5 Things Most People Don’t do with Their Breakdowns

5 Things Most People Don’t do with Their Breakdowns

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.

Final Thoughts

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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A Child Sized Dream

A Child Sized Dream

What is the size of your dream?

Is it adult sized or child sized?

An adult sized dream is often one of limitation. A faint outline of a former, more exciting, limitless life. Rather than being a dream erected on childlike faith, it’s a dream built on the shaky foundations of constraints felt, challenges faced, obstacles crossed, a lifetime of being told “no,” being rejected, failing despite successful behavior, painful partings and let’s face it – imagined impediments like bad weather, wrong timing, horrible luck, God punishing you, and an elitist conspiracy to poison your health and keep you in perpetual financial debt.

An adult sized dream only becomes more reasonable, more logical, more rational with time. If you were to imagine a perfect circle, and the circle represented the size of your dream, this circle has only shrunk over time, and increasingly, your world has narrowed to the point where your dream has become about you and you alone – not about your significant other, your children, your family, your best friends, or all your adoring followers, fans, clients, customers, or audience you were once eager to – and meant to – serve and impact.

All this happens without you even noticing.

An adult sized dream, unfortunately, doesn’t hold much of a charge. Sure, it means something to us, and we still want it desperately, or at least pretend we do just to keep up appearances, but based on 1,000 yesterdays, it doesn’t even seem like a remote possibility anymore.

You’ve been crushed, deserted, betrayed, ignored, avoided, discarded, and finally, you’ve come to the point of accepting your “lot” in life.

You still have the occasional glimpse into what once was your North Star, but now it only seems to evoke a sense of guilt, shame, pain, disdain, and most frighteningly, apathy. You’ve stopped caring that you’re not living the life you once set out to live, and unfortunately, you have no one to hold responsible but yourself. You can cry at the universe, but the universe will only give you challenges to overcome on the path to self-betterment.

The adult sized dream is also exhausting. It’s complicated, difficult, intricate, confusing, frustrating. In a past life, there was all but a direct path stretching out between where you were and where you wanted to be. Now it’s become a near endless and impossible set of requirements, prerequisites, conditions, boxes that must be ticked, and hoops that must be jumped for you to enjoy the degree of success you once assumed without question.

There’s no fun in a dream like that. No point in pursuing it. No motivation to do it. No reason to rise early and give your best every day. Just a sad, desperate, quiet longing for what could have been but what you now presuppose can never be.

The adult sized dream will always see you playing small. You will always remain in the boundaries of what you consider safe, proper, right, and acceptable, and that noose will only grow tighter as you test the waters and find them too dangerous to dive into. You’ll avoid offending others, ruffling feathers, or rocking the boat like the plague.

The adult sized dream says you can only be one thing. You can be a successful business owner, but not a great spouse. A great musician, but not a star athlete. Rich but not famous. Smart but overweight. And that’s still on the innocuous side of limits. It’s entirely possible you’ve come to the point where you believe that a modest or minor success is all you can ever be.

You never thought that way as a child. None of those limitations were in play. You weren’t hindered by difficulties and challenges – you didn’t even focus on them. You knew that you could have anything you wanted if you just kept the finish line in view. You could have your luxury tower penthouse, your backyard pool with waterslide, regulation size basketball court, a garage full of Lamborghinis… whatever you could see in your mind’s eye.

As Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill said:

What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Where did your child sized dream go? Do you remember it? Do you remember how it felt to envision a future that exceeded your wildest expectations? What possibilities did you see for yourself?

Your child sized dream is still with you. It hasn’t gone anywhere. It might be covered with years of regret, doubt, and failure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dig it up, dust it off, and have another look. And maybe it doesn’t make sense to you anymore. Maybe you would make some changes to it. Maybe it’s too late for some dreams. That’s fine. But your child sized dream got more right than wrong. Because it speaks to the desires of your heart and the imprint of the divine. Your desires are uniquely yours, and you will forever care deeply about them. They are not all-inclusive. They are specific and personal.

You can live an either/or life or a both/and life. You can be led by your adult sized or child sized dream.

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