To the woman reading this with a restless soul and an aching heart
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I want you to know that sometimes you have to break down in order to break through.
R.H. Sin, poet
At some point in your life (maybe even now) you’ve experienced or are experiencing some form of breakdown.
Difficult times and feeling negative emotions are a non-negotiable part of the human experience.
No matter how big or how small – challenges are a part of everyday life, right?
Breakdowns take on many different forms:
- Relationships (Break up)
- Mental breakdowns
No matter what form your breakdown shows up in, here’s what you need to know:
Breakdown, breakthrough – two sides of the same coin…
Every breakdown has the seed potential for a breakthrough.
Breaking down means a turning point is on the horizon if you choose to accept it as a wake-up call.
Breakthroughs are the process of turning low points into 180-degree complementary opposite success stories.
Being in the middle of a sh*tstorm in your own life might not feel good or comfortable, but it for damn sure shapes and molds you so you can expand and grow and come out on the other side more resilient than before.
This is what breakthrough moments are all about.
There’s a whole field of study dedicated to studying nature’s ways in search of efficient solutions.
It’s called biomimicry.
Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.
– The Institute of Biomimicry
So what would happen if we applied this to the context of breakdowns?
What could we learn?
Here are three natural examples of the Breakdown > Breakthrough process at play:
1.) Have you ever observed the actual process of metamorphosis? It’s quite stunning to see how the caterpillar self-destructs inside the cocoon only to emerge as a renewed winged one who soars instead of crawls.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
2.) There comes a point when a seed begins to crack open, it becomes exposed, and new life, new form, and new fruits emerge from its sprouting.
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must first come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. For someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
– Cynthia Occelli, Writer & Author
3.) A black lifeless lump of coal is cut, set, and deep pressure polished into a beautiful sparkling gem that reflects the colors of light and sun.
If an uncut diamond could feel pain and reason like we do, it would regard the cutter, the setter, and the polisher as representatives of the very devil himself.
Yet look at the finished product of all these (to the diamond) strange, cruel beings after they have done their work!
Instead of being a mere pebble in appearance, ugly, insignificant, uncouth, it is now a thing of dazzling beauty.
Verily, could the diamond see itself now, it would be a proud stone indeed and it would be grateful for its transformation.
– Dr. John Demartini, researcher, teacher, & author
Though breakdowns and challenges are opportunities for growth, it’s really hard to trust in the process and believe this is so when you’re in the middle of it and feeling the pressure and weight of the moment.
Yes, a lot of what’s happening will feel overwhelming.
And yes, you’ll also feel like you can’t control how this all unfolds.
And maybe that is partly true, but…
What you can do, though, is set yourself up to win by learning how to effectively manage your energy before, during, and after the breakdown.
This will help increase your probability of breaking through to the other side and emerging from the hole stronger and more resilient.
This will also increase your mental and emotional well-being and your sense of self-esteem.
Here are 5 proven tips to help you cross over:
1. Go inward.
It’s easy to get swept up by the heightened energy of the external world during a breakdown.
It’s normal to look to the exterior for certainty during uncertain times.
And yet, the single most important thing you can do for yourself at that moment is to practice the yogic principle of pratyahara:
What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
When we practice pratyahara we are able to dial down the heightened and distracting noises and voices that can make our situation seem worse.
We can also begin to drop underneath the noise, to meet the deeper, wiser, more intuitive part of us that lives within.
2. Breathe deeply and intentionally.
Today, you’ll take between 17,280 – 23,040 breaths. (1)
Since breathing is something you do automatically, you probably don’t give it much thought.
And yet, something, as overlooked as your own breath, can be one of the most potent stress-busting assets you already have at your disposal.
Your breath can be your ally or your foe, depending on who’s in control – you or it.
When you’re in breakdown mode, who’s likely in control of your breathing?
Your stress response or you?
Breakdowns activate the brain’s stress centers.
When these stress centers are activated, other important higher brain centers that help us think clearly and see the bigger picture are shut off.
As stated in an article published in Scientific American:
“Neural circuits responsible for conscious self-control are highly vulnerable to even mild stress.
When they shut down, primal impulses go unchecked and mental paralysis sets in.” (2)
Luckily for us, taking control of our breath by engaging in deep, intentional belly breathing is just the thing to soothe those stress centers so the higher-thinking centers can come back online. (3)
You need all the brain power you can get if you’re going to break through… and your breath can help you get there more efficiently.
3. Be soothed by Mother Nature.
Because breakdowns are so draining and tiring, you really want to give yourself as much nurturing and soothing as you can in the midst of the chaos.
Instead of turning to wine, sugary or processed food, or recreational drugs, try turning to Mother Nature.
Multiple studies report and confirm the beneficial effects of just 30 minutes of forest bathing. (4)
It turns out mindfully communing in nature and with trees helps relieve stress, turn on the relaxation response, and even boosts immunity.
Forest bathing can help lower heart rate, blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones. (5)
4. Acknowledge what’s there.
Putting our feelings into words helps us heal better.
– Matthew Lieberman, UCLA professors & founder of social cognitive neuroscience
Instead of resisting or suppressing what you’re feeling during a breakdown or sh*tstorm, neuroscience suggests to actually try naming or labeling it.
If you’re feeling angry, scared, anxious… name it.
Try just stating: “Scared” or “Angry” or “Anxious.”
According to one UCLA brain scan study, the mere act of naming or labeling our emotions has the power to deactivate the brain’s amygdala, known as the emotional /stress center, while activating or vamping up our brain’s higher thinking centers. (6)
Pair this with some deep belly breathing, and you’ve started to hack your own physiology to have your mind work with you, not against you.
5. Ask yourself the right questions.
Asking yourself the right questions, and really taking the time to answer them honestly can help dramatically.
Take a moment to answer the following questions now, so you can gain the wisdom of hindsight and discover the hidden or overlooked gifts and gems of past breakdowns.
- Identify a time of major crisis in your life, a time you really felt cracked open.
- When was it? (Date/ year/ time)
- Where were you?
- What were you doing?
- What were the gifts, benefits, and fruits that sprouted from it? Look at both direct and indirect benefits, and think in terms of your various life areas: 1) physical 2) mental 3) familial 4) spiritual 5) vocational 6) social 7) financial
- When you look back at that time and fast forward to today, how are you different?
- How is your life different as a result of it?
- What specifically has improved as a result of this experience?
- What have you gained from going through this experience?
- What would you have lost if you hadn’t?
Answering these questions wholeheartedly and thoughtfully will also help you remember that present or future challenges hold the same potential benefits and gifts.
It will reinforce your belief and trust in the transformational process of life’s challenges and might even help you make peace with pivotal moments of your past.
Remember, inside this meltdown, sh*tstorm, or breakdown there is the potential for growth and expansion.
You can emerge on the other side stronger, more capable, and more confident than ever before.
Let me know how you get on with these tips!
Always love hearing from you 🙂