What am I going to do?
Where do I go from here?
How could I possibly get out of this?
If you, like me, have ever been in situations where you feel like you’ve fallen down a deep, dark ditch and are lying on a bed of quick sand, then you know how distressing it is to have those “black hole” kind of thoughts where there seems to be no beginning and no end. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, you’re stuck in a continual state of panic and life feels like it could never possibly move on from this.
However, if you've ever hit rock bottom, then you know as well as I do that no matter how much you believe there’s no escape route to the deep, dark ditch, that we’re both living proof of life carrying on and things turning out for the better. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark and dreary our lives appear to be.
Here are five things to remember when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom.
1. Struggle and pain are exercises for strength
Elizabeth Gilbert says in her memoir, Eat Pray Love, “You should never give yourself the chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice being strong instead.”
It’s easy to break down at the crossroads of a major life change; no one likes feeling lost with no map of where they’re heading. If every time we felt fearful we decided to hide instead of fight our angst, we would never realize our full potential to fend against trying times. Struggle, pain and discomfort are released from our bodies when we use them for personal growth. As unsettling as hitting rock bottom is, it’s really one of the only times in our lives that we’re forced to ascend to our greatness.
2. If nothing else, this is a great learning experience…
Think of the last really hard time in your life - I’m sure it immediately pops up in your mind - all the rough mornings, lonely nights and bleak moments in between. Now, as easy as it was for those memories to come to the surface, think about the resilience and renewal you felt as you began to get to know yourself again. You learned that even in the midst of chaos you stood as the calm of the storm and carried yourself from dismay to ease, from doubt to confidence.
Sometimes when we look at ourselves from an objective point of view and watch our behavior during a period of pain as simply something we are going through, we take some of the burden off our backs by realizing that as with everything in life, this too shall pass.
3. Creating and maintaining a solid support system
As much as we amount to our own strength during difficult times, we also recognize the encouragement in others when we need them the most. We either conceive of how lucky we are to have such amazing people in our lives that care about us or we meet people who inspire and elevate us to move beyond our current outlook.
Even though it ultimately comes down to us to pick ourselves back up, we find in these moments how important it is to be self-reliant within the compounds of having a stable circle of friends and family for support.
4. The glass is always half-full
Marcus Aurelius once said: “Very little is needed to make a happy life, it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
Whether you’re at rock bottom, half way up the mountain, or looking down off the cliff, at every stage of your life you have the gift of choosing to see things in whatever way you like. Of course when you’re at the bottom and feeling helpless, it’s not always so easy to turn the switch and see things for the better. But something to remember when you are the one looking up and not down: you and only you can change your life. Choose to change it for the better.
5. Hitting rock bottom only leaves you with one direction; up
So now you’re here: the bottom of the pit; the depths of despair; the all time low; rock bottom. Where else could you possibly go from here but up? I know it’s cliché, but if anything will be your lantern in the dark of the night let it be this: nothing would ever be brought into your experience that you could not overcome. Everything that gets delivered to your doorstep has a place and a purpose, even if it is to tear you apart a little, to shake you up and make you grow.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says so fittingly: “Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing..."