Have you noticed the inevitable cycle?
You’re feeling good; you’ve got this, you can handle this. By this, I mean Life in whatever shape or form it’s present to you at the moment.
You are self-confident and empowered. You feel like you’re flying.
And then BUM! All of a sudden, you hit a wall, and you’re out of your game.
Where did it come from?
What was that?
How do I get back on my happy train?
The wall might be a pandemic, a loss or betrayal of some kind (job, relative, friend), personal core values upgrade, a new family situation, change of seasons, a complicated relationship with a colleague, physical injury. It might even be something familiar that you thought you’d long ago solved (like your relationship with your parents), etc.
It might even be a ‘happy’ event – a job promotion coming with new responsibilities, expecting or the arrival of a new family member, a big anniversary, a long-standing dream coming true, etc. By the way, the breakdowns after such ‘happy’ events are even nastier – they come packaged as a beautiful gift and as you unwrap them, they explode in your face.
It doesn’t matter what it is – small or big – it manages to throw you off balance just when you feel invincible.
You are shocked at how suddenly you lose the ground under your feet. All you had under control suddenly overwhelms you.
You want to go back, and you resist the new reality. You find fault in yourself. If only you could have taken another road, if only you thought this through.
The truth is, you couldn’t have avoided it. It’s a Life Upgrade.
Not unlike the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly you don’t have a say in it. It’s the most natural and the most repeatable occurrence of your Life.
It takes you to a new level. It requires you to grow, it throws you in the deep(er) end of the pool, and doesn’t ask you if you can or want to swim.
It’s a breakdown
Your old Self (or your idea of Self) breaks down. You feel powerless to put the pieces together. You want to hide, you’re embarrassed about what has become out of you.
What follows is a period of agony, search, trial and error, some light in the tunnel, then again darkness. You don’t know how long it will continue.
You don’t know if you’d ever “go back on track” or feel good about yourself.
Until one day, mostly out of desperation than as a conscious decision you give up. You accept the situation. This is the turning moment. Something has shifted. By admitting and accepting the new reality you’re starting to grow out of it.
Now you see possibilities, you feel relief. Your old skin is shading away, your old perception of Self dropping, people or circumstances you’ve been holding on to losing their meaning and setting you free. You set them free too.
Although you felt you were stuck, you were moving, you were growing, expanding. You were on the ‘right’ way after all.
You’re amazed at your new Self, at the spaciousness, at your ability to live with what is, at your newly discovered power.
What an upgrade!
You’ve had a breakthrough!
You’ve broken through the old limitations only to find yourself in a new world. You can’t wait to explore it and try your new powers.
Just like the butterfly that just came out of the cocoon.
It’s a rebirth.
Until…. One day another breakdown. And another breakthrough. The cycle continues.
Breakdown – breakthrough. Breakdown – breakthrough.
What can you do about it?
As a sensible person you might wonder:
I’ve done so much work on myself.
I am so much better, aware, upgraded, _______ (fill in the blank).
Why breakdowns keep happening?
I don’t have an answer for you. I can only guess expansion of the Universe, evolution, Life’s weird sense of humor… It doesn’t really matter why. It is just so.
You can’t do much about it, except going through it with maximum (Self)-care and minimum resistance.
It is normal
Through the awareness of the breakdown/breakthrough cycle, you will know it’s not only normal, it’s happening to everyone.
Even to the “toughest” among us. Pssst …. the toughest of us get the toughest breakdowns.
Treat with care
When you find yourself breaking down, be gentle to yourself. Don’t magnify the pain by judging yourself, belittling yourself, shame, and guilt.
Literally, be gentle to yourself. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend who’s having a real hard time.
Take your time
Don’t rush it. It will only make it worse. You’ll put some unnecessary extra pressure on the process. Admit to yourself it’s out of your control. You have to slow down, be extra gentle, and be patient. Oh, how hard this is in reality! But believe me, slowing down is the only way to speed up.
It’s like a mourning process. An old (perceived) part of yourself has passed. Take the time to say goodbye and to grief.
Ask for help. Speak about it. If you don’t want to burden your friends or relatives, if this makes you extra vulnerable to share your vulnerability, find a trained professional – a psychologist, a coach, a mentor, a trusted ally.
A creative outlet might also help: write about it, draw something, make music, dance it out, sweat it out in the gym. Express it in some way.
Expressing it means you’ve come to the point to admit it. To accept it as a reality. You’re slowly dropping resistance, you’re entering into the reality of what is.
Admitting is already much more empowering than holding on to the good old times, good old Self, good old solutions/coping mechanisms that helped you before, etc.
Yes, you were good at being a caterpillar. You had mastered it. Yes, you were a productive, little, shiny caterpillar but you’re not it anymore.
The sooner you feel fully into how shitty it is, the sooner it will start to feel less shitty. Expressing it is a sure way to feel into it.
Now that you’ve expressed and admitted it, you’ve externalized it. You can look at the thing that makes you so uncomfortable.
Own it. See it. Integrate it. It’s yours. It’s not going anywhere. You can finally start working with it. Or begin to accept it, find your way with (not around!) it, or even better – accommodate for it.
It has been waiting all this time for you to recognize and embrace it. It has been knocking on your door many times and you’ve been either ignoring it, sending it away, or coming up with tricks to distract it.
Sending it away has worked for you. The discomfort was temporarily gone. But it comes back. It is louder and more disruptive every consecutive time it comes back.
All it wants is to be seen, to be acknowledged, and re-owned by you. Don’t send the poor guy away, please.
Invite it in. Make friends with it. Don’t judge it, don’t expect it (you) to be different. This or that, more productive, more confident, more getting-things-done, more normal, blah.
Only through this internal process of integration, you can face outwards and start “fixing”/amending/healing the outside world.
No matter how different it feels, and how out-of-the-blue it comes, it is the same old process. You’ve done it before. You can do it again.
Why am I sharing all this?
I am just coming out of a 2-months long breakdown. I’ve just started to see the light. It all makes sense again.
I’ve experienced the breakdown/breakthrough cycle over and over again many, many times. I’ve seen it happen in the people around me.
Although I don’t enjoy the breakdown particularly, I have come to realize it is needed and accept it. My biggest breakdowns have led to my biggest breakthroughs and my biggest growth spurts.
Although when I am in the midst of it, I feel powerless it helps to know that it’s a process, it will work on me and it will eventually go. Only to come again in a different shape and form.
The more I cooperate, the gentle the process will be on me.
As much as I write this to you, I write it for my Future Self, as a reminder that although the breakdown feels like death, it’s actually growth.
Now, go fly you, little butterfly! 🦋