There’s a quote by Jim Rohn that I believe to be true of all of us and our circumstances. It’s a quote that sums up not only why we finally get into action, but also why we keep at it when the going gets tough, which it inevitably will. I’ve used it on my ‘About Me’ page as it’s a quote that has had a profound effect on my understanding of my motivations. Here’s the quote:
We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.
Whilst one of these motivations is positive, for the most part, I think change comes about for many people as a reaction to a set of negative circumstances that finally drives them to make the change for the better. This was the case for Jim Rohn.
Today’s post is about this negative, but ultimately positive reason for making changes in our lives.
We’ll all experience low points in our lives. Their severity will vary as will our ability to cope with ‘the slings and arrows’ that come our way. But what exactly is a low point, or, to use the vernacular, rock bottom?
There’s no absolute definition, instead, it can be anything that causes our ability to cope with daily life to diminish to a point where we feel acute disempowerment, scarcity, embarrassment, numbness to life’s pleasures, loneliness, overwhelm, mis-alignment with our values, misery etc. This list isn’t exhaustive and I’m sure you can add your own thoughts and experiences to this.
We can be laid low be seemingly inconsequential circumstances, but, like water dripping on a stone, we can eventually crack under the relentless patter of a situation that we find uncomfortable.
Alternatively, an event can be so unexpected or profound, that the experience affects our ability to function effectively.
One of the more famous stories to fall into this category recently came from the commencement speech given by J K Rowling at Harvard in 2008, when, referring to the difficulties she’d experienced when writing the first of the Harry Potter series, she said:
I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
J K Rowling was referring to the time in her life which had seen the passing of her mother, divorce from her first husband and father of her child and a period in which she had lived on benefits.
Hitting rock bottom is hard (pun intended). Why else would it be called that? But it’s also the place where you can finally stop, stand up and take stock – if you allow yourself to do so. This is the point where the frustration and anger will finally dissipate, where the sadness and fear will overwhelm but where it can also be released and become a strength that you didn’t know you possessed.
From here, it’s possible to start making the changes, inch-by-inch, hour-by-hour and day-by-day. This is the opportunity to start again, but this time, with new insight and better plans.
Feeling humiliated is often part of the deal when hitting your lowest point. You’ve messed up, big time. You feel stupid and possibly remorseful for the things you know you’ve done to others, even if it was never the intention to hurt.
But whilst rock bottom is lonely, humiliating and scary, we are never alone. In landing in this place, we’ve merely taken the place of someone else who has recently found the strength and courage to look up and climb out. Now it’s our turn. Our turn to re-assess what got us to this place, what changes we need to make, what strengths we’ll need to muster from within so that we too can climb towards a better life.
And this is the crux. Hitting rock bottom should be the catalyst for change, it should never be the place we stay. The reality is that if we stay there, we have another rock bottom heading our way. Things will only get worse until we finally accept the messages life is throwing at us.
Staying there potentially leads to a place where our spirit may be broken, where we no longer feel able to pull ourselves out. It’s at times like these when friends and family may intervene, that things may finally begin to turn around for us.
But, this may not always work since rock bottom is a very personal place.
What’s enough for one person may not be so for another. If you’ve reached a point where you’re not going to put up with these conditions, this treatment, the embarrassment, the pain or any other circumstance any longer and you’re ready to do something about it, you’ve reached your personal rock bottom. But look around and you will see others facing the same struggles but they’re not yet ready for change. They will need to sink further still before reaching their lowest ebb.
In the end, choosing to address our personal rock bottom and make the change is our responsibility. Whilst our loved ones may endeavour to help us move forward, if we’re not ready, then no lasting progress will be made.
Like everyone, I have had my fair share of ups and downs. Indeed, this post was inspired by an event this week that has prompted me to look at where I need to make further changes in my life if I’m to align with my personal values and therefore feel happier.
What about you? Did you reach a personal rock bottom and have climbed (or begun the climb) back out to a happier life? Or maybe you haven’t quite hit your rock bottom yet, but you know it’s coming? I’m always inspired by the stories of others, so please do share if you feel able to.
Want more like this? You can get my free pdf download ‘5 Reasons You Still Haven’t Made the Change! Or Why Am I Still Procrastinating!‘ by following the link below!
Photo: Symphony of Love