Why Rock Bottom Works–or Doesn’t




In 12 step groups they have a saying, “You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you stop digging.”

In other words… You know you’re at your lowest when you’re ready to change. That’s the hard truth if your lowest low was brought on by a compulsive behavior, habitual poor choices and/or a lack of boundaries. When we are our own downfall it’s easy to find fault and lay blame.

But what if the lines of blame are blurred by ambiguity? Unexpected losses, sickness, natural disasters, or accidents don’t give us a place to lay down our gavel. Rock bottom can invite itself to the party without an invitation engraved in ‘bad’ behavior.

The origin of the pain actually doesn’t matter. Rock bottom sucks no matter how you get there. So, how do some people recover and thrive after their rock bottom when many of us hit terrible lows in life and never get better?

pexels-photo-384553.jpegThere’s a story…

A boy left his family with a sizable inheritance and squandered it living unwisely. Hard times hit and when the money ran out his so-called friends scattered to the wind. He lost everything. He couldn’t pay his bills. He was friendless,  homeless, cold, hungry, and working a shameful, filthy job that was leagues beneath him. It was in this moment, where no one would give him anything, that he realized that even the employees that worked for his father’s business lived better than this.

He decided to swallow his pride, face his father and ask for a job.

The son got up out of the filth and made the journey home practicing his apology and job request the whole way.

When he made it to the parking lot his father ran out to meet him. The son didn’t get half a sentence out of his mouth before his father wrapped his dirty, skinny son in a bear hug. The son deserved judgement, but was greeted with love, acceptance and celebration not as an employee but as a son. It’s a beautiful story.

A happy ending for a horrible rock bottom experience, right?

But when do you think the son changed?

In the parking lot when his father embraced him? No, I think not.

In the beginning this kid was a spoiled, selfish, entitled, brat. He came from privilege and was given the resources enough to build a successful life, but he didn’t. He threw his family away to live dangerously, and for a while he was ‘happy.’

–But his attitudes and habits created trouble for him.

His selfishness led to shallow relationships. His entitlement made him impossible to please. He wasted money but more importantly he wasted people. He didn’t plan for his future and he didn’t think through his decisions.

The same traits that brought him to trouble are what had to die in the trouble.

Think about it… it wasn’t the father’s patient love that changed the son. All the love in the world can’t change anyone, or the son would have never needed changing. his father had always loved him.

No, it was the trouble that transformed the boy into a man. Hear what I’m saying…

Rock bottom changes you. Trouble molds you. Hardship shows us who we are.

This kid left a spoiled brat and returned home humbled, grateful and teachable. And we can blame rock bottom for his metamorphosis.


Rock bottom is a mirror. A reckoning. A beginning and an end. No one gets out alive– or at least the same. Something has to die, and it’s usually our pride.

What makes the difference? What swings the pendulum from living in defeat to rising strong?

We do.


Face down in the mud we think… Am I gonna lay down and die here or rise to feel the sun on my face one more time?


Are you worth fighting for? Or do you deserve the pain?

Are you worthy of beauty? Or are you beyond redemption?

It comes down to value. Are you valuable? Do you value yourself?

Rock bottom works for us when the answer to the question becomes yes.

YES– I’m worthy!

YES–I’m valuable! Important! Strong! Beautiful!

When we decide that we are better, and we deserve better, and we can recover, that is when a better life is possible–for us!

That’s the difference maker.

The son changed the moment he decided he was done living in the dirt. Which meant breaking the habits and attitudes that brought him there in the first place.

That’s how people rise strong from their rock bottoms.

What do you think makes us rise strong from rock bottom, or keeps us down? Comment and  let me know. Or like us on Facebook for more interaction.




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