About four years ago, I had flat-out hit rock bottom—emotionally, financially, mentally, and spiritually. The crash was painful in every way, and I finally had no choice but to face myself brutally, painfully, and honestly.
Years later, I look back with immense gratitude for the incredible gifts that time bestowed upon me. It instilled in me a deep trust that the universe actually did have my back, contrary to external appearances and bank balances.
You might think I’m crazy for saying this, but I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat, for the incredible insights and growth I gained through what were most definitely my darkest hours.
But like any good adventure, it’s only worthwhile if you come back having learned some solid lessons and with wisdom to share from having survived the fall. And so, with twenty-twenty hindsight, here are my top 12 reasons why hitting rock bottom is a good thing, and why everyone should aim to hit rock bottom at least once in their lifetime:
- Reflection and Realization
At the bottom, you realize just how far off course you were, and that your life choices were simply not sustainable. It’s in those dark moments of despair that your anger and frustration become so great and you declare once and for all to never again accept such mediocrity from yourself or from others.
- Seeing your dysfunctional behaviors
At the bottom, all your dysfunctional behaviors are finally revealed. If you never hit your lowest point, the dysfunctions continue to go unnoticed and unchecked, playing out under the denial radar and inevitably creating bigger dysfunctions and a harder fall down the track. Until the bubble bursts, you cleverly delude yourself into thinking everything is juuuuust great—and your life ends up being built on a big, fat lie and a false foundation.
- Gaining Fresh Perspective
Hitting rock bottom is the beginning of questioning everything that you’ve ever thought to be true. You question your motives, other people’s motives, your beliefs, your fears, why you did things, why you didn’t do things, why you attracted certain people and circumstances, why you succeeded, why you failed. The very fabric of your life is turned upside down and examined in raw detail. It’s from this point that you build again, from the ground up, with a fresh perspective based on your renewed sense of clarity.
- Self-awareness of Bad Habits & Behaviors
At the bottom, your disempowering patterns and behaviors become glaringly obvious, and the triggers that kept you repeating those behavior patterns come into sharp focus. You realize that hitting rock bottom was not only inevitable but necessary, because those behaviors were simply not conducive to your growth. On top of that, and perhaps most importantly, all the roles you’d been playing pop into your conscious awareness. It becomes clear that you’ve been a kind of puppet, playing the same role over and over, creating the same dynamics over and over, and keeping the drama going over and over, like a well-paid actor in a soap opera. It’s not until you break the mold and start the journey back to your true self that you stop playing those old, scratched records and begin to create new conscious outcomes.
- Trusting in Life
You realize at the bottom that you were, in fact, not where you thought you were in life. You let your ego run the show with grandiose ideas about what you could do—not knowing you didn’t yet have the foundation to successfully accomplish those things. Ego’s death grip loosens when you come to this realization; you start to trust life and choose to live in the moment more often. As you surrender to your higher self more and more, you align with your right purpose and right life path. And it feels good.
You gain humility. You see that life is not black and white and that you don’t know everything. In fact, you realize you know very little, and you decide to become a student of life rather than a juror.
You gain compassion. You understand what it’s like for people in the depths of despair, shame, guilt, and fear. You can’t help but come back from the bottom feeling immense empathy with the human condition.
- Letting Go
You’re able to let go of everything because nothing is working anyway! Letting go of the old creates space for the new and soon new ideas, people, opportunities, talents, and gifts start to flood into your experience. As you empty your cup, so to speak, you fill it back up with stuff that you actually want, instead of accepting what was unconsciously passed onto you. Life hands you a fresh cup of reality.
- Taking Responsibility
After you’ve hit the bricks, you—perhaps for the first time—begin to accept full responsibility for all the outcomes in your life. You see that blaming is futile, that complaining is dumb, and that making excuses is for the unenlightened. You realize it was you who created all the good and all the bad in your life. You dug the hole in which you’re trapped, and only you can dig yourself out of it in order to finally become whole.
- The Only Way is Up
The good news is, once you’ve hit rock bottom, you know you can’t possibly go any lower. You realize the bottom is actually a great springboard from which to push yourself up to the surface—away from the darkness and back into the light.
- Trusting Yourself
Hitting rock bottom wakes you up to how you were relying on externals to make you happy. Instead of needing outside validation, you begin to trust yourself and start the journey within to find your own sense of self, your own sense of purpose, and your own validation. This new inner sanctuary becomes the foundation for your happy and meaningful new life.
And finally, after hitting your lowest point, you become enormously grateful for all that you have from that time forward. You’re sure that your situation can only get better from here, and it does. Simple things—a smile from a stranger, fresh food in the fridge, warm clothes on your body, a comfy bed, your good health—become things to treasure. Your existence is a constant prayer of gratitude to the universe and to yourself for having the courage to move beyond hard times and choose life when you could have chosen a number of other options just to make the pain go away. The gems mined in your darkest moments are what give you depth, courage, wisdom, and richness that can’t be learned elsewhere. Your ability to fly is in direct proportion to your willingness and courage to face your version of rock bottom. If you’ve ever been there and bounced back to tell the story, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
If you’re currently sitting on rock bottom and still chafing your behind, you’re probably cursing this post. But as someone who’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt, I can tell you that in years to come, you’ll appreciate the experience (and the chafing) as the best thing that ever happened to you.
Only once you are willing to explore your darkest depths can you truly be of service in the world. Only when the old foundations crumble can you begin to build again on new and solid ground.
This is the gift of rock bottom: aim for it.