Not everybody will experience something in life that completely alters your world in such an extreme way that you plummet all the way to rock bottom, whether it’s the death of a loved one, illness, a life-altering accident, bankruptcy, the death of a marriage, or toxic relationship that ends and leaves you at your most broken. For those that do experience rock bottom at some point for whatever reason, it’s usually one of the most trying periods of your life and something that will ultimately determine how the rest of your life takes form.
Earlier this year I was hit with one of these life curveballs that brought me to my rock bottom, in every sense of its lowly meaning. I lost a relationship with someone I really cared about. I lost my job, my home, all in one big blow. At the time, I didn’t think there was ever a way I could bounce back. I was at my lowest point in life — completely distraught, helpless, completely stripped of everything I’d ever known that helped me feel secure.
Now almost a year later, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and am so grateful for going through that experience. The compassion, humility, and empathy for human suffering and the human spirit that I gained through that experience is now one of my greatest assets and something I can draw upon moving forward with my life. No matter what you’re dealing with in your life, no matter how dire the circumstances, you can not only overcome it, but become smarter, wiser, and with a richer interior life, that will serve you ever better in life than having never gone through that difficult time.
For anyone that is going through a period of brokenness in their life: I write this for you — 9 life lessons I learned at rock bottom.
(1) Positivity And Silver-Linings Will Literally Save Your Life
Overcoming your awful situation is going to seem like an insurmountable mountain. You can’t look at the entire picture. Not just yet, anyway. Just like a mountain climber scaling the summit of Mount Everest, you literally need to lift each leg up with all your strength and force it in front of the other in order to keep yourself from collapsing.
When you hit rock bottom, it’s amazing how your survival instincts kick in and you don’t dwell on your situation because you know there’s nowhere left to fall. You either survive or you die. So find any silver lining you can. Spin the story in a way that gives meaning and purpose to your life. Hold that silver lining, that ray of light, tightly in the fetal position and don’t let anyone rip it from your hands. Guard it with your life. That’s your torchlight, the only thing you have to guide you through the darkness. It’s going to save your life.
(2) You Learn Who Will Be There For You When You Have Nothing
Whether it’s family or friends, you figure out who really has your back when you’re at your most broken. You discover and realize whom you can truly confide in. When awful circumstances happen, when we screw up and lose ourselves in darkness, we find out which people we’re comfortable exposing our demons to. It becomes clear who we’re comfortable talking to and who won’t turn away from us when we’re at our worst and most vulnerable.
For me it was a couple friends, and my family. For the few buddies that I confided in, I really figured out whom I truly had the closest and deepest relationships with. Who I knew I could count on to help me, and not judge me, for the mess I’d created. And my family, my family had my fucking back. I have never been so grateful to come from a great family than when I was going through that time. To have that small, tight-knit group of people, who knew my character, the type of man I am at my heart, and who I knew would be there to give me strength when I had none of it, is something that I’m grateful for everyday.
(3) Sometimes Shitty Things Happen But How You Respond To Them Determines Who You Become
Shitty things do happen. Tragedy happens. Things happen in life that can’t be explained. One day our life is nothing but green lights and fastballs, the very next a curveball comes out of nowhere and smashes us from our blind side. We can’t control this. Not everything can be explained.
The thing that determines who we become and what shapes the types of people we become, is how we react to the unexpected. When you hit rock bottom or go through a broken period, the tides of change are going to wash over you like a rogue wave, you can’t avoid it, that wave is going to hit you. All you can control is the direction the current of change takes you.
In my situation, I knew underneath all the rubble, there was a massive opportunity right in front of me, if I could just hold on long enough to find it.
While I was going through that period, I wrote this note and put it on my bathroom mirror, “You can’t control what happened. A change is about to happen in your life, you can’t control that, either. But you can control how you carry yourself in the aftermath of this situation. All you can control is what direction that change is going to happen. And this change is going to greatly shape the type of man that you become. So let’s use this situation as an opportunity, an opportunity to step into your greatest self. Time to go to work.”
