How a Breakdown Can Become a Breakthrough
Few things are as feared as much as a psychological and emotional breakdown, yet in the final analysis, when many of us look back on our lives we see how a breakdown can become a breakthrough.
Now while any form of breakdown – be it a relationship, spiritual or even mental – is very unsettling; if honoured, integrated and processed with love, wisdom and authenticity, such an experience can become the most fundamental, powerful and revolutionary of your whole life.
Yet despite the deeply transformative potential of the breakdown, it is something we as individuals and our culture instinctively shun.
This is human nature to an extent, our lizard brains are programmed to run away from fear and the threat of suffering, and worse still, our society is awash with stultifying norms and values that trap us in conditioned personalities that cannot be seen to stray off course for fear of social ostracisation.
Yet perhaps the most stultifying block we face is that of our own ego.
This is because as soon as we build an identity and actualize that in the dynamic world of work, society and relationships, we build up several masks we have to wear to acquire a sense of status in the world.
Again, this is normal in a sense, being just the play of life, yet the danger occurs when our whole life becomes the maintenance of these masks while the true self beneath becomes evermore fraught, pained and confused.
This scenario is becoming so commonplace that many folks live with an almost constantly pervading sense of anxiety, depression or inner confusion, and hence turn to medications, addictions and coping strategies to maintain the façade of normality.
And while we can put up this front for a lifetime, we will only trap ourselves in dysfunction, with a limited idea of who and what we really are.
How a Breakdown can Become a Breakthrough: Letting Go to Evolution
All manner of things can fool us into thinking we’re excelling in life despite this inner lack of true meaning, it could be flash cars, nice suits, a hot girlfriend or a high-status job, yet all of these things eventually stop working.
After all, if they did work, we wouldn’t see Hollywood celebrities endlessly virtue-signalling, shilling the next health product, or checking in and out of rehab.
The more you look into this the more you see that we as human beings really do not know what it good for us.
When we look back over our lives we see that more often the experiences we fought against the most – a breakup from your first-love, losing a cherished job, even your first day of school – were actually the precursors to your evolution.
At this point, we can start to see how a breakdown experience, while undoubtedly frightening, can sometimes be exactly what you need to blow away the falsehoods within, let dysfunctional parts of you die, and bring forth the inner blockages that ail you.
How a Breakdown can Become a Breakthrough: Recovering Men
Regular visitors will know that this was exactly my experience.
After years of deep inner trauma, confusion around the suicide of my addicted elder brother, of wearing a mask of a competent, smarmy business professional and trapped in an addictive, obsessive relationship with a woman I thought I was in love with, I couldn’t take the relentless pain anymore, and one day, I just snapped.
Now despite this being frightening to endure, almost immediately after I fell apart I found myself with a deep sense of peace and clarity within.
This didn’t mean my problems had evaporated, it meant that I’d realised I was deeper than my problems, and that the ego I had been trying to protect, to live up to and maintain was ultimately an untenable illusion based on past trauma and fear of social judgement.
This led me to finally find myself, to find my purpose in the world in Recovering Man, to leave behind compulsive behaviour and to embrace a life of harmony, growth and humility.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m now immune from bad days or even a future breakdown if I lose my way – in fact one of the dangers in rebuilding your life is the ego wants to step back in and take credit for my transformation, thereby building another mask of transformation guru.
Yet all that happened to me is what happens to anyone who experiences what I call a ‘Symbolic Death’, the end result of which can only be an enhancement of consciousness.
How a Breakdown can Become a Breakthrough: The Symbolic Death
The Symbolic Death is that which wipes the slate clean, it completely restarts your life from scratch, and while this feels like death to the ego – which is why we fear it and it’s hard to endure – in time we see how this experience has set us free, and most importantly, shown us that at our root we are beyond masks, beyond fear, beyond limits.
In fact, what we are at our most fundamental level, before thoughts judge as to whether something is positive or negative, is peace itself, untouchable, unbreakable being itself that is beyond definition.
This is exactly what I’m pointing to in the silent prayer exercise that I recommend you engage in regularly to recognise this peace within, yet you, like me, like us all must face the fear.
You may feel terrified of it, you may feel minute against it, yet you are not, what you truly are can never be overwhelmed, yet the only way you can see that, is by walking into the storm within and seeing who comes out of the other side.
If you enjoyed this piece on how a breakdown can become a breakthrough and would like to know more about men’s work, inner work and the symbolic death remember I can guide you through the 7-Steps of Initiation.