If Brené Brown and Tim Ferriss got together and had a lovechild, this would be it.
I’m a therapist. I spent the first five years of my career in an addiction treatment setting. I saw rock bottom in the seat across from mine every day.
The thing is: rock bottom is often not just a place we visit.
We tend to settle in or circle back frequently. Trauma can rewire the brain, leading to long-term difficulties, to put it nicely. This category of hell includes depression, anxiety, apathy, and self-medication, among other not-at-all-fun coping responses.
However, neuroplasticity research demonstrates what we inherently knew all along: our brains can heal and we can take an active role in repairing the damage, and potentially in preventing damage in the first place.
After a traumatic experience, why is it that some of us suffer for many years, while others bounce back, often times to a happier, more fulfilling existence?
Resiliency is simply the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or significant stress. It’s the key to bouncing back.
Resiliency can be learned and developed in anyone.
Research has drilled into this question and come up with certain “factors” that are correlated with the bounce back:
- Supportive relationships
- Positive role models
- Positive view of self
- Confidence in your strengths and abilities
- Capacity to make plans and carry them out
So…when I hit my great rock bottom of 2015, I turned my therapist pad on myself.
I’m a life hacker by nature, so I decided to take a radical approach to “treating” my predicament.
Specifically, I immersed myself in experiences that fell into one or more categories:
The Rockstar Comeback Roadmap:
- Try something new
- Get outside into nature
- Push past your limits
Try Something New
I had never had an inkling to go scuba diving before I got certified ahead of my Puerto Rico trip. In fact, I’d never thought about going to Puerto Rico either. The same goes for my flight lesson.
This is first on the list for a reason. These experiences pull you out of your comfort zone and open you up to new, diverse perspectives on life, yourself, and your challenges.
Did you enjoy your new experience? Push your limits by sticking with it until you develop competence. Double whammy.
Get Outside Into Nature
Nature, even just some fresh air and sunshine, do wonders for our psyche.
When you’re in the thick of it, a solo walk around the block with the sun and a breeze on your face can immediately bring your heart rate down, relax the mind, and result in perspective and new approaches.
But, I’m gonna challenge you to go further. Get into real nature. Go on a hike. Drive up to a lake and sit on the dock. Go camping.
John Muir captures it best: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
Push Past Your Limits
Yes, you want to create discomfort. Even in face of so much pain.
Each and every time we push ourselves past that line that marks the edge of our comfort zone, and reach deep for the will to finish whatever it is we started, we create resiliency. In spades.
We learn that we’re made of something stronger than we thought we were. We are inherently limited only by our own beliefs. Push the comfort zone out wider and wider and your beliefs about yourself are literally forced to adjust.
Because you are rockstar.
Step 1. Start Your Rockstar Comeback List!
There’s no better way to get started than to set your intention to paper. Get inspiration from the blog, from Instagram tagged photos, or from the Facebook group.
Be sure to STRETCH BIG, but be realistic – select just ONE low-hanging fruit that you can act on RIGHT AWAY and make it happen.
Then, start adding a few new adventures to your list that you can commit to in the next few weeks.
Post your list on your bathroom mirror or fridge so you see it every morning and night.
Cross them off. Bask in the glory. Be unstoppable.
Step 2. Share Your List!
Sharing your intentions results in a social contract with people who support you. That contract has inherent accountability to follow-through, which is critical in the beginning.
Share it with a trusted, positive friend, particularly someone who you look up to. If you’re really committed, share it with our community in the private Facebook group or be brave and share it with everyone on Instagram with #RockstarComeback.
Since you’re going to be taking awesome pictures of your exploits, Instagram is a fun place to journal your new story.
Step 3. Make one experience on your list a reality RIGHT AWAY.
This isn’t a someday list. It’s a reclaim my mojo with an epic comeback tour list. It’s an everyone on Facebook be jealous because I’m kicking ass list. It’s a worry your mom because you’re jumping out of airplanes list.
Go on an overnight road trip this weekend. Book a hot air balloon ride today. Start that book right now.
All of us have to face down rock bottom at some point.
Whether you are facing a horrific situation right now, still suffering long after, or just lost yourself in the process of living and breathing everyday, there is simply too much at stake in your life to stick around rock bottom for long.
Your life, your kids, your family need you and your brilliant rockstar self. You need you.
The top 10 recommendations from the APA to build resiliency include:
- Move toward your goals.
- Take decisive actions.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
- Nurture a positive view of yourself.
- Make connections.
- Keep things in perspective.
- Take care of yourself.
These are proven behaviors and factors that can lead to bouncing back to an even more fulfilling and happy life.
So why not? It’s going to be a fun experiment no matter what.
We can choose to break down, or break through, transforming a nightmare into a life we never even dreamed of – without years of therapy, antidepressants, or multiple cats.