On bouncing back from rock bottom

Stop the madness

First of all, there’s no such thing as rock bottom. Everything could be worse. You may have no money, no job or income, lost someone you love, be in bad physical shape, crying under your bed-sheets, and even then, you could go outside for some sunshine and have a seagull drop a morning mud pie on your hair. On top of everything that is wrong in your life, now you also need to deal with your new all-natural hat. So step number one: stop trying to find your rock bottom.

We’ve all seen movies where the hero turns everything around after one of these “rock bottoms” moments. Our pattern recognition machine aka intellect, says, “mmh maybe I should have one of those moments, I’ll make things tragically worse and then I’ll have my comeback”. When you think about it, you are actually trying to help yourself. In your own twisted and demented way, by having a super depressive moment, you are preparing yourself for the good times. Bullshit.

Life is not a trampoline where the lower you go, the higher you jump later. Quite the contrary, things just get worse. Nothing will happen after you dig your ditch a little deeper, the sky won’t open itself and two butt-naked angels will not reveal some hidden knowledge that will change your life. The cavalry is not coming, you are the cavalry.

Truth is, bouncing back is about listening to yourself, well, maybe not you-you, but the little guy inside of you. He already knows everything you need to do. The problem is, he is a super chill & gentile dude who speaks in whispers while intellect and emotions are prone to shout on top of everyone else!

Dive into reality

You don’t need to get out of bed just yet (it wouldn’t hurt though), you can start this process in your own cavern. What is important though, is to do a reality check. Reality as in seeing things as they truly are, not better, not worse. Where are you physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, intellectually and materially wise? Are you carrying any damaging habits that you know are not good for you? Identify the mix of nasty little demons roaming inside of you.

Be honest, you are not fooling anyone.

Can you feel the sadness, fear & anxiety? Good, embrace it. Feeling this, means that you believe there is a version of yourself that has not materialized in all it's glory. The distance between your perceived potential and reality causes you pain. Don't look away from it, pain is here to help you, it's your compass that shows you where to move towards. The great news is you haven’t accepted your situation, if you had, you’d feel no anxiety, you’d be perfectly content where you are.

Baby steps

Reality can be hard to process, but don't worry, from now on you’ll treat yourself like a puppy, with lots of love and care. So chillax, don’t jump just yet on a 720-degree life-turning moment that will leave you dizzy, confused and back on the old rock bottom. Chances are your energy levels are crazy low, so take it easy, you are in no condition to face the challenges you are destined to face, not yet anyway. Just focus on having a better day than yesterday.

Think of yourself as a plant that is now crooked, sad & yellow. Obviously it needs water and sun, and It will probably take a few weeks or so to fully recover. You wouldn’t give all the water & light it needs to flourish in the coming weeks today, if you did, it would drown & dry at the same time! Do the same for yourself, aim at small daily systemic changes, not at grand gestures.

Little steps go a long way.

Ready... Set... Action!

Are you feeling with a bit more energy? How about you start by taking a shower? Perhaps feeling extra positive? Maybe dare to clean a room or respond to an email that you should have answered by now. Whatever you feel comfortable with, do that. Give yourself an extremely realizable goal for the day, and go to bed winning.

If you set your aspiration too high, your chances of succeeding decrease, and bouncing back from rock bottom is about winning today and believing you can win tomorrow.

You know yourself better than anyone else does. You are all too familiar with your short comings and flaws. Your brain keeps a record of every single time you’ve failed, and because you are smart, or you simply know how to connect the dots, you have come to believe you can’t trust yourself. Like with any other trust relationship that has failed to deliver over and over, you can’t expect someone smart like yourself to believe all of a sudden that you’ve changed. You need to walk the walk, not talk the talk. You’ll only get there by showing yourself that you are capable of showing up consistently for a period of time. Focus on the process not the outcome.

As an example, if you are completely out of shape, consider not joining the gym right away, but taking a walk every day, and in 2 to 4 weeks start going to the gym (or doing any other more intensive activity). Once you are there, ask for a plan that you are 120% sure you can follow through. It’s about showing up and giving yourself the data that corroborate the hypothesis that you can trust yourself, not how much you can lift.

Slowly and steadily you'll build a positive spiral to the sky.

