The biggest myth we were ever taught is that life is meant to be cupcakes, rainbows, and glitter every damn day. Newsflash: it's not. And it never will be.
In a mass-marketed, capitalistic world that's nonstop pumping us with messages about h̶o̶w̶ ̶w̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶b̶e̶ what we need to buy to be better, wealthier, happier, healthier, and more desired - it can often feel as though 'if it's so easy for them to be those things' then 'there must be something wrong with me for not feeling that way'. Made worse by the fact that most of us feel we're not wealthy enough (in time, money, health, luck, and love) to achieve what 'all the others' seem to have. And so perpetuates an often lifelong cycle of 'never enough' and the false idea that once we arrive at a certain destination, a certain relationship, a certain career status, we'll discover perpetual happiness.
The truth is that life is not linear - it's not about 'arriving' at all. Life, especially for women, is cyclical - ebbing and flowing - constantly changing through a series of birth/life/lessons/death and rebirth. And herein lies another crux of the argument for the avoidance of suffering - death doesn't feel good - but it's such a necessary part of life and evolution that those who choose to avoid its temporary discomfort are actually subjecting themselves to a lifelong pattern of avoidance and staying small. We aren't meant to live our lives in our childhood homes alongside our parents, in the same small town, in the same dead-end job, 'just surviving'.
Did you ever watch that Casey Neistat video for Nike? #MakeItCount? Life is a sport. Make it count.
Life is either daring adventure or nothing at all. – Helen Keller
Buy the ticket. Take the ride. – Hunter S. Thompson
You only live once but if you do it right, once is enough. – Mae West
Above all, try something. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
I never worry about the future. It comes soon enough. – Albert Einstein
One who makes no mistakes makes nothing at all. – Giacomo Casanova
Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt
In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln
If I’d followed all the rules, I’d never have gotten anywhere. – Marilyn Monroe
Action expresses priorities. – Gandhi If you're looking to evolve, it's best for you to become acquainted with the term dark night of the soul. Every meaningful lifetime journey has its share of trials and tribulations - there's no such thing as a life without struggle (there are only people who choose not to be open and honest about theirs). When things in your world seem to reach their lowest, you might be experiencing your "dark night of the soul." I can assure you the experience won't be enjoyable, but your dark night of the soul is an essential part of awakening and evolving to the next level(s) of your higher self. Are you willing to pay the price?
The Key Elements of Dark Night Of The Soul
Shattered Belief System
Withdrawal From The Life You Knew
Profound Life Transformation
The term "dark night of the soul" originated in a poem written by a 16th-century Spanish mystic, but all he was building upon is the ancient concept of a 'spiritual depression' - something that spiritual and religious traditions worldwide have acknowledged. In Buddhism, it's eloquently referred to as "falling into the pit of the void". Your dark night of the soul is any point in your life when all its darkness comes to the forefront seemingly all out once, with a tsunami-force that makes you feel like you're drowning regardless of how desperately you struggle to stay afloat. It's often associated with feeling like everything in the world, in life, in the entire universe is going awry. Health problems. Suffering. Setbacks. Obstacles. Conflicts. Everything seems to layer itself one-on-top-of-the-other. And it's not enjoyable - but experts in the fields of spiritual psychology, psychiatry, and mindfulness unanimously agree that these darker passage are a very necessary part of our evolution and shouldn't be vilified or avoided. These darker chapters are a powerful roadmap to our purpose in life and come chock full of deeply transformative life lessons. These are the chapters in which we re-align with our most authentic truths, setting ourselves free from the baggage, armour, illusions, masks, fear, and ego we picked up along the way. The dark night of the soul is intended to align you with what's real and true for you AT THAT POINT IN TIME (not what was real or true for you a year before, five years before, or a decade ago). This is often a time when misaligned longterm partnerships will begin to struggle and disintegrate. It's when our life's career loses its lustre and we start to feel disconnected and empty around our family. Your dark night of the soul awakens you to clear a path toward your deepest desires (which most of us have been taught in our lives to ignore).
