Hitting rock bottom is the nadir of our lives—the point at which nothing can get any worse. Acknowledging that point is the first step towards building a brighter future for yourself. Here’s what to do when you’ve hit rock bottom.
Everyone has a breaking point.
Maybe you’ve lost your job. Perhaps a long-term relationship or marriage has finally given up the ghost. For some people, it’s simply when you find yourself disinterested in everything—even the things you once loved.
Whatever hitting rock bottom looks like for you, it usually isn’t pretty. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nowhere left to go.
In fact, if you’ve managed to find this page, you’ve already taken one of the most important steps you could take.
You’ve admitted that you need change.
Changes can be as severe as relocations and lifestyle changes to something as simple as a change in attitude. The only way we can change, however, is when we know there’s a problem.
We’ll be going over hitting rock bottom, knowing the signs, finding recovery, and ensuring that everything improves from here.
Hitting Rock Bottom: Definition
One of the most important ways to recover from rock bottom is to label it—for two very good reasons.
First of all, as we’ve mentioned, rock bottom has to be acknowledged for it to count.
Some people find themselves at this point quickly after a night of poor decision making. For others, rock bottom is only found after months and years of a slow downward spiral.
Regardless of how you’ve arrived at that point, don’t prideful and admit you’ve hit the nadir of your life. This is when the second reason comes into play.
Rock bottom, by definition, is the lowest point you can find yourself in. Which means, by definition, there is no getting worse from this point.
While logically, things can always be worse, we can’t afford to think in such terms at the moment.
Admit to yourself that this is the lowest point in your life.
By doing so, not only are you setting yourself up for the improvement to come—but you are taking agency by stating that you will not let anything put you in a worse position than where you are, right now.
Planning Your Escape
Now that we know we’re at rock bottom, it’s time to look at the walls and find the right method out of our lowest point.
Hitting rock bottom is a culmination of our physical, mental, and social status. We may have hit this point due to a lost job or becoming socially ostracized at some point.
Rock bottom can also mean our bodies are the most out of shape they’ve ever been, or that we’re suffering from a deep depression.
Planning your escape means knowing what you can take control over and figure out when to enlist others to help you along the way.
In social situations, we often have the agency to control where we stand and how we choose to perceive ourselves.
If we do not currently have such access to a current situation, we can plan for the future, save up, and change locations and situations alike.
In physical and mental situations, things get a little more nebulous. For example, those who find themselves overweight or dealing with certain additions might be able to take care of the issue either by themselves or with the support of a familial system.
However, with mental diseases, deep addictions, and certain body conditions, it’s not only unwise to rely solely on yourself—but dangerous.
Combat certain thoughts and feeling with medical supervision and discussing issues with a licensed therapist.
Enroll in rehabilitation courses or talk to your doctor about ways to kick additions to the curb. Do whatever you can to take control either yourself or vicariously through delegating to others.
Minimizing Stumbling Blocks
Once we’ve determined our rock bottom and our plan of attack for changing that situation, we need to figure out how we ended up here in the first place.
Generalized apathy often has a lot to do with these situations, but they’re not the only ways we end up here. Toxicity can come in many forms and result in many bad decisions.
Your environment may have caused your downfall due to negative voices or when abusive actions were taken against you. Easy access to medication or other forms of addiction can likewise remain a stumbling block in your life.
Before we’ve even begun to ascend from rock bottom, we need to plan our route. So much of that planning needs to involve the avoidance of pitfalls and other problematic people or actions.
That might mean minimizing or ending relationships with others that have caused you to stumble in the past. It may mean quitting your job or even leaving those you love due to abusive or other negative personality traits.
Taking control and limiting others from hurting you will not be easy—nor will it be quick. The roots of what caused you to end up in the position you were in run deep, and are not so easily severed.
Luckily, the further along you get in approaching your future success; the easier things will be. The hard part is simply going forth and doing so.
Building A Support System
Just because we’ve cut others from our lives or limited our access to things that once brought us joy does not mean we’re going to have to go after this alone.
Much like how we’ve identified negative influences on our lives, we’re going to need to determine and identify those who can have real and lasting change for us.
Talk to people in your life about your decision to turn things for the better, and ask for help and accountability as you do you.
If you’re shaking off addictions, perhaps ask them to help you avoid these pitfalls. Likewise, be candid about your mental state and don’t be afraid to admit when leaving rock bottom gets difficult or messy.
A solid support system is built from many sources and enforced by many tenants. Therefore, don’t rely on a single person to help you out of this situation.
From therapists and doctors to friends and family, chances are, there’s more than one person you can turn to help get out of your situation and start climbing.
Finally—after planning out your route, setting up your support system, minimizing stumbling blocks, and defining future success, there’s only one thing left to do.
Like we’ve mentioned, the most difficult part of hitting rock bottom is determining it. However, the most difficult part of leaving rock bottom is doing it.
We’re not going to promise you a lateral and lasting change in your life. There will be days where you’ll fall back down and be forced to begin at the start once again—when problems arise, other issues take precedence, and you fail to meet your long-term goals.
These are to be expected and are to be embraced as they manifest themselves in our lives. Continuing forward each day is the hard part. Once we’ve accepted that fact and never cease to work on ourselves, each day will get just a little bit easier.
If you’re looking for continued motivation after enacting your plan, take a moment to look back.
Consider keeping a journal or recording something for yourself in the future to watch. Perhaps you did this when you were at rock bottom—to help you see how far you’ve come.
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Climbing out of pits usually means we’ve got nothing to see but the rock in front of us.
Looking down allows us to see how far we’ve come to arrive where we are today.
If you choose to do so, be careful in discerning when gaining perspective is more beneficial than harmful.
In today’s world, it’s never been easier to compare yourself to others. Most have a running log of their lives online, and it can be all too easy to see where they are and feel horrid about where you find yourself today.
We need to take control of comparison and use it to our advantage. We need to look not to others, but to ourselves. By looking to own personal growth, we will see the change that’s taken place, and when we look to our future selves, we can see the person we aspire to become.
As you continue, be careful not to declare victory too early. Just like how rock bottom tends to sneak up on us over months or years, the apex of our lives can quickly arrive.
Celebrating personal victories is important to keep up your resolve, so do so periodically instead of stating that your journey is over.
From a certain perspective, it never will be. Whether or not that’s exciting or terrifying is completely up to your point of view.
Regardless, form your plan of attack and get started on your climb as soon as possible. If you put in the work, keep active with your support system, and keep at it every day, you might find yourself improving faster than you think.
Don’t stop asking yourself what can be better. Don’t stop looking for ways to improve.
Whatever you do—don’t stop climbing.
Netflix enthusiast, horrible speller, jiujitsu hobbyist, weekend drinker, and occasional poker player. Favorite quote is “[o]ut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”