Have you ever hit rock bottom?
It’s never a nice spot, no one ever enjoys it. There’s a couple opportunities which we’ll get into later, but first we’ll talk about what it looks like.
In the recovery space, in the mindset, we’ve all gotten to that spot on our own. If you’re not in the recovery space, or battling an addiction, or substance abuse, but we might have our own separate rock bottom. Our own individual spot. We don’t have to go into detail about what our own rock bottom is, but identify if you’ve been there. Have you gotten to that spot where, not that you think anything can get any lower, but you’re at a spot where things don’t make sense anymore. You find yourself in a predicament where all of a sudden you world is flipped, turned upside down, and there seems to be no way of escape. That’s what rock bottom is.
Hitting Rock Bottom
If I have learned anything from life, it’s that sometimes the darkest times can bring us to the brightest of places. I’ve learned that the most toxic people can teach us the most important lessons. That our most painful struggles can grant us the most necessary growth and the most heartbreaking losses of friendship and love, can make room for the most wonderful people. I’ve learned that what seems like a curse in the moment can actually be a blessing, and what seems like the end of the road is actually just the discovery that we’re meant for a different path. I’ve learned that no matter how difficult things might seem, that I should always have hope and stay calm. I have learned that no matter how powerless I feel, or how horrible things may seem, I can’t give up. I have to keep going even when it’s scary. Even when all my strength seems gone. I have to keep picking myself up and moving forward, because whatever I’m battling in the moment it will pass. I will make it through, I’ve made it this far. I can make it through whatever comes next!
Tony Robbins says, “Whatever we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible is rarely a function of our true capability it’s more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”
Today we’re talking about what it feels like to hit rock bottom, to get to that spot, to hit that lull. Where things don’t make sense anymore. When it seems impossible to deal with, it’s hard when you’re experiencing it. It’s even harder when you see someone else go through it.
That’s what we’re talking about today, recovery, addiction, challenges. We’re talking about things we go & see, have experiences that we want to change. This blog is called Outstanding Live, because that’s what my hope is. Is that everyone who’s reading this, has an Outstanding Life.
Hitting rock bottom is personal.
What I mean is, it doesn’t have to be monumental component. An example would be when I realized that I go to the spot (in the heat of my addiction), before I started recovery. I was in a spot that wasn’t healthy, I was making poor decisions, and I had a negative vibe. I didn’t have a supportive community. I had a lot of friends. I wanted to change it, but I wasn’t committed. I knew something had to change, but I wasn’t motivated enough to do anything about it. You know when you’re unhappy at a certain spot, but you’re not unhappy enough to want to do something about it. So you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and you wonder why your life isn’t changing? That was me. That was the spot I was in.
I remember telling my girlfriend at the time, “Hey you know what?” I was telling her this idea I had about moving to a different province. I was saying, “You should come with me, this will be great, we’ll just escape from everything, we’ll start over.”
She didn’t have the same mindset, I remember coming home shortly after this talk. And all I had left was was a box spring and my little computer. Everything else was gone. I remember coming home, sitting there. My landlord called me up when I was at work, he said, “Jason I want you to hear it from me first, I helped your girlfriend move out.”
I tried to be cool, “Oh, okay. Sure. No problem.” This was me trying to stuff my emotions, and brush it off. But when you go home, walk into your place, and it’s empty, that’s rock bottom. When the only thing you have to your name is a box spring and a PC. The PC isn’t going to wrap you in a blanket and keep you warm. A PC isn’t going to help you fill the fridge with food, and neither is a box spring. I look at that moment, for me that was an epic turning point.
I didn’t know what to do.
I had no where else to go. I had nothing else to my name. I really wasn’t sure how I was going to move forward. If you rewind a little bit, to the steps beforehand. What would cause someone to think that was a good idea, to pack up and go. What was the conditions I was laying down beforehand?
Even if it was 99% my girlfriend’s fault, and maybe it was only 1% my fault. I was trying to make a story, that she did all these things. She packed up all the stuff, she did all that to me. But what I’m not shining light on is, what was I doing? What part did I have that played into the situation? What can I own up to in that moment?