That note on my mirror saved my life everyday.
(4) Even Good People Make Mistakes, But They Always Learn From Them
Not even the best humans are impervious of acting beneath themselves. Even the best people make mistakes. Like I’ve always said, “Men aren’t gentlemen because they’re perfect and never make mistakes, they actually make a lot of mistakes. But what makes them gentlemen is the class, grace, and humility they exude when they fall short of the men they’re trying to be.”
You can’t let one mistake define your life and who you are. But you can let one mistake be a driving force behind you learning some of your most important lessons. So when you’re at rock bottom, don’t fall asleep, stay awake, stay aware, and look out for the gold nuggets of wisdom that this life hardship is bestowing you. You need to keep reminding yourself that if you move through the aftermath of this situation in an exemplary way, you give yourself the best chance to find success because of this experience. From staying awake to the lessons, to the hard truths that you’re going to have to deal with — you stay open, allowing growth, change, and a richer interior life to come and serve you, better preparing you for what happens next in life.
(5) The Truth Will Set Your Soul Free
When you hit rock bottom, it becomes very, very clear what you want in life. Not what you think you want, but what you really want deep down in your heart. When a person experiences such a low point, they crave truth and authenticity. This is because you’ve been stripped apart from all your masking as a human. No more bullshit. Whatever you haven’t done to that point, whatever you feel you might regret not having done in life, comes into focus and you become aware of what you really yearn for.
You could say that difficult circumstances put our heart’s desire into focus. And we strive for it, more honestly, for the right reasons. It’s so easy to lose sight of who we really are and what we really want through the chaos of daily life, but the time of self-reflection and introspection allows us to look at ourselves and realign ourselves to our true purpose. Whether this difficult situation means you’re on the wrong path and need to set a new direction, or it’s just a giant obstacle you need to overcome on the path you’re currently on, that’s for you to figure out.
But I will say: when you hit rock bottom, when life throws you a curveball, there is no more lying to yourself, there is no more living for appearances and what you think other people expect from you, so follow that truth, it’s the only thing that can set your soul free.
(6) Learning To Love Yourself Is The Root Of All Healing
When you hit rock bottom, you really get to know yourself, on the deepest level imaginable. And now in your worst state, you’re exposed to your dark side and forced to embrace it. So many people in life don’t ever really come face-to-face with their demons. Whether it’s the alcoholic who’s in denial, the broken person who can’t function properly in romantic relationships because of unresolved baggage from their childhood who never goes to therapy, or the person with an anger-management issue who never resolves the source of their anger or develop strategies to help mitigate it. Not every one has to face that darkness they’ve been desperately trying to hide from themselves. But a catastrophic personal crisis situation usually brings that darkness to the surface, forcing us to finally deal with our shit.
While that’s a scary prospect, it gives us an opportunity to heal ourselves in a way we never have before. In order to feel better, you must feel worse first. But I’m telling you, coming face-to-face with your demons, accepting them and learning how you can overcome them and learn from them is how you get right with yourself.
I went to therapy during that time and talked about that very same process with my therapist: we talked about how understanding yourself and knowing yourself so well and finding strength and peace in who you are is the most effective way to deal with negative energy and opinions from others in your direction.
People can say what they want about you, but if you’re RIGHT WITH YOU, you can deflect negative opinions from others, knowing that they don’t really know you; they just have a biased opinion of you based on their own interpretation. If you can come to terms with this, what people say and think about you doesn’t matter nearly as much. You can absorb hate and hostility much easier, accepting what they’re saying, and not trying to change their opinion, but knowing that they’re wrong because you’ve done your work and you know who you are. Further more, your reputation is right where it matters, with the people who know the FULL you.
