Thoughts on Rock Bottom
Throughout the holidays and into the new year, our team has heard from many clients saying they are at “rock bottom” with COVID. This put us to work…what do we need to hear right now? Today, hear from our Director of Intern Program and Therapist, Tina Goode, LPC-MHSP, NCC, DARTT, CET I, on her thoughts around this subject and a few tips on finding new levels of joy.
I first learned of “rock bottom” as my family was in the midst of battling with disease of addiction. You see, I am the mother of a person who is now in long-term recovery. Anytime the disease of addiction is present within a family, everyone is impacted. My behaviors as a mother in fear for my adult child’s life a decade as the disease raged, led me to my own place of healing, but only after hitting my own rock bottom.
For me, rock bottom is the place we have to get to in order to seek change. It is the space where we finally sink deep enough, to once again hit solid ground and propel ourselves upward. Much like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool, finding the bottom and then having the footing necessary to resurface from the depths. The depth of our challenge can become the catalyst to propelling us to find new levels of joy, if we are willing to let go of our expectations of “how life should be.”
I think that rock bottom also is the place where we begin to break though the denial of what is, the denial of what has been lost and the denial of life being as it once was. This is the new space of acceptance. As Joseph Campbell writes: “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
We have a choice on the perspective with which we view circumstances. The circumstances do not change, however we change depending on how we choose to view a situation. We become stuck in the realm of self-pity, when we feel that we are entitled to a different or carefree life. By feeling our true emotions and sharing those in the safety of a therapeutic setting or with safe community, we can accept and process through the grief and pain. The grief and pain are real and must be acknowledged if we are to move through them.
Sadness tells us we have lost something of value which leads us to acceptance. Grief and gratitude are inextricably woven, for we cannot grieve if we have never experienced the goodness of a moment. As we express the sadness and pain, we begin to find the gratitude for what was and the hope for what may still be. A practice of gratitude daily is invaluable to changing perspective. I am not taking about stating simply “I am grateful for my health, my house, etc,” but rather looking deeply for the little unexpected gifts daily…a delicious meal, a hot cup of coffee sweetened just so, a kind word or unexpected smile. By truly taking note and writing down 3 moments of gratitude daily, we begin to rewire our brains allowing neuroplasticity to begin shifting our perspective on any given situation. Gradually, over time as we continue this practice, we often to come to find that even in the moments of darkness and challenge, our perspective has shifted to allow us to see the glimmer of light that is simultaneously shining.