Jason Hietbrink

When The Bottom Falls Out

When the Bottom Falls Out

I don’t know if you need this article today, if you’ll need it in three weeks or in three years, but I do know this – you will need what it contains at some point in your life.

None of us are immune to the moments in life where it feels like the bottom is falling out. Things we once thought were certain and secure, suddenly feel unstable and out of control.  Perhaps something we love is taken away or what we hoped for seems lost.

How do we navigate the moments of life when you’re in the eye of the tornado and it feels like chaos all around.

Let me be the first to remind you, this isn’t the first time this has happened to you, and it won’t be the last.

I’ve been there.

  • When I was in sixth grade, all my friends deserted me. I can still remember them running away from me on the playground high fiving each other because they’d rid themselves of their “uncool” friend. I was alone and unwanted. My world was over.
  • When I was in eighth grade, a girl dumped me. She told all her friends I was a bad kisser. This was suicide for a junior high kid. I was so embarrassed, I never wanted to show my face at school again.
  • Freshman year of college, I had a career-ending injury to my elbow and could no longer play baseball. I was devastated. Sports were “my life.”
  • Fall of my sophomore year of college I went into a deep depression. To this day I have no explanation for what caused this. All I can tell you is that for about four months, all I wanted to do was sleep. It was four months, but felt like it was going to last forever.
  • Spring of my junior year of college, Jenny (my wife now) and I broke up after 3.5 yrs. of dating. I had bought an engagement ring for this girl and now it was over. The future I’d imagined for myself was flipped upside down.
  • In 2014 we moved back to Lincoln and built our dream home. The builder lied to us multiple times throughout the process, and we ended up needing an additional $170k out of pocket, beyond our downpayment. All our savings from the past 10 yrs. were gone in the blink of an eye.
  • In 2015, our son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of seven. The doctor told us he’d never play organized sports, have a lot of trouble in school, and likely not be able to make friends. I remember driving home with my dreams dashed to pieces for my son’s life and wondering where we would go from here.
  • In 2018, we sold the dream house and lost over $350k on the transaction, only to move into a different house that cost us over $100k in unforeseen repairs over the next nine months. The savings we’d re-built were gone, again.
  • In 2022, I got the call I feared the most but never would have expected. I was let go from my high-level leadership position. After 16 years of challenging work, my large salary and influence were gone in a moment. I was blindsided. What was I going to do now?

Now, I’m in no way looking to compare to what you’re going through or have gone through. There are many things in life much more difficult than these I’ve listed above (death of a child, a spouse, etc).

However, no matter how big/small those events seem to me today, in the moment, they felt cataclysmic. Like life was being uprooted.

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If trees were like us, I imagine this might be how they’d feel when they’re uprooted.

Trees

Everything that seemed secure in their world is suddenly gone.

Truth is, uprooting HURTS.

But what trees don’t know is that the uprooting of a once comfortable location in their life is ONLY meant to give them the room they need to grow.

They’re being taken to a bigger, broader, more expansive place with richer soil, where their roots can go deeper, and they can become stronger.

And so are you.

Here’s what I’ve realized about these “bottom-dropping” moments in my life:

The bottom hasn’t fallen out.

If it WAS the “bottom” then life wouldn’t have continued without that (job/friend/house) I thought I needed to be enough, to feel secure, and to be happy.

Truth is, I didn’t need the thing I thought I needed.

It was a false expectation.

We can’t see it in the moment,
however, as we look back on our past,
we are able to gain perspective in the present.

Every event I wrote above where the bottom seemed to be falling out of my world served a purpose. And those events that at one time made me think my world was ending, I am now grateful for.

They’ve led me to where I am today, shaped me into who I am today, and rid me of the false and weak foundations I used to place my hope in for security, peace, and joy.

The bottom isn’t falling out.

The bottom is opening to make room for something greater.

Stay the path.

Let go of control.

You never had it anyway.

Step 3

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Step 2

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