Is Dark Night Of The Soul the same thing as clinical depression? Though they might seem similar, and some narrow-minded medical experts may treat them as one and the same, these two life experiences are quite distinct. Sometimes someone going through a dark night of the soul may also be depressed but not necessarily, and the same holds true in reverse. The key distinctions rest in definition - one as a psychological/neurological/biological disorder while the other is a definitive spiritual evolution - an awakening, an increase in life frequency - a pathway to the next chapters of your existence.
The dark night of the soul is related to a sense of confusion and distress, a disorientation regarding your place in the world, the bigger meaning of life and what it means to be 'alive'. This is a time of chaos in your worldviews, your beliefs, the perspectives through which you've lived your life to this point, old habits, questioning thought patterns and reanalyzing the purpose of various relationships in your life. The dark night of the soul serves a distinct purpose - to wake you up to a more authentic life.
If you believe you are clinically depressed, you must seek clinical support.
If you resonate with feeling that you're experiencing a dark night of the soul and you're seeking purpose and meaning in your life - I assure you, you will call it in. Symptoms You May Feel in Your Dark Night Of The Soul You feel a deep sense of sadness, which often verges on despair (this sadness is often triggered by the state of your life, humanity, and/or the world as a whole)
intense feelings of confusion, helplessness, hopelessness
powerful feeling of being lost or “condemned” to a life of suffering or emptiness
painful feelings of unworthiness
a weakening of will and self-control, simple actions feel like they are requiring intense effort making it difficult for you to act
difficulty experiencing interest, passion, or pleasure in the things that once ignited you
Grief for the loss of something intangible; a longing for a distant place or to “return home” again, to "feel whole"
These are the Stages of the Dark Night Of The Soul
1. A major life disruption, or traumatic / triggering event - any transformative life event you feel unprepared for, usually accompanied by intense emotional pain and a sense of confusion, disorientation - marked by substantial feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and lack of control. Nothing feels predictable. Nothing feels 'safe' anymore. Major events can include a physical or sexual trauma, major illness, death of a loved one, divorce, poverty, abuse, injustice, betrayal, losing a job, etc.
2. A loss of sense of direction, loss of hope
- despair and hopelessness prevail. Suddenly it feels as though the life you've been living to this point was useless, a waste of time, meaningless
3. Rock bottom, breaking point, threshold of pain, loss of loved oned
- no stage of the Dark Night Of The Soul is enjoyable, but this part is particularly unkind. This is often described as the darkest time in someone's life. This time is noted with emotional numbness, disconnection from family/friends, isolation, escaping to numbing behaviours such as obsessive pursuit of pleasure or addiction. This can also be a time linked with friends/family abandoning the sufferer - usually from a lack of resources or tools to offer support (and their own thresholds for pain tolerance being exceeded) It's easy to believe that this stage of life is nothing more than suffering - but it holds so many powerful lessons - if we're open to receiving them! 4. Awakening awakening /əˈweɪkənɪŋ/ noun
- an act of waking from sleep.
- an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something.
- coming into existence or awareness.
This is where everything begins to change. In order to move through your rock bottom, you begin to reach out for guidance, assistance, clarity. This is where you often (unintentionally) call upon guides, teachers, lovers and soul family who are themselves on a similar path or who've recently walked it. You become more intentional about the connections you seek and the relationships you keep. This becomes your first of a series of upward steps toward wholeness and authentic alignment. Waking up to your truth isn't necessarily easy, but it feels so right that it's impossible to ignore (and the idea of going back to how things used to be seems even less imaginable at this point). Awakening and alignment can come with a tremendous amount of physical symptoms:
unexplained infections, fevers
Your body is cleansing. Your dark night of the soul marks a time of release and transformation - which often needs to manifest in physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms.
This is a time in which you're invited to face your reality rather than continuing to run away or suppress it.