I wasn’t open to that level of conversation at the time, back then I was a very different person. I had a very different mindset, I wasn’t open to any conversation. That was probably one of the hardest things a person can do, is try to have this kind of conversation with someone.
I was consuming alcohol, I was drinking more booze in a month, than I was eating food. I was consuming things I shouldn’t be. I was hanging around people I didn’t need to. I probably wasn’t a supportive a boyfriend in my relationship. When you add all those things up, then suddenly I pop this idea to my girlfriend saying, “Hey we should just move. We’ll keep doing the same thing, but we’ll just be over here instead. It’ll be fine, it’ll be great.”
That was her queue to up and go. I look back now and appreciate where she was coming from. That was probably the best move for her to make, for both of us. But for me in that moment, that first night, when I’m laying on the box spring, trying to keep warm. It’s the longest night ever. It’s like when I was walking from the mailbox in the rain, without an umbrella. It’s a long walk when it’s raining, it get’s cold, and you don’t have an umbrella.
It’s also cold when you don’t have anything but a box spring.
It’s in those moments, you get to that spot where you’re now open to certain conversations. It’s only in those low moments, that when you feel like you’ve got nothing, that there’s something you can move forward with. That’s kind of a tough thing, because not everyone is ready before that event. That event crisis point. In another episode we talked about the kind of stress we deal with, and the triggers that happen.
Today we’re talking about what happens when the train goes loose, and it’s just nothing. We’ve bypassed the stress, we’ve set off the triggers, and now we just hit rock bottom. We’ve made a gradual progression through these episodes.
Hitting rock bottom for me was an eye opener. I was losing friends, I was not in a position that was favourable with my family, I was a disappointment to my mom (that was really tough). I wasn’t that good of a guy. When I reached out to my best friend, I didn’t know what else to do. I knew he moved provinces already. I phoned him saying, “Hey, you know what? I’m packed and ready to go.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve got a box spring, a computer, and I need to move.”
“Sure no problem. I can help you out.”
Within a very short amount of time, he was able to help me move provinces. When I had nothing, he supported me. He got me a winter coat, food, he didn’t ask for anything in return. I’m thankful that he helped me out. I owe him the world. When someone believes in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself, it’s a huge thing. There are times when you’ll have friends, you’ll have family, who are suffering. And in the heat of their addiction, despite everything falling apart, I don’t want to say, “Just believe in them, and it will all get better.”
No! But it is from a reassurance standpoint, that they won’t feel alone. I’m not saying, give them 18,000,000 chances, again no. You need to be safe for you. We’ll dig into that in another post. Hitting rock bottom is not always a difficult spot for everybody, but it can be a key moment. Where it can be a make, or break situation. For me that was my turning point. Moving provinces, helped change my environment, and here I am. It’s important to note, this was my own personal side of things, what works for me, may not work for you.
Is hitting rock bottom be a good thing?
We know it’s never an easy thing to do, but can hitting rock bottom be a motivator? Can a rock bottom be key moment? We talked earlier about how it was key for me, but if you were to try and have that same conversation with me a month before, six months before, a year before. I wouldn’t have been open to any of those conversations.
When I was sitting there, telling my girlfriend we should move provinces, I wasn’t even open to what she was going through in life, or what her priorities were. I remember a few months before she decided she quit drinking. For me that was a night & day decision, I asked her, “What do you mean you stop drinking? But that’s what we always do, we always go out and do all these things.” When she stopped, I didn’t. It was only a few months later that everything fell apart. It wasn’t the end of the world, it sure felt like it.
So can hitting rock bottom be a motivator? It can be, if we’re open to those certain kinds of conversations. I was telling my mom all this, and she was told me some excellent mom advice.
We all have lessons we need to learn, and those lessons will come up at certain times in life. This is when we have to roll with those experiences, we have to go through them and learn. If we don’t learn from those experiences, we’ll be doomed to repeat the lesson. By repeating the lesson, we’ll have to go through the exercise again, but the next time we’ll have more at risk. Now the stakes are higher, now we’ll lose more if we don’t learn these lessons.
