And so when someone says to me, “Brendon, I’ve hit rock bottom,” my first impulse is to ask, “Have you really? What does that mean to you?”
There is no doubt that when people say they have hit bottom, they mean it. The phrase is incredibly personal. But sometimes the only way through our own truth is to look outside of ourselves for perspective. Most of what the bottom feels like is still a few dozen meters above someone else’s dilemmas or tragedies. Often the bottom is just the height of our self-doubt.
Related: 6 Tips for Overcoming Self-Doubt
We must be cautious of defining our life’s situation as “the bottom” or “the worst,” or acting as if we’re somehow forever hopeless. Once you believe you are at your worst point in life, it gets even harder to find the enduring drive it will take to swim back up. Perhaps you’re not as deep as you think, and if you stopped looking down and instead looked up, you might see some light breaking through. Maybe there’s another angle. Maybe someone has faced the very struggle you’re dealing with and survived—even thrived. Could it be you are not alone in the dark, that others would help if you reached out? Perhaps it’s true you have been sinking, but it’s also true that you still have sight of something to be thankful for, something to still grasp at in life, something deeper than your problems that says, “I still believe.”
Maybe this is optimistic. Like I said, if we feel we’re at the bottom then that’s our truth. But I simply suggest that’s not the truth that will empower you to rise above. The real truth is rarely, “I’m incapable or unlovable or doomed for the rest of my life.”
I’ve had the privilege of working with people who have faced impossible odds and terrible tragedies, the worst life could throw at them. And they still believed. Moms who lost children to cancer. Lovers who were cheated on. Entrepreneurs who risked it all and went bankrupt. Soldiers whose friends died in front of them. Good people who wanted to give up… at first.
Were these people at the bottom? Most of them didn’t think so. They refused to bucket themselves or their situation in the it’s-doomed-for-life column. They considered if they were at the bottom, and then realized they were barely midway through life. They said, “There’s always a new day. I can do something, even if today that only means taking a shower and keeping a good attitude.” They looked around and counted their blessings. They saw how others had it even worse than they did but still managed to smile, carry on and try. That stirred belief.
Never let the weight of life’s challenges sink all hope. You are stronger than you think, and the future holds good things for you.
Related: 13 Life Rules to Keep You Motivated
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.