5. Study and Evolution
You are the sum average of the five people you spend the most time with. Dark night of the soul is often marked with a dramatic shift in the people you feel drawn and connected to - which naturally leads to a dramatic shift in mindset, belief structure, life mission. At the other side of your rock bottom, you begin to align with balance, peace, and purpose. These feelings are addictive and survivors of their dark night of the soul often begin a more active pursuit of aligning all facets of their existence with their newly-discovered (or soon to be discovered) life's meanings. This is where you stop acting like a victim to your circumstances are realize you are the creator. You are the author of your life. You become curious and drawn to teachers and guides who can strengthen your newfound understandings. 6. Full-bodied Authenticity and Alignment
Your dark night of the soul comes to a close when you slowly, but systematically, take steps to fully align your life. There is no half-alignment, or part-way. Either you step into your authentic truth or you don't. You arrive on distant, unfamiliar new shores and burn the boats. There is no going back to how life used to be. You step into a deep sense of peace and understanding for yourself, your past, your present and your future. You arrive at a place of wholeness that seemed impossible to achieve. Suddenly life's bigger picture starts to make sense and you become grateful for the lessons you've learned and the wounds you've lovingly tended to and healed over time.
Your perspective on life changes. You turn pain into purpose. Your story becomes your strength. You turn trauma into wisdom and you no longer lean into old patterns of dysfunction and toxicity to survive. Purpose and passion become your North Star. This is often when you start to pursue paths that involve being in service to others rather than empty pursuit of money and tangible goods. How To Navigate Your Dark Night Of The Soul - remember that this is an opportunity for growth, not a punishment or suffering
- remind yourself that this struggle is temporary
- begin to embrace uncertainty and change from a place of trusting the bigger picture
- learn about your ego, your pain body, and your psychological shadows
- find a guide, a mentor - someone who trust who is willing to offer support
- learn about balancing the root chakra to create a deep sense of groundedness and safety
- take time to learn about epigenetics and ancestral trauma to more deeply understand the unseen and unspoken patterns you've spent your life woven into - return to your body - to feel grounded, whole, connected (this can involve body work with a professional, yoga, fitness, even simple walks in nature)
- BREATHE (breathwork as a moving meditation is a powerful way to anchor yourself, tone your trauma-sensitive vagus nerve and de-escalate emotional chaos) - spend more time discovering what brings you sensual (not sexual) pleasure
- learn to recognize your limits and set boundaries to protect them
- take time to study self-care rituals and prioritizing your peace - work on tuning more deeply into your intuition and innate wisdom (you may find spiritual and psychic gifts opening when you do)
- succumb to the illusion that you can control or resist this path - what's for you won't pass you (the good and the less-than-good alike)
- give in to the pressure of addiction and mindless pleasure states - resistance is a key factor in spiritual growth, where we may feel led to activities that numb our emotionally-frazzled state (mindless scrolling on social media, obsessive pursuit of adrenaline states, meaningless sex, bingeing on calorie-dense food, overspending) - this is considered running away from your difficult emotions, which essentially means running away from yourself
- spiritually bypass the situation - don't fall for the illusion that a quick-fix solution which temporarily gives you relief is a green light to ignore all other surfacing emotions or grief
Healing is cyclical and authentic growth is a lifelong process. Honour how far you've come but be acutely aware that the process will continue for as long as you live. When it's over...
When the dark night of the soul ends, expect to feel expansion and relief. You will look around and see the world through different lenses. Things will seem lighter and easier for you. Connections will seem more stable and meaningful. You will feel more connected to your body, your pleasure, and your desires than ever. This period of your life is designed to awaken you to your true purpose - and when that happens, your job is to step into authentic alignment, peace, awareness, and heart-led living that allows for incredible amounts of happiness to permeate your days. Your life will become more purposeful, joyful, abundant and rewarding. When you've arrived, you will feel more at home within yourself. Expanded. More ability to stand in your true nature and gift it to the world. Summing up... When you recognize your difficulty, struggle, and suffering as the dark night of the soul, as the darkest point in your journey to date, practice gratitude. Become intensely aware of all the good that is moving its way into your life and all the toxicity that's becoming more clear to you. As you illuminate your shadows and reflect on your obstacles you'll find it easier and easier to clear the path that is truly meant for you.
There are only two types of people in the world: those who openly discuss their defeat, their suffering, their struggle, their loss, their depths - and those who pretend the darkness doesn't exist. There isn't anyone in this world who hasn't struggled immensely - it's just a matter of what we choose to do with that struggle: suffer? or grow? The depths of the darkness may feel like they will suddenly swallow you whole... but even then, you will return to your body - return to your breath - return to those who love you - and you will survive. And come out more hopeful and whole on the other side.