When my mom told me that, I wasn’t open to that conversation, it didn’t phase me. But it wasn’t until I was losing more, and more, that I got to the spot where I was like, “Holy crap, none of my friends trust me. None of my family really want to spend time with me. Even my girlfriend didn’t want anything to do with me.”
Again I wasn’t a positive guy at the time, I wasn’t really supportive. I was in the heat of all my addiction, so it’s not the same solution for everybody. But hitting rock bottom can be a good thing, if we’re open to that kind of idea. Now there’s no way you can get someone to say, “This is something I want.”
I need to be clear, no one wants to hit rock bottom, but everyone wants to have that mindset. They want to get that change, they want the positive light where they want the outcome at the end, but don’t want to have to go through the experience.
I made substance abuse & alcoholism a priority for so long, that when someone no longer wanted to have that in their life, it meant they didn’t want me in their life. Fast forward to today, and the only people I have in my life now are people who are on the same path. The people who are choosing a positive light, the people that are supportive, encouraging, they want the best for themselves, and the best for others. If you’re not conducive to that, then I don’t have you as a part of my tribe.
It’s not that hitting rock bottom is a bad thing, but we can use it to help shape us into something more.
We can use it to help build on what we had. Even though I’ve shared a story about losing everything, it’s a pretty low point to build from. But the only place to go is up. It’s pretty easy to go up when the only place you have is way down low.
Feelings vs Facts
We associate feelings to facts. When it comes to experiences, we’ll know the facts about that experience, but then we’ll attach our own story to it. We’ll start telling ourselves these stories, and we attach these feelings on top of all these stories. What can happen is if we’re associating a negative story to these facts, pretty soon those feelings that we’re showing up with, will then also be negative.
Over a period of time, we’ll only have a negative belief about ourselves, about everyone else. What can happen is, it seems challenging. If you start talking yourself down, if you start rounding down in your assumptions & beliefs, if you start curbing in your ideas & expectations, pretty soon the only belief you have about yourself is negative. And if the only idea you have about yourself is about failing, the only way you can succeed then is by failing. Which sounds insane, but people walk around with these negative ideas.
Tony Robbins says, “The biggest challenge with ghetto’s and these communities is they’ll talk each other down. They’ll tell each other, “You can’t do that. You shouldn’t do this because you’re not smart enough, you’re not funny enough, you’re not tall enough, you don’t make enough money to do these things.” Until pretty soon the person hearing all this begins to believe it, and then they start accepting it. Then the only thing they’re ever going to do is stay in the same community.
That’s where choosing a different light, choosing to surround myself with different people. I’m not saying that by surrounding yourself with different people, you’ll never have a rock bottom, you will. You just won’t have as low of a rock bottom.
My rock bottom today was going for a walk without an umbrella.
Okay, that’s not nearly as bad as coming home to an empty house. But the ideas are still the same. Where it’s kind of a hit, and miss. You’re going to roll with the punches. You’re going to be able to pick yourself back up, and you’re going to be able to keep going. The only way you’re going to keep going is if you actually get back up. But the hardest thing is to not just get knocked down, but it’s not stay there. To not accept that, to choose a better light. To choose to make the decision that you’re actually worth more. That you have a better mindset, than just choosing to accept your given circumstances.
What thoughts do we repeat to ourselves? What facts are we experiencing?
If you have the facts about something, I know the distance from my house to the gym. I know I can ride my bike to the gym. It takes me 15 mins. But the feelings I have about it are, “Oh I haven’t got a car, and the weather is bad, and I’m really warm in my bed.” I start making up these ideas where I want to accept it. My initial knee jerk reaction is to stay in bed where it’s warm, rather than get up early and go to the gym. If I go workout later on in the day, I won’t have as much time to do everything else I want. But if I were to budget my time and go to the gym, there’s a difference between the facts that I have, and the story I’m telling myself.
