Personal Growth

How to Turn a Breakdown into a Breakthrough

How to Turn a Breakdown into a Breakthrough
Daily life in today’s world can be crazy. Overwhelm and exhaustion are on the rise as endless to-do lists pile higher and higher with each passing day. Responsibilities pertaining to your career and family fall front and center, and can cause you to spin out of control and lose sight of the things that keep you grounded, focused, and balanced. Even though you’re holding things together by a thread, you may continue to suck it up and keep going until that doesn’t work anymore and eventually you pop.

In an ideal world, you create strategies for balancing out the energy and, let’s be honest, sometimes a legitimate breakdown is precisely what you need to break through to a new level of being, thinking, and doing. In fact, oftentimes your greatest gifts are revealed after you have fallen apart.

It’s no surprise that mental and emotional breakdowns are becoming a more common occurrence in today’s world, thanks to society’s glorification of busy-ness. Sadly, it’s become happy-hour mainstream to find yourself conversationally lamenting about how it’s near impossible to keep up with everything you have going on. You probably don’t enjoy being overwhelmed to the point of meltdown, or pushed beyond your limits until you come unglued—and yet you may continue to live your life in a way that perpetuates the very thing that’s bogging you down.

In the moment, it’s obvious you need to get a handle on things before you go boom. All too often that realization may not be enough motivation for you to do anything about it. Unfortunately, you may wait until the pressure of the outer world becomes so heavy it causes an internal explosion, and you go supernova. Cool as the metaphor may sound, that’s not an ideal circumstance, by any means. How is it that you manage to lose yourself so entirely even though the writing is on the wall?

Setting Boundaries

You may find yourself facing a mental or emotional breakdown when you are overwrought with stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression. In many cases, the stress is caused by a failure to enforce your boundaries on some level. If you trace back every time in the past when you have lost your marbles, it was likely due to an over-accumulation of imbalanced energy in one or more areas of your life—career, relationship, health, or family. Learning how to set and enforce boundaries in your personal and professional relationships is paramount for maintaining a life of balance and harmony. What you may not realize, however, is that the biggest perpetrator of boundary violations is often the person looking back at you in the mirror.

Have you ever been in a situation that you knew wasn’t working out in your favor—working too many hours, giving too much of yourself without getting anything in return, and putting others ahead of you until you crashed and burned? You might see these as examples of how other people take advantage of you, but if you look closer, it’s an opportunity to see that these are all examples of how you run over your own boundaries every day. By recognizing what your boundaries are and honoring them yourself first, you stand a much better chance of enforcing your boundaries with others and maintaining your equilibrium.

Phoenix Rising

The universe is always seeking balance. What happens when you’re moving too fast in life is that you develop a belief that everything has to be done now. This belief perpetuates the forward motion and you may tell yourself that you have to be more successful, need to get more done, and have to strive to have more recognition. And, you also know that chasing that dragon eventually leads to a crash and burn.

You probably have certain images that come to mind when you think about what it means to have a breakdown. Either you’ve experienced it personally or you’ve watched someone else go through it—maybe both. Whichever side of the situation you’ve been on, it’s safe to assume that you are not eager to find yourself in a heap on the bathroom floor and having to piece yourself back together again. That being said, sometimes a good, old-fashioned meltdown is exactly what you need to clear the air and motivate you to take a right turn.

We’ve all had our meltdown moments in life—some of us more than others, in different contexts and to varying degrees. As difficult and challenging as those times have been, the chances are that you learned something valuable in the unfolding of your experience—something that would enable you to evolve into higher levels of thinking, being, and doing. At the very least, you probably learned what not to do in the future.

Consider the Egyptian myth of the Phoenix, and the concept of ‘Phoenix Rising’ in this context. The phoenix was a mythological bird said to obtain new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Taken as a metaphor, your own personal and professional breakdowns can lead you to your own rebirth, providing you are willing to look for the gifts, lessons, and wisdom acquired through the process.

In many ways, you wouldn’t become the person you are today had you not had the experiences you have had—good, bad, and everything in between. The truth is, every time you break down, you are also breaking through. Of course, the aim isn’t to go looking for trouble and purposely cause your personal implosion. The point, rather, is to glean the wisdom from your experience when it does happen.

Breakdown Reflection

As you look back and recall the times in your life where you lost it and broke down, see if you can identify what lesson, gift, or wisdom was made available to you as a result of your experience.

  1. What was the overall pattern you were running at the time that led to the build-up of energy?
  2. What were you ignoring at that time that, had you paid closer attention to, and taken action to resolve, would have enabled you to bring your life back into harmony?
  3. How were you able to rise up and become stronger in your resolve once you took the time to rebuild? In other words, what did you learn about yourself and the experience?
Like the phoenix rising, every one of us hits a breaking point in life—sometimes repeatedly. There are so many layers that make up the fabric of who you are and how you operate. Regardless of whether you’re having a full-on mental breakdown or you feel as if life is starting to spin out of control, the experience can be a tremendous opportunity for growth and learning. As you find yourself crumbling in the midst of the chaos and storm of your life, bring to mind the concept of the phoenix burning itself out and then rising back up again from the ash to create something bigger, better, and more empowered.

Your overall aim can be to use mindfulness-based practices like meditation, gratitude, exercise, and restful sleep to help you better navigate the busy-ness of day-to-day living. Having a daily practice that encompasses the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical bodies can help you avoid unnecessary breakdowns. That being said, some of the most difficult times in your life—those times when you may have completely lost it—were the catalyst for your biggest “Ah-Ha!” moments. It was through the very experience of falling down that you were pushed into a new way of being and new ways of doing in your life.