5 Reasons Why Hitting Rock Bottom Can Change Your Life for Better
I don’t say you should aim to hit rock bottom but sometimes we need a gentle Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) and hitting a low point in life can be a great catalyzer of such maneuvers (and yes I shamelessly used an Aerospace terminology “TCM”).
Three years ago I had one of those rock bottom moments — emotionally, mentally, and physically. I remember finding myself in a place where I had never imagined to be. I had no choice but to sit down and face myself with what I had done and where I had ended up. Looking back with twenty-twenty hindsight it almost seems like this was all a big “plan”. Had it not been for those tough times my life would be completely different right now.
I wrote this memo almost immediately after that experience but I never felt like sharing it would be useful nor did I think talking openly about hitting rock bottom seemed like a great idea. But that all changed when I realized it’s not the low points in life that define who we are, its rather how we deal with those low points that define who we will be. And if this post can encourage others who are going through rough times to take this opportunity to bounce back up stronger than before, then that would make me happy and this post would be worthwhile.
Here are the 5 reasons hitting a low point in life helped me bounce back stronger than before:
ONE: It’s only during your rock bottom that you can see the build-up that led into the final collision. You start connecting the dots. The patterns and behaviors that led you into the collision become very clear. It’s as if you pretended to be blind before. This is the time that you realize how far off course you were from your path and the real you. If you never hit your rock bottom you will continue denying the problems and the gorilla grows bigger and bigger. It’s during this time that you realize you were “stuck” in a loop with subjective and random rules that you either defined for yourself or even worse, others defined for you, all so you can skip questioning the real reasons. You realize that hitting rock bottom was not only inevitable but necessary because these behaviors would have eventually back-fired. Until you have hit your rock bottom you are going to pretend everything is just great and you end up living in a fairy tale. But when you have nothing else to lose, this is when you can project your frustration, anger, and your blame into a new and sustainable path where the bar is going to be that much higher than before.
TWO: It’s only during your rock bottom that all of your assumptions about life goes under consideration. You question everything and everyone. You question your judgments, your motivations, your beliefs, your relationships, your actions, your friendships, and your fears. You question why you do what you do (the effect of these questions on your psychology deserve a standalone post). Every single incident that happened in your life flashes in front of your eyes. You even question your successes and failures. This is the definition of rock bottom. This is when you roll up your sleeves and literally start building from the ground up. With a clarity that you never had before and with the wisdom of a much more experienced person.
THREE: It’s only during your rock bottom that you truly realize your potential. Before hitting rock bottom you thought you were at the right place in life but in fact you were not even close to where you were supposed to be. Before you hit your rock bottom your ego was driving your life with a flat tire. You kept going forward and trusting the present moment more than thinking about the foundation and health of your car. This is when you realize that it’s better to go slow in the right direction than to go fast in the wrong direction.
FOUR: It’s only during your rock bottom that you gain true humility, compassion, and humbleness. This is when you realize you are not perfect, there are always 2 sides to the coin, nothing is black & white, and life has ups & downs for everyone, including you. This is when you are reminded that your time as a student will never end and you will always be learning from life. Maybe this will be a start of a journey to a judgment-free you.
FIVE: It’s only during your rock bottom that you understand what truly makes you happy and what truly makes you sad, what you really care about and what is not all that important to you. It’s during this time when you have nobody that you realize you don’t need outside validation to feel happy. It’s during these tough times that you realize your goal in life is to make yourself happy and live a good life. Nothing else matters and everything except “pursuit of happiness” is a distraction. This fresh inner philosophy will drive you forward to a much more meaningful and purposeful life.
How you deal with your rock bottom will define the rest of your journey. This is when the old castle has come down on you and you have to reconstruct from scratch. You can either make a solid ground with a strong foundation or do nothing about it. That’s the difference between a fighter and a loser. It’s totally up to you!