What is this crazy guy on about? A breakdown being a good thing? How could turning into an emotional and physical wreck ever be a good thing? Well, let's take a look.
Let me start off by saying that I have had the absolute unpleasure of 'breaking down' a few times in my life. (In inverted commas because I didn't end up in hospital. I've seen people who have had full-blown breakdowns to the level of not being able to talk properly, so I don't take this subject lightly.)
My personal experience of a breakdown is it not being a 'good' thing in any way, shape or form. Quite the opposite. But this view was from inside the breakdown – while actually experiencing it.
The thing that I refer to as having the potential of being 'good' is what can happen after the breakdown – if you choose to gain experience from it and view it in a different way.
It's completely fair to think of a breakdown as not being good, especially when going through it. In between crying and feeling like a complete failure, there is little time or space for such merriment. This is why time is also an important factor here.
I don't expect anyone to be reading this while going through a breakdown. My hope is you get to read this after experiencing a breakdown, or before facing a challenging time that could take you on a course of breaking down.
The aim here isn't to avoid the experience. Although tough, it's only through the experience we get to see things firsthand. Firsthand experience is everything. You would much rather have an experienced dentist work on your teeth than a rookie, right?
You can't necessarily prevent a breakdown. My next point highlights why. But you can certainly aim to take something from it, rather than have it keep you down.
DESTRUCTION FORCES GROWTH
A guy at the gym wore a t-shirt similar to the one in the above picture that said 'Destruction Forces Growth'.
Muscles grow when muscle fibres are damaged by lifting weights. Your body repairs the fibres, and they grow back bigger.
Although crude, his t-shirt highlights the need for something to break before it gets stronger, grows or improves.
A breakdown can be seen as a weakness, a part of your life to be ashamed of, and something that you can never recover from. Or it can be used as an opportunity to grow, seen as a necessity to enable change, strength and improvement.
The old will was broken to make way for the new will – a level of strength you never knew you had but was there all along.
Life is about growth. It is about evolution and moving forward. This is due to the simple fact that relates to the opposite. If you are not growing and evolving, what are you doing?
You are dying. Or worse, 'dying without a cause'.
Things move on because the idea is they get better – including you.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we were still driving cars from the 1980s?
My first car was a red Mini Metro that looked just like this. It was so bad, I had to slam on the brakes to make them work. And when I put petrol in it, half the tank of petrol would leak out of the pipe. Good memories.
Nowadays we've got power steering, comfort packages, big screens and digital music systems in our cars – all because of evolution.
The old Mini Metros went on the scrapheap a long time ago to make way for the trendy, modern, convenient car you drive today.
The old you went on the scrapheap to make way for the stronger, healthier, more lighthearted and enlightened you.
MOVING ON FROM THE PAST
The past doesn't have to define who you are. And neither do your experiences.
You get to choose whether or not you look upon a breakdown as a weakness, or whether it was something that happened to make you stronger – something that took place to make way for the new you.
When you choose the latter, your outlook on life might take a very different course. Rather than beating yourself up, or allowing others to beat you up, you might choose to take the experience and use it – use it to do good.
1. Tell yourself that whatever caused the breakdown won't ever happen again. You are finished with that, and it's time to move on.
2. Help others facing the same problems with your deeper level of understanding and empathy, having been through it yourself.
The second point is extra special because it refers back to growth. Growing beyond a cause that is bigger than your own is one of the quickest forms to enable growth.
As I highlighted at the start, timing is everything. You have to be ready.
When it comes to helping others, you can't give something you haven't got.
When it comes to helping yourself, don't be afraid of being a little more selfish. There is nothing 'selfish' about putting yourself in order first, before anyone else. Everyone benefits from that in the long run.
Take the experience, accept it. But most importantly, aim to grow from it.