How To Fail Forward: 5 Reasons Why Hitting Rock Bottom Rocks!
This post on how to fail was one I really didn't want to write. It'd been brewing for awhile, but I was, quite honestly, afraid of this level of transparency. Why on earth would I want to become synonymous with failing?! And yet, that old adage, write what you know, kept haunting me, until I finally sat down and began to chip away at this entry on how to fail forward. I know what it's like to reach the point when things are so bad that you're contemplating just staying down for the count, wondering if you have the strength to life a pinky, let alone pick yourself up off the floor.
Just after Thanksgiving 2014, the life I was living ceased to exist. One minute everything was proceeding normally; the next, my entire conception of the world was obliterated. Reflecting back, I knew something had to give. My husband and I had been miserable for years leading up to that pivotal moment. We kept waiting for the lifestyle we'd signed up for, the one everyone had been pushing us to embrace, to make us happy. Instead, it was slowly killing us. The house we were renting was too big, bloated, and expensive for us to maintain a proper savings. As we felt more and more pressure to conform and acquire All The Shiny New Things, our bills were steadily increasing, as our mental and emotional states declined. Strained, dysfunctional family relationships transformed major holidays into dreadful nightmares, rather than festive celebrations. We were rapidly reaching our breaking point, repeatedly asking ourselves, "Is this it? This can't be all there is."
By the time my husband came to me and shared his shocking realizations on that fateful November morning, we were primed and ready to receive the message and ACT on its ramifications. We fully surrendered ourselves to God and allowed Him to close this agonizing chapter for good. There was, in fact, a new and fulfilling life waiting for us, but we had to completely fail and walk (or, more honestly, crawl) through hell to get there. Hitting rock bottom was the most terrifying experience I've ever had. It also saved my life and the lives of the people I loved the most.
The following list reflects the incredibly important, often painful lessons I've learned during the last nine months. On more than one occasion, I reached the end of myself, but by the grace of God, found a way to keep inching forward. The opportunity to be surprised by what I'm capable of has been such a precious gift! What I've come to know is that each of us has a hidden reservoir of resilience, courage, and inner strength, but the only way to access it is through adversity. For me, one of the most profound personal discoveries came as a result of this difficult time: I found my purpose.
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5 Reasons Why Hitting Rock Bottom Rocks!
1. Nowhere To Go But Up!
There's an odd sense of stability at the bottom, knowing you can plummet no further. In a sense, the hardest part, the actual fall, is over. Now, you're able to look around and take in the reality of your situation without pretense or illusion. People say they want truth and honesty, but when it comes right down to it, most of us opt for comfort. (I know I did!) The function of comfort, though, is rest, not growth. Regular bouts of relaxation are vital, but we weren't meant to linger in that frame of mind indefinitely. At some point, we've got to rebalance the scales, get back into the fray, and live.
2. You Can Take Off The Mask
As a result of this earth-shattering experience, you'll find yourself highly allergic to all things petty and ridiculous because you've seen too much and you've suddenly got no time to waste on the small things. You'll be much more observant and maybe even a bit guarded. I used to let anyone occupy a place in my heart, but now I know everyone isn't worthy. It doesn't matter if we went to school or church together, or even if we were raised together; if you repeatedly hurt me, you have no place in my life. A shared past does not equal automatic allegiance.
3. The Friendship Clearance
If you've ever lamented having too many friends, going through a personal crisis should clear that problem right up! I joke, but this is one of the most painful aspects of hitting rock bottom: people you love will fail you. Some will fall away because they simply don't know how to support a friend in crisis. Others will blame you for being a reminder that bad things happen to good people. You may even encounter a few who were never really friends to begin with, folks who are none-too-happy to witness your downfall. In my case, I found the silence and isolation from those who previously claimed to love me to be the most agonizing. It's been almost a year, but that sting of betrayal still smarts. Looking back, though, they had been showing me who they really were, but it took a crisis, a test, for me to see. That purge was a blessing because they never deserved to be in life to begin with, let alone be a part of this new season.
Related: 5 Ways To Support A Friend In Crisis
The best news, however, is that your real pals will rise to the occasion to support in any way they can and the bonds you form will bring you closer than ever. My girlfriends truly became family during this time. I tend to retract into myself and it's hard for me to reach out for help because I feel like I'm being a burden. These women, however, wouldn't let me do that and insisted on coming over to the house, feeding me, praying for me, laughing with me, and encouraging me. They truly acted as God's hands and feet, and were integral to my well-being.
You will emerge from this horrible situation better, more compassionate, wiser, and stronger than you've ever imagined. With nothing to lose, you're free to take risks. As a result, you'll be cultivating inner strength, fearlessness, self-respect, and self-reliance. Facing rock bottom is terrifying, but once you do it, there is acceptance and relief. You begin the process of deciding what you can do to climb upward and continue onward. With a newfound clarity and focus, what is truly important to you will become apparent. Now is the time to ask yourself this question: Will this failure define or refine me? How badly do I want my dreams and what am I willing to do to make them a reality?
5. Opportunity to Change Your Life
Rock bottom is the ultimate do-over, the signal to adjust your sails and head in the right direction. Acknowledge the priceless gift wrapped in this struggle. Chances are, there's at least one dream or idea you've never acted on because you were afraid or it didn't make sense or the timing was off or... Well, why not revisit that idea now? For example, after years of hand-wringing about starting over in a new city, my husband and I created and implemented a move from Phoenix to Denver in a matter of months. Why? We were no longer afraid to take control of our lives. Suddenly, we were fearless, and instead of looking for excuses, we found solutions.
Still not convinced? Watch this video, 5 Steps To Find Your Purpose In Life, then subscribe to the Living My Someday YouTube Channel for more valuable content!
I can't tell you this journey will be without pain; in fact, I can guarantee it will be downright grueling at times. However, I can promise you it will be worth the effort.