If I only believe in just the feelings I’m coming up with, those stories, I’ll never get out of bed. I’ll never achieve these things, I’ll never go to the gym. I’ll never go get my license, or buy a car, these are things that can be limiting. These limiting beliefs they can crush communities, if left unchecked. They can crush our own mindset, and they can curb our enthusiasm down to the point where we hit that spot and there is no other place to go.
It’s okay to hit rock bottom, but what’s not okay is to stay there.
What I wanted to share is it’s okay to ask what thoughts are we having, and repeatedly if we keep telling ourselves certain things, it can have an impact on the inside. We’re always going to have facts, we’re always going to have experiences, but what we also have is an opportunity to shape that fact into a new experience, by attaching a new label to it.
I’m not saying, if you’re broke and you have no money, don’t just be positive about being broke. That doesn’t do anything. I can be positive that I’m broke but I’m not going to get anymore money from that thought, I’m going to want to move myself through that.
Maybe hitting rock bottom is what it takes for me to build a plan, to get a head.
Hitting rock bottom isn’t the same experience for each person. I remember disappointing one of my friends and that did not phase me. I disappointed another friend and that didn’t phase me. Until pretty soon I had a collection of friends that no longer believed in me, or liked to be around me. Eventually that grew to a point where you come home and your house is empty. If left unchecked that can be an outcome, it’s super challenging when that happens. No one ever wants that, no one wishes that on anyone, but the ideas are still the same.
Being at that spot, would be a motivator to push myself forward if I believed in that. If I’m willing & open to the idea to attach a new meaning to my situation. If I’m willing to rephrase it.
Safety moment: It’s okay to not know the answers.
It’s okay to get to that spot where you don’t know what to do. It’s okay to identify that someone else is having a challenge, it’s okay to not know what to do. There’s no one answer for everybody. The same solution for me, might not work for you. I knew that had I not made the right choices, healthy choices, I probably wouldn’t be here. It’s difficult to share that, but I wasn’t in a good mindset, nor was I open to have certain conversations. It took hitting that bottom for me to want to move forward.
There are people in my life now, who haven’t made that choice. There are friends and family, who are on the struggle and they are not willing to see beyond that. All they ever experience is just what’s in front of them. They see only the 10 seconds in front of their face, and that’s super challenging for me. The good nature person I am, wants to fix that, I want to offer that. But I can’t do that for them, that’s the important part.
There’s a safety point where you have to draw the line for you, for you to want to be safe. You’re not going to jeopardize yourself, I’m not going to jeopardize myself to help somebody else. I’m not going to pull myself down, back to that time it wasn’t healthy or supportive. That’s super sad.
Even yesterday, I removed someone from my circle of friends because it wasn’t something I was willing to have in my life anymore. It wasn’t at that level, they weren’t willing to be a better person, nor did they want to choose a better life. It’s hard when it’s someone that you care about, and it’s even harder when you need to make the decision for you, to want to up and go. But it’s the right thing to do. For you and for them.
Identifying a habit before it becomes a problem.
By breaking the pattern, by interrupting the cycle. When we start telling ourselves that we can’t do something, or we start rounding down with our assumptions about ourselves and what we’re capable of. We have an opportunity. We can’t replace the fact that has already happened, but we can attach a new meaning, we can add a new layer on top of that.
We’re not masking it, we’re not hiding it, we’re actually owning it. By owning it, it allows us to move through it. We can accept it for what it is, we can hold onto that moment. Give it the 30 seconds, 2 minutes, or 1 hour (however long it takes for you to bite onto that). Once you have it, don’t be afraid to just let it go, and to move on. By attaching a new meaning, we break the pattern, we break the cycle.
Don’t just run with the first knee jerk reaction. It’s okay to have those reactions, it’s just not good to make decisions on those reactions. In another episode we talked about stress and how we manage that stress once we have it. How we can help mitigate stress prior to it building up. In that episode we talked about past stress, current stress, and future stress. In another episode we talked about what sets us off (triggers). In this episode we’re diving into what happens when the habit becomes a problem. When we hit rock bottom, we’re at that low spot when you don’t fee like there’s any other way to go.
