Out of Breakdowns Come Breakthroughs
By Nancy Zwiers
“Out of breakdowns come breakthroughs.”
I learned this phrase during my entrepreneurial training and have found it a source of strength and optimism ever since. Every situation that I labelled “bad” ended up ushering in my greater good.
This column shares a few personal examples of how some of my breakthroughs came from setbacks, but more importantly, it is designed to help you access the origins of your own breakthroughs born out of setbacks in a way that empowers you to ride out the bad times with hope for something better.
A Breakdown in Health
My brush with mortality in 2011, in the form of a breast cancer diagnosis, was terrible in so many ways. It laid me low and even resulted in mental health issues, which I self-diagnosed as PTSD. And yet, as I reflect back on that time, I see very clearly that I grew in invaluable new ways. I finally gave up trying to be perfect; I no longer wanted to feel like superwoman. Through the pain and fear, I was finally able to let go, embrace my human foibles/flaws, and finally fully love myself—just the way I was and was not. Not only did this allow me to access greater peace of mind and well-being, just as importantly, I became able to accept and love others more fully—just the way they were. What a gift!
A Breakdown in our Way of Life
On a global scale, the pandemic was a breakdown in our habitual way of living and unlocked new possibilities that we may have never uncovered had we not been forced to. It was terrible in so many ways for each of us (and some more than others). And yet, I know I reaped rewards from that breakdown, and I know each of us have found new insights that continue to enrich to this day. Reconnections, reconfigurations, renegotiated relationships, renewed hopes for something better. Some of the accommodations we made during the breakdown have led to new possibilities that were so beneficial, they endured beyond the lockdowns. What have been your gifts from the pandemic?
A Breakdown at Work
Twice in my career, I have had challenging relationships with my bosses such that I decided to leave my job before I thought I was really ready. Well, as it turns out, I left at the perfect time in each case. Without the breakdown in my relationship with my boss, I may have stayed too long and missed the golden opportunities that were waiting for me at that very point in time.
A Breakdown in Love
I learned in a workshop years ago that the way we build intimacy is through a cycle of “rupture and repair.” In essence, it is impossible to forge intimacy unless we experience a breakdown first. Once we process and repair the breakdown, we are left with a deeper intimacy that we could not get any other way. Haven't we all experienced this?
I could go on and on…because I have had many breakdowns of all sorts. But you get the idea. How can you revisit some of your painful setbacks or failures and find the gifts in them that have allowed you to achieve true breakthroughs?
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