Four Practices To Get Out of Rock Bottom

This past week has been one of the most difficult of my life… I’ve searched for answers to my questions and there have been none – just that sometimes things happen and you can’t do anything about it. It’s the feeling of hitting rock bottom I suppose – where you feel like you’ve completely lost. As I searched online, I found something interesting. I’d really thought about giving up today – like what is the point of anything. This is a dark place to take the mind, so instead I searched online for guidance. I found the website of James Altucher while searching for some things that were pretty darn depressing. I want to share those with you now.

He wrote an article, How to be the luckiest guy on the planet. He’s also written about how he has hit rock bottom several times and has always been able to pull himself out of that rock bottom every time by following four simple practices. As I look at my own life right now, I’m not doing a great job following these four practices. In looking at them, it seems I must do them or die – literally. I can feel my body losing its energy and zest for life and having a stressful position at work and a family to take care of doesn’t make this a convenient thing to do. Finally, someone I care a great deal about is completely disconnected from me.

So what do you do then? What are the four practices that can take you out of the bottom? Because that’s where I feel I am today. You can read James’ article and he will tell you what they are. They are: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual. Daily practices in each of these areas seem to be a key to turning life around. What do these mean for me?

Physical

There is physical exercise that I know if I do regularly, I feel great. It’s doing Yoga, stretching, lifting weights, running, hiking, biking, and playing basketball. Right now, I’m not doing a great job at these – I play basketball a couple times a week and go running about once a week now. The weight training happens sporadically at best.

My sleep schedule is also a wreck. I’m back to waking up many times a night now with a dry mouth as I feel extraordinary stress and anxiety. James’ recommendation is to get to bed by 9:30 PM and up by 5:30 AM. This gives you a good 8 hours of rest and gives you the morning to take care of these four important life habits. Right now, I’m getting 4 to 5 hours of rest again at best…

To put it bluntly, I am dying fast right now. The only healthy thing I’m eating each day is my morning shake and sometimes a salad for lunch. Otherwise, I’m eating processed foods, ice cream bars, and sugary substances. It’s not a path that is going to lead to great things.

Fortunately, I believe I can fix this. If I can get up in the morning, stretch, do some Yoga, go for a run, lift some weights, do some pull-ups, I think I will start to reverse this trend. Then I can focus on healthier and whole foods, not the processed crap I’m eating, but instead, salads, vegetables, and whole grains.

Emotional

I’m a wreck emotionally right now. I have my reasons. When you feel connected with someone at a deep and spiritual level and they intentionally withdraw completely, it’s like a javelin being hurled at your stomach. But that’s not the only thing. I think the sapping of my energy is also making it hard for Heidi and our two kids. To top it off, I feel toxicity from some people close to me in my circles of relationships.

James’ recommendation here is to always be honest, to cut people out of your life who are draining you, and to bring people closer who are supporting you. I believe I can do this. I know very clearly who those people are that have been supportive to me and those who are toxic. It pains me to do it, but I know what I have to do to bring the emotional into balance – and that is not be around certain people in my life and to spend more time with the supportive people.

Lastly, I think ridding myself of habits that bring me pain are another thing I must do. There are things I do and thoughts I think that only bring me sorrow and sadness. Whether it’s checking something online or thinking about the past, I know there are guards I must put in place to keep my emotional well being strong.

Mental

James’ talks about exercising the idea muscle using our minds. As anything, it tends to atrophy and die if not exercised and used properly. He writes down ideas all the time. I think this is something I can incorporate each day – writing down my ideas and then sharing them publicly here on my blog. I did something like that a little while ago when I thought of what direction to take my website.

I’ve also begun to sing and play the guitar this year – though I’m pretty terrible at both. Nevertheless, both of these have been extremely helpful for me to stretch myself and exercise myself mentally. I’m going to continue to do these in my spare time. Yesterday, I began to learn chords on the guitar and boy do the fingers on my left hand hurt!

I think for the mental part it is writing down ideas more. It is writing down what I am grateful for more. It is learning new things each and every day – even if it is just 5 minutes to learn a word or two in Spanish, that’s OK. I can incorporate better the practice of mental fitness each day by writing down ideas and continuing to learn new things.

Spiritual

James’ top recommendations for the spiritual are: pray, meditate, be grateful, forgive, and study. Here’s what each of those mean to me:

Pray

This means being thankful and recognizing a greater power in the universe that I’ve recently discovered this year. This means I acknowledge my own limitations and ask for continued guidance and the strength to do good in my life. It means that I acknowledge my own weakness and ask for strength.

Meditate

To me, this means going to a quiet place and simply focusing and breathing. It means accepting all thoughts and feelings that come in and acknowledging why they are happening. It means focusing on a positive outcome for the future and the only control I have – that of myself – to do things to get there.

Be Grateful

To me, this is recognizing those who give back. I never knew who James was until today. It’s a funny thing what a little internet search can do. For me, this means I recognize his value he has brought to me. He’s given me a starting point to turn my life around. I’m grateful for many other things in life too – experiences, people, and my own faculties.

I’ll make it a daily practice to be more grateful for what I have and those who have affected me positively.

Forgive

To me, this means I gracefully acknowledge anyone who has ever done me wrong and forgive and love them. But it also means I forgive myself. For I have also done wrong to others and I can’t move forward without forgiving myself and recognizing my own imperfections. I’m going to make forgiving a daily practice.

Study

James’ studies anything inspirational – whether a religious text or something Zen-like. For me, I think it means reading from people like James who have been there before. It means studying philosophies like Zen living and how to be centered in life. Even if it’s just a few minutes, I love the idea of studying each and every day.

Results

I’d like to track the results of this. I’ve been terrible at meaning what I say this year and actually following through. It will be nice to actually deliver on something. I’m going to start this practice through the end of August and see how it goes, chronicling my experience.

Let me share with you how I feel right now – and I’ll start with honesty. I’m feeling horrible about how I’ve treated my family this year and not being there for them. I feel an intense sense of longing and missing home from the one on the other side of the invisible cord. I feel I have hurt them and done them wrong and my greatest fear has been realized – they never want anything to do with me again. I feel at work, I’m not giving my best effort. I feel drained – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This morning, I actually thought to myself that if I weren’t around, many people would be better off in their life. In short, I think there’s no way to go but up from here.

So here we go, I’m going to start with today right now doing something in each of these four areas and documenting each day how I feel, what I’ve learned, that perhaps one of you going through your own personal rock bottom will start your climb out.

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