Replace limiting beliefs with liberating truths
This is very similar to interrupting our patterns, by having that second sober thought. *pun intended* You have the opportunity to help shape it into a new experience. Here’s an example, I believed for the longest time that someone (like a bank), would never trust somebody enough to give an addict or an alcoholic credit. I believed no one would ever love someone who’s suffering from alcoholism or addiction. Because of this, I told myself that I was never worth of a valuable relationship.
Then I would create more false beliefs, based on the original false beliefs. Telling myself, “Since no one would give me a car, I should never go get my license, because I’m an alcoholic, because I’m an addict.” These are the things that I told myself, and for the longest time, I believed. Because I believed in them for so long, I didn’t get my license, I didn’t bother buying a car, I didn’t both having quality relationships.
I would embrace these low level impacts openly. I would accept these low run, wins. But it was never really a win. I would try convince myself these are, but in my heart of hears, they never were.
Once I quit drinking, I put my money in the bank. After a year or two, I had some money saved. I didn’t realize how much I drank until then. If you were to tell me a few years ago this would happen, I would tell you it was going to be impossible.
Today I may not have my license, but I do have my learners. I still don’t have a car, but the important thing is I am not letting it stop me. I’m not using it as an excuse. I’ve replaced my limiting belief with a liberating truth. Sure I don’t have one thing, but I do have an opportunity to change it. I have an opportunity to help shape it into something more.
It’s okay to have these thoughts. It’s okay to have a bad relationship. It’s not okay to let that bad relationship to start making bad decisions for you.
Butter’s from Southpark said, “Well yeah, I’m sad. But at the same time I’m really happy that something can make me feel that sad. It’s like… it makes me feel alive, you know? It makes me feel human. The only way I can feel this sad now is if I felt something really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I’m feeling is like a beautiful sadness.”
Negative emotions are a signal, it’s a signal, or a message that something needs to change.
If I’m feeling this negative emotion, then I have an opportunity to replace that emotion with something different. If I’m unhappy, if I’m feeling this emotion and it’s about being broke. Yes there’s the feeling, but I can also change that, to move me forward into action. Not just be unhappy about being broke, not be unhappy about losing your girlfriend, lost your job, those are setbacks. Those are roadblocks, it’s not losing everything. We have a chance to help shape it into something more. Yeah it’s crappy in the moment, but it’s not life defining. It can be life changing.
I never thought a few years ago, I’d have my learners, or that I’d be surrounded by quality people in my life who are supportive, encouraging, who are amazing. I never thought I’d have these things until someone shared with me that’s possible.
Believing in yourself is one thing, But when someone believes in you when you don’t even believe in yourself, that can make all the difference. So when there’s people out there on the struggle, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just they haven’t reached that spot yet, where they’re open to certain conversations.
For me, I read a generic corporate email at work, it was a wellness Wednesday topic. It wasn’t addressed to me, but the message did hit me. It was called, “When a habit becomes a problem.” That one sentence stuck with me, I held on to that and couldn’t let go.
It was in that moment that I realized, “I have a problem.”
That’s when I reached out for help. Until then there were friends I had disappointed, people I had let down, and despite doing all those things, some of those people are still my friends. There’s a step in recovery where we make a list of all the people we have harmed, and later we make amends with them when it’s safe to do so. Even when it’s hard in that moment, to want to trust somebody, or believe in them, -they’re hurting.
I was hurting, we’re all hurting, but let’s not use that hurting to make bad decisions. Let’s not use that hurting to form believes, let’s not use the hurting, to reinforce more hurting.
The hurting is enough pain. Just like Butter’s said, the pain is a reflection of how good things were and how positive things were. Maybe things needed to change, the challenge is being open to those ideas after experiencing those things, and maybe there’s a way we can help bridge that forward. But it’s not until that moment (when we’re open & willing), that the experience seems scary & ominous, that is where rock bottom is.
That’s where we take the higher road. That’s where we let people go. That’s where we move on. That’s where healing begins.
Thank you everyone, Take Care.