Other than archaeologists, no-one willingly digs a deep, dank hole in the hope of finding treasure. When we find ourselves free falling towards the bottom it’s usually because we’ve wandered into a dark place in our minds, and on landing we grub around in the soil blaming everyone and everything for our misfortune. It’s easy to claim the universe is conspiring against us. Actually, the universe doesn’t give a fig.
We can shout in the hope that someone will hear us and come to the rescue. We can cry but that only brings temporary relief. We can kick and scream and get really angry but that leaves us more frustrated. Or, we can surrender to our fate.
Warren Buffet said, “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” I would say, put the shovel down and spend that precious, quiet time applying a fresh approach the problem.
These holes represent facets of our lives where we have made errors of judgement: financial, legal, health, work and relationship being the most common. We can see them as negative and a reflection of failure but if we expend all our energy flailing about and beating ourselves up, there’s none left to ponder on what the hole might have to teach us. Might there be some hidden treasure that would have lain discovered had we not hit rock bottom?
It’s frightening down there, alone in the dark and we might be in some pain but in order to rise to the surface we need to stop resisting and do some work on ourselves, no matter how distressing. Firstly, see the pain as a wake-up call for change. Something in your world isn’t right and hasn’t been for some time yet maybe you’ve turned your face away hoping it will sort itself out. We all do that at times.
Holes are metaphors for avoidance. Now is the moment to face the foe. Let’s say your demon is debt but you keep on shopping to alleviate the anxiety. While the walls of the hole are shielding you from distractions, you can mentally come to terms with this self-destructive behaviour and outline steps towards a solution. Small wins are more motivating than giant strides as they create confidence and a feeling of self-worth.
To be successful requires digging deep into your heart to unlock the origin of your behaviour. Continuing with the example of debt and shopping, maybe it stems from being bullied at school for not having a decent pair of trainers. We go to any lengths to rid ourselves of the feelings of shame and poor self -worth that accompany these situations and if that means reckless spending, so be it. It’s irrational but makes emotional sense.
The real work starts when we are plunged back into a murky past to excavate those painful feelings and lay them out on the surface for examination. This is when having the right kind of support is invaluable.
The last time I paid an unsolicited visit to Bottomsville was when my business hit a brick wall. After much soul searching I decided it was time to wrap it up and move onto something new. For a year, I was angry. There were no shiny beads or bits of interesting pottery in my trench but after a while I spotted a tiny shard of glass twinkling in the mud. It spoke to me. You are not your career. You are an individual with plenty more to offer. Help one person and you help the world.
Be like the archaeologist. Get off your bottom! See that hole as a place of treasure – of wonder. That is your life. Prepare to be filled with awe as you reclaim that discarded bit of you and integrate it in your life in a meaningful way.
It doesn’t mean you won’t fall into another hole but next time you might peer down with interest and walk round it.
This is what I’d write on my post card from Bottomsville. Didn’t want to come but so glad I stopped by.