Bottoming Out

It is a basic tenet of life that one needs to bottom out completely before he or she can make any drastic, meaningful change in life.  Many will take exception to this idea but the facts far outweigh the opinions of the masses.  Most simply trudge through life hoping for things to change yet never reaching the point where it is bad enough to do something about.  In short, their life does not suck.  People who have crappy lives will have the willingness to alter their behavior.  Sadly, the majority of the people do not fit into this category.


People are driven by pain.  It is the easiest way to get individuals to respond.  While pleasure is a human motivator, people simply do more to avoid pain than they do to gain pleasure.  This is evident in every walk of life.  Those who do not change simply view the actions required to achieve that end as more painful than remaining the same.  That is why most experience the same thing year after year.

We all know the story of boiling a frog.  If you do not, I will relate it here.  When trying to boil a frog, the instinct is to put the water on the stove until it reaches the desired temperature and then put the frog in it.  Following this recipe will result in the frog jumping out of the water.  The reason is because the water is to drastic a change for it.  Therefore, the successful approach is to put the frog in the pot in cool water, set it on the stove, and let it boil.  The frog will literally sit there because the change in temperature is gradual.

I relate this story to point out the fact that most are like the frog.  We become accustomed to our pain.  Since it is not drastic and slapping us in the face, we grow comfortable with it.  That is why most continue along the same path.  There is no bottom because one does not realize he or she is going downhill.  The incline is so gradual that little is noticed.  Of course, if this person does look back after 30 or 40 years, then he or she notices what happened.  But, then it is often too late.

Therefore, we need to achieve a great deal of pain about the present situation if anything is going to change.  Being content with how things are never leads to advancement.  Yet most people find contentment in their misery.

Reaching A Bottom

Recovering addicts are well versed in the bottoming out process.  Many of the recovery programs talk about the need for someone to reach this point before he or she will take the action to change things.  While there are valid reasons for ceasing the addictive behavior long before, rarely does this occurs.  An alcoholic or drug addict is going to continue until there is nothing left.  Sadly, death is often the result.  The addiction is carried right to the end and a bottom never reached.  However, those who do overcome their addiction, in every instance, they will reach the point where they say "no more".

Have you reached this point?  Are you ready to make a change?  Remember, without it, no major change is likely to ensue.  As much as we like to think that people do things for virtuous reasons, the truth is we do them to avoid pain.  So, are you tired of living how you are?  Is the job too much?  Are you disgusted with how your body is shaped?  All of these questions emphasize pain.  If you can reach this point, then you might have the willingness to do something about it.  If not, keep sitting there like the frog.  Ultimately, you will be cooked.

Change is never an easy road to take.  It is more comfortable to leave things exactly how they are.  Fear is a common trait among people and fear of the unknown is at the top of the list.  Altering out behavior takes us from the known and instantly throws us into uncertainty.  When this happens, we are afraid.  The mind begins to conjure up numerous scenarios all of which reinforce this idea.  Walking through all of this is what successful people do.  However, only those with enough pain will keep going.  No matter what the pursuit, obstacles will arise.  The memory of the bottom helps to overcome these pitfalls when they arise.  Persistence is often nothing more than a desire not to go back.  The fear of experiencing that bottom is a healthy motivator.  But it only exists if one reaches it.

So I ask you, have you bottomed out?
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