Life does not always smile at us. Sometimes gets twisted. It gives us hard blows from which it is difficult to recover. When nothing goes well and the scaffolding that sustained the structure of our life falls apart, it is not strange that we end up hitting the bottom.
Then we feel that we slide – slowly but inexorably – through a tunnel without handholds. We fall without resistance. Without self-esteem to cling to. Without hope. With the certainty that we have nothing to lose – and nothing to gain either.
It is not a pleasant experience. No doubt. But after hitting the bottom emotionally, we must make sure we do not get stuck in that hole indefinitely. Just at that moment, when we are sunk and destroyed, we can use that experience to strengthen and grow.
We fall by the force of gravity, but we rise thanks to willpower
When we hit the bottom emotionally we have two options: to stay paralyzed in that hole or to begin the ascent. Although it seems irrational, the fact is that in certain circumstances the prospect of staying down there can be tempting. We get used to everything. And being in that hole, as dark, cold and agonizing as it is, finally frees us from the need to fight, gives us permission to lay down our weapons and lower our hands, already inert and without strength. In a way, that hole becomes a respite from all the problems that led us to the bottom. And that is appreciated.
On the other hand, the psychological weight we drag also takes away our strength to climb and clouds our mind, so we are unable to see a way out, even though we have it right in front of our eyes. However, staying at the bottom implies certain death – metaphorically and sometimes also literally. Therefore, as soon as we gather a bit of strength, we need to undertake the climb.
Five valuable lessons we learn when we hit the bottom
If we do not know how to swim to keep afloat, we will end up bottoming out. Although we do not like the feeling of drowning and do not know when we can leave, the background will allow us to gain momentum and embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal evolution. We can get something good out of that terrible experience.
1. We become aware of the true implications of the decisions we have made in life. Hitting the bottom teaches us that we are not immune to the blows of life and allows us to understand the scope of each and every step we have taken. It helps us to remove the blindfold and detect the wrong decisions that took us to that point of the road. At the same time, it helps us accept responsibility for our decisions, contributing to our realization that complaining, finding guilty persons or inventing excuses does not make any sense.
2. We discover our maladaptive behaviors and irrational beliefs. Hitting the bottom can be extremely enlightening. From there, when we do not have much else to lose, we can see life from another perspective, which can bring up all the irrational ideas that we have been feeding and the dysfunctional behaviors that we have put into practice. The most interesting thing is that at the bottom many of these thoughts and beliefs lose their power, so we understand that hitting the bottom was not only inevitable but necessary to reset and get rid of those unhealthy thought patterns.
3. We begin to question everything. When we reach the bottom, we begin to question not only our decisions, motivations and beliefs, but also those of the others. We acquire a greater maturity that allows us to see the world more objectively. This new perspective helps us to guide ourselves in the best way. Hitting the bottom is a blow of reality that takes us to rethink everything that we had taken for granted, an exercise that can open us unsuspected doors.
4. We gain humility and compassion. Many times, when we hit the bottom, we manage to develop an attitude that is detached towards ourselves. This means that we can see ourselves with more compassion, which does not imply feeling sorry for us but to be aware that we need to take care and love ourselves. Hitting the bottom also allows us to develop a more humble attitude towards life because it helps us to drop our ego. And it encourages us to value the simplest things in life, so that when we get out of that hole, we will be happy with much less.
5. We learn to let go of everything that harms us. There is nothing like hitting the bottom to learn to let go everything that is not worth or that harms us. Be it ideas, projects or even people. What at first may seem an internal emptying, in reality is an essential exercise to get rid of all those things that led us to that state. We let go what harms us to let come what will heal us.
Last but not least, hitting the bottom will help us find our true inner strength. It will become an empowering experience that will accompany us throughout life, helping us to put all problems in perspective and trusting more in our ability to move forward. Hit the bottom and to be able to leave the well will show us our capacity of resistance. And that is an experience that is not forgotten.
Start the ascent
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”, says a wise Buddhist quote. We cannot avoid falling, but we can stop that descent into depression and start climbing. At a certain point, we must stop digging to get out of the hole.
The ascent is not always easy. It will be step by step and there may be times when we need to take a break or even descend a little to gain momentum. The important thing is not to give up on the effort or fall into the role of the impotent victim.
For this, we need to start focusing on the positive, even if they are small things. While we were mired in misfortune, many positive things happened around us, but we were not able to see them. Now we need to change our glasses and look in that direction.
We just need to start the ascent knowing that the night is darker just before dawn. And dawn, dawns always.