“Breakdowns create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together.”—Unknown
You may think your life is over right now.
You want to hide or drown or fall into the ground. Slip away. Move to the forests far away and never to be seen again.
The tears have dried up because you’ve cried them all out of you.
You’re silent because you have no more to say.
And you’re experiencing a state of mindfulness NOT because you’ve become more mindful, but because you’re too numb to replay your thoughts in your mind.
You may be facing your life’s most horrific and tragic breakdown – your absolute worst point.
You f***d up at work and got fired.
You cheated and are now dealing with the breakup and impending divorce.
Your ex is trying to take your kids away from you.
You got caught in a business deal gone bad and are now facing a lawsuit.
The company you’ve poured your heart and soul into is going under and you can’t seem to stop the situation.
You lost all your money.
The love of your life dumped you. Your heart’s destroyed.
Your former business partner is suing you.
You can’t make the mortgage payment and might lose the house.
Your life savings has gone down the drain.
You got arrested and the local news is reporting all of your dirty laundry. You see yourself on television.
It’s over. Literally over.
There’s no hope. There’s no tomorrow. There are no better days ahead.
Why live another day?
I can’t say that I’ve been on your journey or know what you’re going through, but I’ve been in similar places in life.
Several times when I wanted to throw in the towel and felt that the tranquility of a coffin would surely beat the madness of the world I’m living in.
When I turned 17 and my entire immediate family left the country as I was finishing high school, I felt alone and abandoned. It wasn’t their fault, but I still felt like the world I had known no longer existed. A few months later I was in a new university and a new city where I didn’t know anyone. Add the stress of college and exams, plus the responsibilities of adulthood, and I was pretty much done.
It was one of the lowest points of my life.
Fast forward 10 years and I realized that what I had thought was my lowest point was anything but.
Divorce was 100 times worse. It shook my entire life to the core. It made me question my existence and wonder whether life was worth living at all.
The pain of breakup, my inability to deal with a traumatic change and the deep grief and sorrow that followed were too much to bear.
Yet I’m still here. And you’re still here.
And that’s why I feel like I need to tell you something. It’s not over. It’s never over.
You’re going to make it through this point in your life.
Your absolute worst point in life is not the end, but rather the beginning.
You’re going to survive this place and, let me tell you from personal experience, you’re going to come back stronger than ever.
When you’re down and out and feel like checking out, hold on.
Here are a few things to think about that will give you perspective on your situation:
1) The benefits of rock bottom – it can’t get any worse.
The best part about being at your life’s worst point is that it cannot, let me repeat, it cannot get any worse.
If you’re in the dumps, be happy in knowing that you cannot fall further back. You have no more back to go. Your money, finances, love, relationships may all seem in the pits. Can it get any worse?
If you’re going to jail (and as a criminal defense lawyer, I had clients who did), the only option left is to come back out. You can’t go to jail again. (Well, you can, but hopefully you won’t.)
Moving on from jails, what if the press smears you, or your former business partner sues you? Can it get worse?
Most likely, no.
Your reputation is at rock bottom. It can only improve.
You’re dealing with the stress and burnout of a lawsuit – it can only get better. A settlement or verdict will arrive soon and you can start over.
When you’re at your worst, take some satisfaction in knowing that it can’t get worse.
(P.S. – Don’t make things any worse by asking yourself, “How can this get worse?” !?!)
2) You’ve done it before.
I’m not saying that you’ve been here before.
You may not have encountered a situation this deadly, but you’ve confronted setbacks, heartaches and disappointments in your life.
You were in bad places, but you came through. You made it out. You survived.
You’ve met every challenge the past presented.
You came out of darkness. You woke up from failure. You found a way.
You got another job. Started another career. Built a new business.
You found the courage to love again.
You forgave and let go.
You’ve been there; you’ve done it. You have the experience to overcome.
It wasn’t the end of the world before and it’s not the end of the world now.
3) Pressure will bring out your “A” game.
No better time exists than now to find out what you’re really made of.
Like the woman in the YouTube video at the beginning of this article, who came back from falling down to WIN the race, you’re going to do the same thing in your life.
