On Breakdowns and Breakthroughs
"The breakdown comes just before the breakthrough."
The breakdowns can come in any and all forms.
When circumstances are difficult and I don't see a way forward. When my body is aching and I feel maxed out at a subpar level. When my emotional heart feels raw and a reflex to distance. When I feel stuck in my work and uncreative. When I catch myself being impatient, shortsighted, and stir-crazy. When I see someone else suffering and do not know how to help. These are breakdowns. These are symptoms of resistance, be it conscious or subconscious. These are opportunities for reflection, discomfort, and learning from pain.
I don't always like breakdowns. I feel good when things feel good. When it seems like there are no issues and everything is "just working." If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But what do you do when it seems like everything is breaking down? Stay in the game, believing and working for the breakthrough.
Now let me clarify what I mean by "believing" and "working for." Believing for a breakthrough does not necessarily mean I have a concrete sense of what is next or how it should look. Sometimes it can be as simple as a sense of trust in the midst of no reason to be trusting and every reason to be cynical. It is holding space for what may be, if not what must be. By "working for the breakthrough," I mean staying in the process. If I am running and I feel the urge to quit, I keep running, even if I haven't figured out how yet. Sometimes we try to force things, we try to rush a larger process that we cannot see at work. We try to press "fast-forward" on our current life experiences, do more to be more, and this spinning of our wheels does not accelerate our progress. Determined steps, one after the other, even if it is not yet at our desired pace, this is the "working for" a breakthrough.
When breaking a board, one does not punch the board, the punch through the board. Our breakdowns are the moment when we are on the brink of deciding whether we can or can't and moving into the question of how. How can I? How will I? What is the next step? At the moment I want to quit, there is generally an opportunity to quiet myself and learn quite a bit.
I've heard this truism stated many times, and I say it myself because while it can sound cliche, holding space for the breakthrough allows for us to keep melting, keep opening, keep moving in the midst of what can be very real pain and suffering. We're all in the process, and our journey will have bumps and offer bruises. Each of these opportunities offers us opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve.
When the breakdowns occur--and they will--give space to what may be breaking through.