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We all have breakdowns. And depending on what our relationship to those breakdowns are, we can end up suffering over the long haul.
The truth is most of us were never taught how to deal with breakdowns. Generally, we’re just present to the fact that a) they happen, b) they can happen at any time, and c) they are to be avoided at all costs.
But we can all deal powerfully with breakdowns and even turn them into our greatest lessons and opportunities. Breakdowns can turn into breakthroughs.
Here are five things most people don’t do with breakdowns that can make all the difference.
1. Declare Them
Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. – Pearl Strachan Hurd
Breakdowns should be declared the moment we recognize we’re having them.
Most people don’t. This is typically what causes the resulting rut.
In an ideal world, how long would you sit with a problem? For a few minutes? Maybe a few seconds? But most people don’t believe that’s possible because they stay in their breakdowns for weeks, months, and years, don’t they?
The thing is you don’t need to remain in your breakdowns forever. Most people don’t recognize that they are in full control. They have all the power in their breakdowns. Yet they often want to marinate in the steaming pile of puke in the corner, blaming people and circumstances for their misfortune. And they can remain in that space for a lifetime.
A powerful person isn’t someone who never makes mistakes or doesn’t cause offense. It’s someone who understands that life is full of surprises, and anything could thwart their progress. So, they learn to declare their breakdowns instead of trying to fix, survive, or live with them. Because things will happen. They always do.
Breakdowns make for horrid companions. And you aren’t required to sit with them or to keep punishing yourself for whatever you feel you did wrong for all eternity. Leave judgement to God or the universe.
2. Brainstorm Solutions
Focus on the solution, not on the problem. – Jim Rohn
After a breakdown is declared, you shouldn’t just sit with it. The next step is to brainstorm possible solutions. And you want to move from declaration to brainstorming rapidly.
Chances are there is someone who has already faced exactly what you’re currently facing. It would prove challenging to dream up a circumstance someone hasn’t already overcome, save for something completely contrived (like “I’m stuck on a planet far away from earth and I don’t know how to get back!”).
If someone else has done it, you can too. Other people are not special. Celebrities, leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and everyone else you admire, or think is better than you have all persevered through seemingly awful situations.
And even “awful” situations are a matter of perspective. It’s your relationship to the situation that makes it so. And you can change your relationship to a person, circumstance, or event at any time. It’s up to you.
In brainstorming, you don’t need to try to come up with perfect solutions. No such thing exists. If we were honest with ourselves, we’d all be able to admit that most of our ideas suck. Case in point – none of my Medium posts were curated in the last year, and I’m almost done publishing daily for a full year.
If you suck, keep sucking and remain in action until you don’t suck anymore.
3. Get into Conversation
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer
When you have a breakdown, don’t just declare it, and don’t just brainstorm possible solutions.
The logical, powerful next step is to get into conversation. If you were to look, you would likely find that the best possible solutions are on the other end of conversations (often those you would deem “uncomfortable”).
We live unaware most days, but our language truly does create our world. When we say, “life sucks,” we begin looking earnestly for reasons why it sucks, and we always find them. Which should tell you just how powerful your mind is, and what could happen if you started creating your world, with language, as you would like it to be.
Leadership expert John Maxwell says even the shiest introvert will influence 10,000 people over the course of his or her lifetime. Which means this – no matter how disconnected you may feel, there are people in your life willing to be a resource, contribute to you, support you, and help you with your challenge.
So, get on the horn. Now. No texting or emails, unless it’s to set up a phone conversation or Zoom call.
4. Identify the Opportunity
Within every adversity is an equal or greater benefit. Within every problem is an opportunity. Even in the knocks of life, we can find great gifts. – Napoleon Hill
If Mr. Hill is right, and I would posit that he is, a breakdown is just a breakthrough in disguise.
The breakthrough may not be immediately forthcoming, but the seed of it is within the breakdown itself.
Search and you will find that there is something familiar about the breakdown. Chances are it’s not the first time you’ve faced a challenge like this. It may take some looking, but once you’ve identified what it is, and are clear about the constraint you’ve wound up with, you can begin hunting down opportunities.
Remember, you are the most powerful person in your world. Other people can help you find what old patterns you’re clinging to, and they might even be able to help you identify the opportunity, but you’re the only one who can act on the opportunity. Otherwise, there is no reward in it.
And the opportunity can often be found in conversation, which is something we’ve already covered.
Finding the opportunity is the first step to causing a real breakthrough.
5. Cause Completion
Success is completion. Success is being able to complete what we set out to do – each individual action, each specific step, each desired experience whether a big project or a very small errand. – Susan Collins
We all have “incompletes” in our lives.
To discover what those “incompletes” are, again, we need to be rigorous in self-examination.
If you keep talking about a breakup that happened 10 years ago, guess what? You’re not complete with it. You keep bringing it up so you can remain in the pain. Feel sorry for yourself. If you can’t say “amen,” say “ouch.”
No matter the breakdown, you can cause completion. You are that powerful. You can have a say in what you’re creating.
Stop allowing incompletes in your life. These continue to live on in conversation and all they do is hold you back from the life you desire.
How do you cause completion? Generally, it goes back to things I’ve already talked about 1) declaring it complete, 2) having a conversation for completion, 3) some combination thereof.
Breakdowns aren’t the enemy. They often lead to breakthroughs. That context is crucial when you feel as though your challenges are unfair, unjustified, impossible, or otherwise. Because you can begin to confront breakdowns with a sense of excitement, knowing that a breakthrough might be on the other side.
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