There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.Louis L’Amour
If you’ve hit rock bottom and you’re in your early, mid, or late 30s, you want to practice self-compassion, be positive, and focus all your energy on the present moment as well as a better future.
When I say “future”, I don’t mean a decade from now — it could be a month from now. Or it could be tomorrow. You decide.
You also want to see the bigger picture and realize that no matter how painful or uncomfortable your current situation may be, that’s going to give you the power to turn into a different person.
And it turns out, your 30s are actually a pretty good time to do that.
Hitting rock bottom: blessing in disguise?
There are times in our life in which spiritual development and personal growth in general seems to happen faster than we would ever have thought, faster than light.
They are major turning points that affect the following five, ten, twenty years; sometimes they shape the whole remainder of our existence.
Now, what’s fascinating is that these phases of explosive creativity and growth tend to happen after some sort of crisis, disappointment, or loss. Not after a positive event.
Even the Buddha’s path to enlightenment 2,500 years ago began after the realization that a luxurious life was not the answer to a fulfilling life. There was dissatisfaction, disillusionment, pain.
That pain — be it a simple realization, or hitting rock bottom — has a purpose. It brings awareness. It tells you something in your life has to change; perhaps you need to change.
If you’ve hit rock bottom in your 30s, that’s an opportunity for massive growth. Yes, it’s painful. Yes, you wonder why life is so unfair. But that’s not the point.
Hitting rock bottom is always a beginning rather than an end. And if it happens in your 30s, that can be an advantage as well. Here’s why…
Hitting rock bottom in your 30s
If you hit rock bottom when you’re too young, you may not have the maturity or experience to deal with it.
If you hit rock bottom when you’re too old, you may not have the time or energy to deal with it.
Now, that’s not to say that hitting rock bottom at, say, 35, is better or worse than the same experience when you’re 25. It’s simply different, and you want to see that difference as an advantage.
In your early, mid, or late 30s you are officially a grown-up. But you’re still young as well. That gives you the chance to start over without the thought of “it’s too late”.
I’ve already mentioned hitting rock bottom is the beginning of something rather than the end of something. Since pretty much all of us go through a crisis at some point in our life, you’d assume the earlier, the better.
But that’s not necessarily the case. If you’re in your 30s, think of yourself ten or fifteen years ago.
Did that person have the same level of maturity, experience, wisdom, and strength? Probably not, right? That person did not know what you know right now. He or she was not as mentally strong as you are right now.
What to do if you’ve hit rock bottom in your 30s
1. Practice self-compassion
It’s easy to be too self-critical, to have a negative inner dialogue, to exaggerate the importance of our mistakes… in general. So naturally, when you hit rock bottom, that’s even more likely to happen.
Tip number one: treat yourself as you would treat someone you love, support, and appreciate. The sense of confusion and disappointment that comes with hitting rock bottom is bad enough — don’t be your worst enemy! Be your own best friend.
2. Say goodbye to the past
That’s it. The past exists in your mind only. Whatever happened to you, whoever you used to be, your previous environment or situation — all gone now. It’s not about the past, it’s about the here and now.
It’s about the present moment, because the present moment is all we have. The past defines you only if you think it does. When you hit rock bottom, you want to focus all your energy on what’s to come, the future, and what you can do right now to move toward that.
3. Consider therapy
And don’t be skeptical — it does help. Immensely. If you knew how much your own thoughts and feelings influence the world around you, if you were to realize the power of your own mind, you’d choose your thoughts wisely.
Now, it can be hard to do that on your own, especially when you’ve just hit rock bottom. A therapist is basically someone who helps you understand your own mind, not by telling you to “think positive” but with techniques that are potentially much more effective than pills.
4. Take massive action
Hitting rock bottom leads to a sense of emptiness. That sense of emptiness leads to inactivity. Inactivity leads to stagnation and depression (that is, the opposite of expression).
It’s okay to take time to reflect, and perhaps feel the pain for a while, but we often tend to indulge in the pain, to dwell on it. Big mistake. The easiest way to prevent that? Stick to a routine and take action every day. Force yourself to do things, to use your body rather than your mind only.
5. See the bigger picture
I’ve found that our brain often has a “glitch” where it interprets what we’re going through right now as everything there is and everything there will ever be. So for example, you hit rock bottom and you think that defines you and your whole life.
Yes, the present moment is all we can work on. But to think that our current situation defines us, that’s a fundamental mistake of the mind. So you want to see the bigger picture — know that things will work out for you and that the current phase is nothing but a stepping stone.
6. Make health a priority
It’s time to get rid of all those bad habits that interfere with your health. You’re a lot more vulnerable and fragile right after you’ve hit rock bottom, so you want to treat your health as your most precious asset (it always is).
Prioritize your sleep, what you eat, what you feed your mind and your soul. Because yes, physical and mental health are equally important, And interconnected.
7. Detach from the mind
Lastly, learn to observe your own mind as if it was a separate entity. It’s a skill that can truly change your life. All those negative thoughts and images inside your head are not you. And if you can’t silence them, at least you have the power to ignore them.
Also, learn to be thoughtless. Not in the sense of being rude, but in the sense of being in a state of no-mind. Meditation helps tremendously. The more you experience a state of no-mind, the more you realize that the mind is useful only if you have control over it. And we often don’t.
Remember: what you’re going through at the moment isn’t the end, but the beginning. And that comes from someone who’s struggled with severe depression, panic, and anxiety for years.
Now I’m grateful I went through all that. It taught me lessons I couldn’t have learned in any book. It made me stronger, wiser, and happier. Your pain always has a purpose.