Bottoming Out

Alcoholic and drug rehabilitation programs talk about the need for one to "bottom out" before any recovery can take place. What this means is the person needs to endure enough pain before he or she will take the necessary action to get better. Basically, until the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change, the status quo will persist. It is only after this reversal that behavior modification enables one to follow another path.

This principle applies to all aspects of life, not only alcohol and drug abuse. I was conversing last night with someone who battled excess weight all her life. She finally is at the point where she is willing to do something about it. Over the last month, she lost 10+ pounds and is approaching a weight she has not seen in 15 years.

Our conversation centered around the fact that our society is becoming too accepting of people's faults and downfalls. She felt that public embarrassment was not a good method of motivation. I, on the other hand, disagree. However, she said she felt the degradation over the years but figured what the f***, why change? This is the mindset of one who allows circumstances to win out.

My point here is not to argue the merits of public humiliation. Instead, I use this as an example of what it takes for each of us to bottom out. Everyone is different. What might crush one person is perfectly acceptable to another. However, we all need to realize that nothing will change until we reach that magical instance where we had enough. It only takes a split second where the mind says "no more" and the individual opts for new action.

I apply this idea to relationships also. People often tolerate things within their relationships because they are comfortable. Nevertheless, when one decides, firmly, that he or she will not accept something, that is when the change occurs. Often, this is something that the person needs to pursue him or herself. Focusing on improving oneself is usually the key to improving a relationship.

Yesterday, I wrote about quantifying where we are at and the actions we are taking. We can apply this same principle to the bottoming out process. If we are feeling some pain, and we know we need a lot of pain to motivate us to change, we need to magnify that level upward. Thus, if a situation causes us to feel pain at a level 5, we need to think up different ways to get that to an 8 or a 9. Perhaps something such as telling everyone where we screwed up and inflicting a bit of embarrassment is precisely what is needed. We need to take all action that will assist us in reaching that bottom if we are ever to change. The increasing of pain is at the core of this idea.

In conclusion, always monitor your level of pain. Most of us are taught to avoid pain. This concept I expressed here shows you the benefit of embracing it. Pain is what motivates. Use it to your advantage.
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