From Breakdown to Breakthrough

How a Crisis Can Serve Us

As painful as a crisis is to go through, it might not be all bad. What can happen is that it can give you the  experience of going from a breakdown to a breakthrough. Not sure what that looks like. Actually, it’s a phenomenon that happens in nature all the time.

For instance, take the natural cycles of forests. Forest fires are natures way of clearing out and thinning out the dead underbrush which in the long run makes for a healthier forest.  In addition, the new growth of some species of trees can only take place when there is intense heat from a fire which causes seed pods to explode and germinate.   Nature provides any number of events that at the time create pain, destruction and chaos. And yet these are the necessary events of a balanced ecosystem to grow and expand.

So why would we be any different?

Some positive aspects to having a breakdown

As much as we try to avoid experiencing a personal crisis, whether it’s a health crisis, a financial setback, a relationship breakup or an identity crisis, sometimes they are unavoidable and maybe they just might be exactly what we need. Like a fire is good for the forest, could periodic breakdowns actually serve us and be beneficial to us in the long run?  Maybe underneath the ugly packaging there is a gift in there for us if we’re ready to unwrap it? Maybe there is a valuable lesson hidden in there for us to discover if we’re willing to dig? If you’re experiencing a breakdown of some kind let’s look at if from a more positive perspective.

First, breakdowns often force us to get very clear about our priorities. They show us what we value most. What hurts us most. What angers us most. How enlightening that information can be!  During these times we don’t have the energy for frivolous distractions. We’ve got acute pain to deal with or the need to attend to basic survival needs. Just getting out of bed, showering and eating can be difficult when you are going through a crisis. These are the times that force us to tend to those basic necessities, both inside and out.

Breakdowns also expose our weaknesses; they humble us and give us direction as to where we need to do more work. They strip us naked and reveal our true character. They provide the mirror for us to look at who we’ve become.  What we see may not be pretty. But it is at these times where we often make our crisis decisions that shape our lives in the future.

When you are in a situation where you feel vulnerable it shines a light on your ego which can be extremely uncomfortable at first but gives you such a relief when the crisis is over. Many of us play hide and seek with our ego and breakdowns are a way of pulling the mask away from our shadow side. There is nothing more humbling than an “ugly cry.” You know, the kind of cry you do only when you are alone because it is so intense, so painful and so ugly to watch. Tears are healing, literally. Tears have a molecular structure like no other bodily fluid. Maybe the saying, “crying it out” is not just a catch all phrase but more a description of watching the body heal itself.

Breakdowns interrupt patterns, whether it is patterns of behavior or thought or emotions. They disrupt the status quo. When basic priorities and needs are force to the forefront and revealed, it gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves and grow from the experience. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge and breakdowns often show us where where we’ve made a wrong turn. They give us our opportunities to correct our course.

Breakdowns also become the reason that people turn to God for comfort and guidance. When all else fails and you give up, you are forced to surrender and let go. There is nothing more freeing than that moment of realization where you can take your hands off the wheel and know at some level you’ll be ok. When you’ve hit rock bottom and you don’t feel it could get any worse letting go is very liberating. You’ve come face to face with your fear and guess what? You still exist. You confronted your personal demon and you’re still standing.

Getting to this point is not easy that is why many people have to have multiple breakdowns in their lives. Their resistance to giving up control is too strong. There is a twinge of a control freak somewhere in many of us and experiencing a crisis has a way of slapping that need for control out of us and forces us to turn to another kind of power, a higher power. For many it is the birthplace of faith. It can also be the instigator of forgiveness. For some it is only during the dark night of the soul when they can finally see the light of God and surrender to the experience and ask for forgiveness.

So, next time you are in a crisis situation or feel like your life is falling apart or you might be experiencing your own personal dark night of the soul, look at what you’re going through from the perspective of how it might be serving you. Stop white knuckling your way through the experience and let “it” go whatever “it” is for you. Stop. Breathe through your heart. Be still and quiet. Listen. And ask these two questions. Where’s the gift? Where’s the lesson? And then open your heart to hear the answers. And be ready. A breakthrough may not be far away.

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