Breakdowns and Breakthroughs

ImageToday, we focus on the topic of breakdowns and breakthroughs. Take a moment to consider your relationship to these two words.  Breakthroughs probably sound great.  We all want more of those, right?  Breakdowns, on the other hand, have a more negative connotation attached to them.  In general, when someone we know is having a breakdown, we treat is as a fairly severe incident.  We wish them well and hope that they make it through alright.

Breakdowns can be painful.  They put us in situations that we are often uncomfortable with, and might even force us to re-evaluate how we are living our lives.  In general, we take steps to avoid breakdowns occurring in our lives.  We develop strategies and practices that allow us to get through our days without being confronted with the things that are likely to lead to a breakdown.

I invite you to take on a new perspective.  First, realize that breakdowns are a source of power.  Having breakdowns is usually the result of being committed to something, and getting stuck on your journey towards fulfilling that commitment.  Second, all growth requires breaking things down and building something new.  Personal growth is the practice of removing old habits and developing new ones.  You cannot succeed in this path if you are unwilling to break down the old habits.  Doing so will, by definition, often lead to breakdowns.

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It is within these declared commitments that we experience our breakdown.  As an example, consider someone attempting to quit smoking.  The commitment is to quit, but in the process of fulfilling that commitment, there are breakdowns.  Maybe the person had a particularly stressful week, or perhaps they just couldn't continue to monitor their habit.  They slipped and forgot about their commitment.

Our default is to punish ourselves for that breakdown, or to see it as a wholly negative event.  "If only I hadn't done that, I would still be moving forward!".  Many people can even go as far as abandoning their commitment altogether: "Well, I screwed up... what's the point of continuing?"

I assert that our breakthroughs come out of our breakdowns.  Our breakdowns provide us with an opportunity to reassess and re-presence ourselves to what we are committed to.  Does our goal remain the same?  If so, what are the next steps that we need to take in order to continue toward that goal?  If our goal has changed, what are we still committed to? (A good coach will also be able to identify when you are changing as a way of letting yourself off the hook versus actually being committed to something different or new).

Either of these situations are great and provide a path forward.  It is only by being with those moments of breakdown that we can have a breakthrough.  If we spend our lives avoiding breakdown and doing everything possible to stay neat and tidy, we deny ourselves the opportunity for growth (recall this post, in a similar vein).

By giving ourselves permission to get messy, we not only open the doors to breakthrough, but also create a space where breakdowns are normalized and something to be celebrated.  For many of the people that I work with, a common theme is that failure is bad thing.  Instead of holding it that way, I encourage you to take the following stand:

Nothing fails like success

Practice taking on this stand for an entire day.  Whenever presented with a decision that you are unsure of, hold this stand out and choose accordingly.  Whenever you find yourself presenced to your mood and want to choose something different, choose from this place.  If nothing fails like success, what might I choose in this moment as my way of being?

Give yourself permission to get messy, and allow a space for breakdowns.  Remember that nothing fails like success, and nothing breaks down like a breakthrough.

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Some food for thought to leave you with: where are you avoiding breakdowns in your life?  What might be possible if you were to create a space for growth and let things get a little messier in those areas?  And lastly, don't keep it to yourself - get in touch with us and request a complimentary session (maybe this is one of the ways you're avoiding a breakdown).