This face-punching circumstance you’re going through will help you seek the answers, find the tools and develop the inner strength you need.
You will take your game up a notch.
You will do things you couldn’t do before.
When you’re sitting in a sinking boat, you’ll find a way to swim, to get a life vest or to call for help.
Moments of survival push us to get more creative, resourceful and effective.
You’ll stop procrastinating and lamenting, and instead become active.
Your greatest life challenge is your greatest invitation to take action.
The climactic scene in this movie is awaiting its hero: you.
4) Setting yourself up for success.
You may have trouble seeing this now, but meeting your current challenge will bring out better things in you throughout the days ahead.
To become successful or achieve your dreams or live your greatest life, you must get through the challenge at hand.
You must pass the test that life has given you.
Stay strong in this moment and take one step a day toward improving the situation. Sometimes the situation is so dire, all you can do is change your perspective for that day.
Viktor Frankl did so while surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp. He got through his time there by believing that those worst days of his life would pass, that when he came out he would recount his experiences to help others and that he would spread the message about how a person can find meaning under any condition, any circumstance.
Frankl spent the rest of his life sharing his message though his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” through his writings and through his lectures.
A better day exists for you, too, and mastering today will help you prepare for that day when things are better.
The gift of struggle and surviving will one day positively affect your life.
Through the violent storms of losing a loved one or having your most prized things snatched away, you will realize how life has, in fact, handed you a gift.
Your challenging situation is only perfecting your mind, your heart and your perspective so that you can welcome better days with open arms. You’re preparing for a breakthrough in your life.
Life might be calling you toward a new line of work.
Life might be calling you to prepare for a new relationship.
Life might be preparing you for more responsibilities.
Life might be preparing you to share your story, write your book and be a guiding light to others in their places of struggle.
Your failures are setting you up for your success.
Your heartsong is setting you up for your greatest hit yet.
Your song does not end on a sad note.
5) Follow the light.
I’m not asking you to compare yourself to others. Instead, realize that others have flourished and succeeded from even worse places than where you currently sit.
Use their stories for inspiration.
Jim Carrey’s family was living out of a van as he drove around Canada performing standup comedy at clubs.
The singer Jewel was homeless and living out of her car before she wrote such hits as “Foolish Games” and “You Were Meant for Me.”
Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California twice. Yes, twice. The last time I went to USC, I noticed that the school had named a building after him. He’s also one of the school’s trustees.
As you know, publishers rejected Stephen King’s first book 30 times. And Michael Jordan’s high school basketball coach cut him from the team.
J.K. Rowling was an unemployed single mother on welfare benefits before she wrote the Harry Potter series.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s divorce was what led her on a journey around the world and resulted in her bestseller, “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Barack Obama grew up in a single-parent household. Bill Clinton lost elections in Arkansas before ever running for president. Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections.
These are the stories of famous people you hear about all the time. Look around in your own life. What do you find?
Stories of struggle and challenge.
How your grandfather started from nothing and built a name for himself.
How your great-grandparents fled the old country to find success in America.
How people you know made comebacks from childhood problems, poverty, diseases, business failures and divorces.
They did it. You can do it.
They didn’t know that success lay ahead of them. They just believed in themselves. They took one day at a time, one step at a time.
As you go through your life’s critical hours, you’ll discover that things turn around.
You may not realize it and you may not feel it, but I’m asking you to believe it.
I’m asking you to remain hopeful that a turnaround is close by.
As Desmond Tutu has said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
You just have to stay the course and go through your journey: rebuilding, strategizing and taking things step by step.
Take it one day at a time. Stay encouraged that better days are ahead.
Stay faithful for a better tomorrow.
“If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.”—Mahatma Gandhi.
Stay faithful that your situation will improve.
Stay positive and encouraged that your troubles will set with the sun and that your greatest days are about to rise.
The darkest hour, they say, is just before the dawn.
When pain, tears and the storms of life engulf you – that’s when you will see the way.
You will see that glimmer of hope.
You will see the shadows of possibilities and the promises of a new day.