Why Do We Wait to Hit Bottom?

7 years ago
Outdoor Sports

We've all heard of the concept of hitting bottom. Generally it's associated with alcoholism or other forms of addiction. But there are other areas of life in which we can hit bottom. How do we recognize when we've reached the valley and are ready to start climbing back toward the mountain top? Are there some areas for which we have to hit bottom, or is it possible to recognize that we are going in the wrong direction and pull up instead?

I suspect that our popular culture conception of hitting bottom might be a myth. The idea that there is one spectacularly awful moment at which an epiphany of crystal clarity occurs and change becomes inevitable seems to me to be a kind of made-for-the-movies fantasy. I've known addicts who have had to move through repeated cycles of seriously bad stuff in their lives and lather-rinse-repeat the experience of rehab before attaining a substance-free life that remains that way only as long as they do the hard work of making the choice every day when they wake up.

That doesn't mean that we cannot recognize when we are on a downward slide -- when we are in a space that feels rocky and uncomfortable -- and recognize that we need to take action in order to change course. That is probably a more useful story to tell ourselves.

And, any moment can become a "bottom." Rather than waiting until things feel like they can get no worse before admitting that something is a problem or not working or is no longer serving us, we can start to tune in to the radio of our lives. We can get better at pulling in the weak signals, the little voices that whisper to us and not have to wait until they pound on and shake us in order to get our attention.

Some lessons might take many cycles of learning for us to truly grasp. How much more useful would it be to forgive ourselves the need to repeat a class rather than only allowing ourselves the extremes of absolute failure and perfect success?

Part of the reason why many of us wait is because it can feel like it is safer or easier to remain trapped by inertia and await gravity's pull to wrestle us to the ground than it is to recognize our problems and do something about them. Learning and repeating lessons can be painful and scary. Easier to not take responsibility until the very last moment when we've lost all support and have run out of excuses.

There are many reasons to face the fear and deal with the pain. One is because life will not stop providing lessons and learning opportunities. We are not born whole and we die incomplete. Another reason is because the rewards for dealing with the difficult are strength, resilience, confidence and courage. While I certainly don't wish tough and hurt on anyone, the truth is we all will face it at times in our lives. It's what we do when we are amongst the painful rocks at the hard bottom of the valleys of life that matters.

Have you hit bottom, had a wake-up call or a come-to-Jesus moment in some area of life? How did you recognize it? What did you learn to help you better recognize your need for change and move forward in the future?

Related Reading:

Barbara at Recovery Happens: Hitting Bottom

Dad and Mom at An Addict in our Son's Bedroom: Hitting Bottom???

I propose a different term for this event or series of events that causes an addict to wake up to the fact that addiction cannot be a part of their life, this moment in time or life is when a person has a “profound experience”. A “profound experience” is something that anyone in any situation can experience. Large or small this event or series of events has the impact to change a life. Following a "profound experience” a person is able to gain “profound knowledge” concerning their life and the impact this experience has on their future. With this knowledge a person or addict is able to put in place the things necessary to change their life.

Brad Klontz at Mind Over Money: Hitting Your Financial Bottom

We know better, but we just can't seem to stop. Sound familiar?

It does if you have ever struggled with a substance use disorder, overeating, or any other self-destructive behavior that gets out of control and leads to negative life consequences. Many of us reach a point where we know these behaviors are hurting us, but we just can't seem to stop. Human beings have an uncanny ability to use almost any substance or behavior to excess in an attempt to avoid uncomfortable feelings, and money is no exception.

Susan Cushman at Pen and Palette: Why Hitting Rock Bottom is Better Than Quicksand

So, I’m thankful that I hit a “bottom” of sorts recently—and for the wakeup call it was for me to restore balance—or maybe find it for the first time, in my drinking and eating habits. And all habits, really. Spending money unwisely. Talking too much or inappropriately. Unhealthy sexual behavior or thoughts. All “things” that God intended for good that we warp with our out-of-control passions.

Kerry Madden at A Good Blog is Hard To Find: Rock Bottom

But in that year of writing somebody else’s story and then the grief and distraction of trying to get paid, I realized I was losing my own voice. I had hit rock bottom. I still took care of the kids and lived my life with a very patient and loving husband, but I had let my stories go in the name of money, and what a paltry sum it was.

Danielle Laporte at White Hot Truth: take 'em up on the offer: saying yes to help (video)

Tom Volkar at Delightful Work: Big Life Lessons and Hitting Bottom

Linda Gromko, MD: Weight Loss May Require "Hitting Bottom"

I remember my own "hitting bottom" with obesity. Ten years ago, when I was nearly fifty pounds overweight, I tripped on a curb cut--falling with arms outstreached and landing on my knees. Nothing broke, thankfully. But the startling thing to me was that I was standing next to my tiny little Mother, then a mere eighty-two!

Had I landed on her, I would have broken her little body! It occurred to me then how mortified I would have been if I had to confess that my Mom had suffered a hip fracture because I crushed her!

Ms. Sarah at Sarah Is Slimming Down: A Wake Up Call

This week I had a huge wake up call. My Papa who I love and adore has given me a life scare. He has been over weight for as long as I can remember. He has always struggled.

Swampie at A1A South: My "Come to Jesus" Moment About Weight Loss

So, when my friend passed away, I had a closet of dresses suitable for the occasion that I cannot wear to work. The morning of the funeral, I got out a sedate gray dress to wear with my black wool blazer. I could barely get it on, let alone zip it. No problem. I had a navy blue dress that would be almost as good. The buttons would have buttoned up, no doubt, were it not for the 2″ gap between buttons on one side and buttonholes on the other. WTF? Oh, right. Christmas. Cookies, candies, pies, home-baked rolls, breads, etc. DAMN!

Work Her Way at Divine Caroline: Has Your Wake-Up Call Arrived?

A wake-up call is a resounding signal received that change is necessary in your life. Often we get this type of call when a crisis or deeply challenging situation has emerged.

BlogHer CE Maria Niles likes to change and grow at PopConsumer

BlogHer Contributing Editor PopConsumer Beyond Help

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