When You Hit Rock Bottom You Can Only Go Up

· September 15, 2016

Sometimes our lives go at full speed down a cliff. We hit the bottom emotionally, physically, socially and in our careers. We remain huddled there with fear and sadness.

Everyone has serious problems and has had drama or tragedies in their lives. Everyone is strong and has a plan until they experience pain. When you hit rock bottom you may feel lost.

Aaron Beck, in his explanation of depression, says that we can question our irrational thoughts with the technique of the Down Arrow and the Paradoxical Magnification Technique. Taking the example of these two techniques and your own experience, you will realize that once you hit the bottom, you can only go up.

“The real pain, which makes us suffer deeply, sometimes makes even the thoughtless man serious and constant; even the poor in spirit become more intelligent after a great pain. “

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky-

Realize that your mistake is fear

Everyone is afraid of adverse events that they may experience. When you’ve already experienced great pain and feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, you have two options: continuing in that almost vegetative, painful state or overcoming it. This really is your decision.


anxiety fear

The Down Arrow is a cognitive therapy technique to help you examine your negative thoughts. To practice it, you select a negative thought and ask yourself the question: If this thought were true, what would it mean to me? Usually, the answer is a new, related negative thought. You then ask successive questions (drawing down arrows), ultimately exposing counterproductive beliefs (perfectionism, need for approval, fears, etc.).

Despite the difficulty of the exercise and the thoughts that you are holding, eventually the technique brings us realize that, even if the worst case scenario happened, we could endure and stay alive. It helps us recognize that our thoughts amplify our pain.

You can always suffer because nothing is certain in this life. Once you get to the root, the worst case scenario, you might be on the floor in discouragement. But at that point, you realize the only choice is to overcome it and continue on. You have little to lose, just fear.

We amplify our sorrows and see the absurdity of our current attitude

Paradoxical Magnification is a cognitive technique in which the client is instructed to exaggerate negative thoughts rather than try to stop them or control them. Paradoxically, these thoughts may seem absurd and meaningless. Obviously, this technique should be used for negative thoughts associated to events that are not emotionally catastrophic (the death of a child, for example).

Paradoxical Magnification helps the patient realize they are not in the worst possible case. They may feel alone because they have just broken up with their partner, but they are far from being in the worst possible state of loneliness in which they would not have relatives or friends.

Suffering makes us wise and resilience makes us strong

There is nothing in the life of a person that can bring them down if they don’t allow it. We set the limits. We are the ones who chose whether to give an ear to damaging comments from negative people.

There are people living bitter moments and end up bitter and embittering others. There are others that transform their bitterness into the antithesis they want for their life: they know what it is and do not want it for themselves or for others. They are people of light, born from the grayness of their existence.

woman with yellow irises

When we transfer the limits of ridicule, pain, humiliation, of feeling judged, unhappy…when we transfer them and see that we have already suffered, we have reached the true meaning of our existence. For only when you’ve hit rock bottom and have understood the process do you realize that the only option is to go up.

We fall down with the certainty that we will no longer act by our ego, but by our authentic personal values. We will withdraw from competition with others to simply fight for our own dreams. From such bad experiences and suffering, the best, by mere inertia, is yet to come. Step forward, launch yourself to live and just let it come. You have fallen so low that you can only go up.

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