Photo Credit: Paco S,
Photo Credit: Paco S,

Rock bottom’s pretty much what it sounds like. We use it to describe someone at their lowest point; a situation where things couldn’t get any worse. When we speak about someone else hitting rock bottom, it’s usually in a tone mixed with both sympathy and pity. We think, “poor thing, I hear they’re going to rehab.” What we fail to acknowledge is that a rock bottom moment’s usually the best catalyst for change.

I think I must be the only person who thinks rock bottom’s a good thing.

When you hear about former addicts talking about their road to recovery, they can usually pinpoint the exact moment where they began to change their behaviors. Whether it be waking up in an alley or being moments away from selling their body for drugs, there’s usually one event that let them know this behavior’s no longer physically sustainable.

The mind’s designed to survive, not thrive.

As long as a behavior’s not acutely threatening, the human mind will allow itself to continue it in perpetuity. No matter how terrible the status quo, we as humans can accept the rhythm and routine we’ve built for ourselves. As long as we can survive, we can exist in the haze of unhealthy behaviors and unhappiness forever. Usually it takes something to jar us in order to gain some sense of clarity.

The beauty of hitting rock bottom is that it gives us the lucidity of an observer watching ourselves. We’re able to see ourselves independent of the mist we’ve been living in. This separation lets us realize that we can’t sustain life in the way we’ve been living. As if it were a physical impact, hitting rock bottom allows us to remove the lenses we’ve been seeing the world in. Those lenses have, up until this point, convinced us that we’re “fine;” Or even if we could admit we weren’t “fine,” they allow us to think changing wasn’t an urgent necessity.

Rock bottom taps into our lizard brains and shifts us into survival mode. Not only do we realize that we can’t continue living this way, we realize that we must change right now. Rock bottom acts as an epiphany and a call to action all in the same moment. I’m still trying to figure out why people see it as a bad thing.

Unfortunately, not enough people are blessed with a rock bottom experience.

They’ll live in the status quo, not fulfilled but also not in danger. For those who’s status quos will not result in physical danger, there needs to be a shift in mindset to create a superficial rock bottom.

A drug addict can wake up in the hospital after an overdose and realize that their status quo will kill them. Someone who stays in a job they’re miserable in because they feel like they “should” will never wake up in a hospital. This is where we need a shift to create the same, rock bottom, life or death experience to create an impetus for action. That job will kill that person, as sure as a needle, but even worse it’ll take far longer to do its nasty work.

Take a look at the areas of your life in which you feel unhappy, but have accepted and put on autopilot.

If you shifted to believe these things were killing you, how would that affect your willingness to tolerate them?