Making the Leap…When You Can’t See the Other Side (Or, The Art of Having a Breakdown)


“Look before you leap,” they say.

Well, sometimes you look and you just can’t see what’s in front of you. Sometimes that’s scary as hell. Others, the anticipation of what’s to come is uniquely exciting.

My friends call this “diving into the abyss.” I love that phrase. Sometimes, you look at what’s ahead of you, and you see nothing…endlessly, as far as you can see, nothing.

Another way of looking at this is going through a breakdown.

I love breakdowns. I really do. To me they mean that you’re “breaking down” the way you see the world. The important part is the rebuilding. If you only break down with no plans to rebuild, it can be even more and unnecessarily confusing and painful.

Breakdowns can be big or they can be small. I’ve had some last for only a moment. And I’ve had others last more than a year. I’ve watched and helped friends through their own. I’ve felt completely lonely in some, and I’ve felt completely seen and cared for in others. People I speak with report the same.

While sometimes a breakdown feels like a sinking ship (that’s never coming back up to the surface), other times it feels like an engineless plane gliding through the sky…sometimes it’s going down, but some small adjustments get it back on course.

When You Look Before You Leap…And See Nothing

If, in a time of confusion combined with commitment, you look before you and see nothing, this is the first sign that you have the choice of diving into the abyss.

I’ve seen people look at the abyss, dip their toe in, and turn back. I’ve seen people look at the abyss, dip their toe in, dive in, then turn around and get out. And I’ve seen people dive in completely, swim across and make it to another side.

There are two things that separates those who make it to another side, from those who get back out:

  1. The pain they have been experiencing with their current behavior up until that moment, now outweighs the pain they believe they will experience by allowing their breakdown.
  2. They are committed, no matter what, to their personal growth.

Find Your Future

When you look into the future of your life and you see yourself continuing to live as you have been, what does that feel like?

When you look into the future of your life and you see yourself as you truly are – your best self – what does that feel like?

How committed are you to bridging that gap? How committed are you to diving into the despair of nothingness to experience the fullness on another side?

How committed are you to breaking down the self you’ve built, and allowing the Self you are to be rebuilt and to shine through?

If you’re not making change toward who you really are, if you feel the gap of who you are and who you could be but continue to feel complacent or ambivalent about it, what will it take inside of you to make that shift?

If you you just don’t seem to be able to move out from where you are, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

If I continue on this path…

  • …how fulfilled will I be?
  • …what kind of partner will I attract? Will they love me and my deepest self the way I know I want to and can be loved?
  • …what kind of people will I attract into my life? Are they able to support me in who I really am?
  • …what impact will this have on my children and grandchildren? What parts of me that I don’t like will they inherit?
  • …will I be able to leave this life, fulfilled, loving, and loved if I leave my last breath living as I have?

Some of those perspectives are intense. But the answers you know now will be the answers you know later in your life. They’ll be the answers you still have when a life has been built around the kind of person you are now.

Maybe that future life looks wonderful. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it needs a major change. Maybe it needs only a small change.

Whatever it is, only you can make that change. Only you can dive into the abyss and find another side. Only you can let your life break down so you can allow your Self to come through as it really is.

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