Stick to your lane

Yup, someone somewhere is doing waaaay better than you. S/he is having sex with more attractive people, have more money, have a more loving family, their career is going in interesting directions, takes vacations in places you only dream of, have funnier friends, has beach body, and just to push you over the edge: plays the guitar and sings beautifully. By any objective measure, their life is better than yours.

So what? Does knowing they exist make you feel like shit? First of all, it’s not their actual existence, it’s your fantasies about them, their reality can be very different. Second, it's not the thought per-se that is harming you, it's your insistence on staying focused on them. You can choose what thoughts to engage with, you do this all the time, or do you obsess with every little idea that crosses your mind? No, you pick them, some are boring or useless, it’s like those infinite sushi bars, where you don't choose what comes your way, but can grab anything you like. You wouldn't go out of your way to punish yourself by grabing dishes you hate!

Just don’t engage too long thinking on other's success, put a spin on it, be happy for them and that’s it, move on. This will make you instantly closer to being happy, you know, by being happy. Be happy to be happy.

Similar to how the distance between your reality and your expectations causes you anxiety, the distance with others can be a great source of pain as well. This distance will never disappear, there will always be someone to be jealous of, but it can disappear from your focus. How? Focus on your own improvements & achievements and celebrate them as if you won the bronze in a 400m Olympic race. I literally opened a mini bottle of champagne and played "We are the champions" after cleaning my apartment on a particularly bad day. In time you’ll forget about others, and if you keep at it, before long, every once in a while when you peek outside, you’ll see some of them in the rear mirror.

Media diet

It’s common knowledge that if you are overweight you should eat healthier foods and in controlled portions. When your life is out of whack, you should similarly pay close attention to the ideas & philosophies that reach your mind through the media you consume.

You have enough terrible thoughts on your own, you don’t need the world's suffering on your shoulders on top of that, plus, what are you going to do about it if you can’t manage yourself? So stop watching the news, they have nothing to offer you but more anxiety and frustration. They are designed to activate your fear receptors and keep your focus captive so that companies can show you ads of products, making you even more miserable by creating unmet needs inside of you.

Follow empowering people, read empowering books, print awesome quotes, don’t be afraid of being as cheese as dipping a Camembert in fondue. Distance yourself from all media that puts you down. Trim your social media of all the negative energy. Cut some fat!

Choose your tv, movies, series and books from the farmers market, not the candy store.

Bad days will come

If you have applied some of the stuff above, you may be feeling all fine and dandy right now, but the pessimist inside of you knows something for a fact: you will stumble. That’s just how it is, that’s life, for everyone. There are good days and bad days, so don’t sweat it, you are not alone. The important thing is not to fall too deep. How? If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you know that in case of an emergency, air breathers will fall from the sky, you should put yours first, and then assist anyone around you that may need help. It’s a protocol they teach you so you don’t think about what to do at that moment, and just do what they know should be done.

Do that, make a plan! You’ve been there before, you know how it goes, sometimes it’s been better and sometimes worse. Identify the activities that were involved in both cases and create a bounce back checklist, that in case of an emergency you can always break the glass and stop the fire. Here’s mine:

  • Put on headphones with uplifting music
  • Do my bed
  • Water my plants
  • Take out the trash
  • Take a walk
  • Do some exercise
  • Take a cold shower

My logic is this, I start with a super low effort activity that has a high impact on the rest, like selecting a song. Then, I actually enjoy a little bit of air and sun while watering the plants for a few minutes. After that, I like to keep my place clean but I’m also profoundly lazy, so I do my bed (1 minute), collect dirty dishes, take the trash out, and just keep walking. After a random amount of time later, I do 5-20 minutes of Yoga or Weights and finally I take a cold shower that completely changes my neural pathways.

After doing all of that, which takes like 1 or 2 hours, I feel like I woke up into another day. You don’t need to like or agree with this list, create your own list of activities that produce the effect of resetting your mood. Plan for your bad moments when you are in your happy moments.

Now what?

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of everything you need to turn your life around, but it’s, if I might say so, a great start. Here are some other guides that will help you follow through:

  • Sorry, no more content yet, I'll update this as more guides are available.
  • Do have a great post and want it to be published here? Send me a DM on twitter @fceruti, and we'll talk!
  • You may try our software to organize your day.

Have a great day.

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