Hitting rock bottom forced me to re-learn to love myself, but love myself in a deeper way than I ever had before. It forced me to come face-to-face with my demons. To get to know the parts of me where I’m weak and broken. And once I got to know my shadow and learned how to work through it and be okay with it, I fell in ‘true love’ with myself, and experienced complete self-empowerment.
(7) You Can’t Move On With Hate
You must forgive to move on. And not just those who may have wronged you — but forgive yourself. Hating others and hating yourself isn’t going to get you anywhere. Holding hate and bitterness in your heart is just going to poison your own life, nobody else’s. So whatever mistakes you may have made, whatever mistakes someone may have made that affected you, forgive. Don’t forget what happened, but forgive and move on from it. The faster you learn how to forgive yourself and others, the faster you can be happy and improve your life.
(8) Being At Your Most Broken Gives You An Opportunity To Step Into Your Greatest Self
Not everybody is going to hit rock bottom in life. And that’s a good thing, because rock bottom is not a fun place. Unsurprisingly, those who do experience it usually feel angry, helpless, and powerless, and plead to God, “Why me?!?! God you’re a fucking asshole!!” But this is where you just need to stop being angry, instead turn it around and start being proactive to turn your dire situation on its head and kick the fucking shit out of it.
I believe that a difficult life circumstance is God’s way of saying, “Don’t be mad at me. Listen to me. Right now is shitty. I get it. I’m sorry. But I’m giving you this shitty situation because I have something greater planned for you. This shitty situation is in front of you because I have something greater planned for your life than you ever imagined. I expect more from you than you’re currently giving me. I’m asking you to rise and step into your greatest self and show me what you’re made of. I wouldn’t give you something I know you couldn’t handle. I’ve chosen you for this. It will all make sense soon, I promise. Just believe. I’m going to be there with you every step of the way.”
In my case, I knew I was being presented this difficult situation as a way to grow my life in a direction and way that I didn’t previously planned. Which, at first, is extremely difficult to wrap your head around and shift focus to change a story that you’ve come to be comfortable with. But give it time, the discomfort will soon dissipate and you will be okay with it.
So I had faith in God’s plan for my life. I started to believe that this unfathomable situation I was currently dealing with was — one day — going to have beautiful and poetic context in my life.
After I stepped out of my darkness, I went through one of the most liberating and self-empowered periods of my life. Rock bottom forces us to question who we are and the person we are, which in turn, forces us to defend ourselves and dig deep and fight to reclaim our own self-love.
(9) You’re Capable Of Overcoming Anything And Are Finally Ready For Success
After you come out the other side of hardship, you feel battle tested. You feel like you’ve been through some shit. Life hasn’t been a breeze for you, but you’re better off for it. And for this reason, you feel like you deserve to be happy. You’ve done your work and feel you’re ready for it now. You’ve been forced to stay awake, to dig deep, and fight for so many things that so many of us take for granted. That’s a beautiful thing — you come out and look at life with a deeper appreciation. The lens in which you view life is clearer, with a sharper image than before.
For me, I finally feel I’m ready for success. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t feel entitled to success, like God owes me one. But I do feel that I’ve done my self work, have figured out what is really important to me, what I love, what lights my soul on fire, what I want out of life and what I don’t want. I know it hasn’t been handed to me; I’ve had to fight my ass off just to get to the place I’m at now. So when I do find success, I won’t feel guilty for it. I will feel like I earned every penny of that success.
For anyone that’s currently going through a period of brokenness in life, just understand that the dust is going to settle and you will be at peace with everything eventually. Sometimes there are things in life that you can’t control, and being angry for what life gives you is trying to fight an impossible battle. Sometimes you have to surrender, and accept, trust, and have faith.
So what? Everything you’re dealing right now is not something you ever predicted for your life, or thought you would have to deal with. Just because the plan is different, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less beautiful; in fact, it’s probably going to be more beautiful than you could have ever imagined. You just have to remain open to the change, embrace it, and let it enter your life, and only then can you begin to find the beauty and peace in the new road that lies ahead.
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