Breakdowns Before Breakthroughs
For the record, reports of my kidnapping by aliens have been greatly exaggerated. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I recently got back home after spending nearly a month in Florida. Between two conferences, catching up with friends and family, and working while traveling, I barely had time to write. I’ve also been using the time since my return to catch up on a number of projects that had piled up while I was on the road. I realize that’s not an excuse for leaving everyone hanging, so please accept my apologies.
I plan to make it up to you by going into a writing frenzy over the next few weeks and scheduling as many posts as I can, because yes, I have a lot to say. Speaking of conferences, have you ever attended a conference or seminar that took you to an incredible “high,” only to find yourself crashing within days of getting home? If you’ve ever had that experience, you know what I’m talking about. Now imagine going to two conferences (with a period of only a couple of weeks between them), staying on that “high” for the whole time, getting home, and then “crashing” two weeks later. That’s essentially what happened to me. I was on an emotional and spiritual high for a full month – even after I got home. I found my experience unusual, because I typically start my decompression and “reentry” process the day after I return home from a conference. This time however, I continued to have amazing breakthroughs and periods of growth well after my trip ended. I started to wonder if I was on the emotional equivalent of 5-Hour Energy, where you don’t experience a “crash” after the energy drink wears off.
And then it happened.
A few days ago I had a spectacular meltdown. I woke up one morning feeling disconnected, scared, confused, and wondering what the hell I was doing. I was filled with self-doubt and I honestly wondered if I was on the right course. I found myself spontaneously crying and melting into a pool of emotional goo. Even crazier, I instinctively knew that whatever it was I was going through had nothing to do with the lifelong relationship I’ve had with depression. I know what depression feels like, and this breakdown was totally different. Underneath the tears, the confusion, and the self-doubt was a feeling of utter peace and alignment. I didn’t recognize that feeling until later, but I knew that I was going through something I had never experienced before – at least, not at that level of intensity.
In the past I used to keep my breakdowns to myself, but since I know that the best thing to do for my emotions is to let them flow, I realized that bottling up was not an option. So, rather than keeping my experience to myself, I reached out to my support community – my fellow “Ippies” (Infinite Possibilities Trainers). I’ve personally witnessed what happens when we set our intentions as a community toward healing. Within minutes of me saying, “Um, I could use a little help here,” I started to get messages of support.
Text messages, Facebook messages, phone calls, and emails started pouring in. I was surrounded by unconditional love and support, and I was lovingly reminded of the very things I teach and practice every day: Acknowledge my feelings, allow them to flow, love myself, express gratitude for the contrast, and take a nap. (I’ll admit that taking a nap really appealed to me, and I eventually did take one).
Throughout the experience, my friends helped me to gain clarity and understand what I was going through. (It helps that so many of them are life coaches and healers!) The first thing I realized was that I had not followed my typical “re-entry” ritual when I got home from my trip. I jumped straight into work mode and didn’t give myself the proper self-care I deserved. Normally, I give myself a day or two decompress. I often work during my decompression time, but my focus is on ensuring a soft landing. I didn’t deploy my parachute after this trip, and the crater I made when I hit the ground was quite amazing. Frankly, I’m still in awe.
Second, I had forgotten to set boundaries for myself. That’s critical in all areas of your life, but it’s even more so when you’re self-employed. Yes, long hours are part of the package in self-employment land, but they don’t have to be. I’ve discovered that if I set boundaries for my work, I focus much better on what I need to do. I like being busy, but if I don’t create those boundaries, I spin my wheels a lot, and then I get frustrated and overwhelmed.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, breakdowns always precede breakthroughs. As I mentioned earlier, I was on “conference high” for a long time, and while I was in that place I experienced quite a few epiphanies and “ah-ha” moments. Those insights introduced a lot of new ideas and changes to what had previously been a closed system (a.k.a. – my old fearful way of thinking). Those of you who are familiar with the Second Law of Thermodynamics can probably see where I’m going with this. For those who don’t “geek speak,” an oversimplified way of explaining the Second Law of Thermodynamics would be this; when change is introduced to a system, that system undergoes a lot of expansion and chaos before it settles back down into its newer, more expanded state. That’s pretty much what happened to me. I grew quite a bit (physically and emotionally, but my physical expansion is a different topic), and that growth introduced a lot of chaos into my thoughts and feelings.
Prior to me going through all of this, a very dear friend of mine warned me of what was coming. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully register what she said until the moment hit. She told me that when a body rids itself of toxins, some of the “stuff” that lies deep in our tissues might take a while to be fully expelled. Translation… crap occasionally surfaces when we least expect it. The same thing holds true for our thoughts. Some self-defeating thoughts have deep roots, and while we may get rid of most of them in one big cleanse, some of the more toxic ones will take longer to leave us because the residue stays behind. When that residue surfaces, the experience isn’t always pleasant. The good news is that the residue WILL eventually disappear and leave us free to move on with our lives.
So yes, my breakdown has led to some major breakthroughs. I’m still processing them, however. Some I can share right away, while others will take a while for me to translate into language you and I can understand. Be assured that I will share them as I can and that my Reflections will indeed reflect my new reality. My hope is that as I share my Reflections, they will help you create your own awesome realities.
Brace yourselves, my friends. The wild ride is just beginning.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.