
The first step gives you clarity. Once you have the clarity from your rock bottom moment, you’re ready to move forward. For some people that can take a few days and for others, it can take months or even years.
Rock bottom is not a race you run; it’s a process you go through. You can’t rush the process otherwise this second step won’t work.
Once you have clarity and you’ve obtained the insight from your rock bottom moment all that is left is to create momentum.
Momentum comes from making decisions — and whether they are good ones or bad ones doesn’t really matter.
Your transformation is the direct result of the decisions you make. Decisions create momentum and so you want to make them without being married to the outcome and getting all romantic about it.
Momentum is about taking steps forward and that means getting really busy in the process of doing. These are a few steps:
Send direct messages
You’ll be surprised how helpful people can be when you take a few minutes to send them a message and ask them a question. Their response might just change your life or at the very least, be helpful.
Send short, sharp messages to people you know can help and give you new ideas and fresh information.
Start creating again
Write something, draw something, compose a speech, film a video — get off your butt and start creating again. Creating something is what unlocks your creativity and leads to the imagination that forms your art and can bring to the surface ideas to deal with your rock bottom moment.
When I started writing in 2014, it was for no reason other than to create something that was mine and just for me. This one idea became the catalyst for everything in my life that followed.
Through the art of writing, I learned more than I could ever imagine from being at rock bottom over and over again.
The most important conversation I had at one of my rock bottom moments was speaking to a psychologist about the mental health issues I was facing.
They told me everything would be okay and helped me realize for myself, the practical steps one could take to beat the illness once and for all. It wasn’t just conversations with psychologists that were helpful — conversations with family, friends, and my partner helped me get my shit together and be honest with how tough rock bottom was.
Share your story
Your rock bottom moment has value and by sharing it, it doesn’t just help others who are facing a similar situation, it helps you too. It gives that period of your life meaning and makes it a helpful event others can learn from.
Read books you wouldn’t normally read
There is something about reading that changes your thinking. When you read words on a page, you have to use your imagination to picture what they are trying to say.
By activating your imagination, the words start to take on a different meaning and are remembered by your goldfish mind.
Pick a book you wouldn’t normally read. The book I chose was “Think And Grow Rich” and was a strange title that made me a little embarrassed to admit at the time. It was completely different from my usual read and I had never read a self-help book before that.
By reading something strange, I found a different side of myself that was unrecognizable.
Work on yourself
Deciding to work on yourself is where the growth from a rock bottom moment comes from. It’s a decision that carries with it responsibility, adaptability, courage, and a belief in yourself.
Deciding to work on yourself is a turning point in this period of darkness called rock bottom. It’s where a lot of your future momentum will come from.
When I reach rock bottom, this is my very rough process. It is made up of two steps and has taken me a lifetime to experiment with.
None of us are perfect and we’re doing the best we can. Rock bottom moments are hardcoded into your DNA, so you may as well learn to deal with them and find a way to use them to your advantage.
Rock bottom will find you and when it does, be responsible and use it to move forward and create momentum. That’s how you take darkness and turn it into light that guides you through the rest of your life and makes you appreciate the whole experience.