How to Survive a Dark Night of the Soul

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Think of the dark night of the soul as mother nature’s way of transforming your life into something more magical; it is akin to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The caterpillar must first feel disoriented, as it literally metamorphoses into something unknown, shedding it's skin and changing shape, all for the purpose of transforming into what it was always meant to be. The same is true for humans. The spiritual journey is comprised of a series of deaths and rebirths. As you continue to meditate, pray, and become conscious, your beliefs, thoughts about your identity, and even the people in your life begin to shift.

While a dark night of the soul can look different, depending on if it involves the falling away of a relationship, the dissolution of a belief, or an identity crisis, the root of it is the same: You are thrown into a state of chaos, of uncertainty, for the sole purpose of the evolution of your consciousness, meaning, the expansion of your awareness and perception.

These dark nights, can literally last one night, or can go on for Longer stretches of time, are exceptionally painful, As it involves letting go of something you’ve held to be true, and usually, it was taken from you rather quickly (such as the loss of a job, or someone leaving your life abruptly). Dark nights come when unexpectedly, and it’s normal to feel like you’re not ready, that you’d rather hold onto the relationship, or the belief, even if it isn’t serving your highest good. Clinical psychologist Jordan B. Petersen describes the dark night in his book 12 Rules for Life, saying, “It’s the journey to that place each of us goes when things fall apart, friends and family are distant, hopelessness and despair reign, and black nihilism beckons.”

The truth is, though, that what comes in their wake is rebirth and newness, and so while it can feel horrible, it’s for your own good. Dark nights are a sign of awakening. Basically, you are shedding part of yourself - the part you picked up in childhood, from society, or from a karmic loop that is being played out. You are shedding a pattern or a story that is no longer serving you. For example, you might have a pattern of attracting mates who remind you of dysfunctional versions of love that mimic your parents’ relationship. Subconsciously, you’ve learned that love is synonymous with abandonment, arguing, or trying to fix someone. Subconsciously, you think we’re not good enough, and that plays out in overeating, spending too much money, or attracting partners who can’t reciprocate love. You’ve been stuck in this pattern your entire life, and so you’re not even aware of it.

And then you wake up.

You become conscious - aware of your egoic self (the identity you’ve constructed, the voice in your head that tells you that you’d be happier if you were thinner, smarter, and had a higher salary). You become aware of your negative patterns: deep-rooted self-hatred, pains you’ve never healed from childhood, and grievances you’ve never forgiven.

Subsequently, your beliefs crumble. The relationship you’re in that’s not healthy ends, out of the blue. You realize that you picked your profession out of fear, and it becomes obvious that you no longer have anything in common with your circle of friends. During a dark night of the soul, it can feel like you are going through an exorcism. Some part of you is dying, and it is, quite literally, painful.

But here’s the key: Rejoice and celebrate that you are releasing what is no longer serving you, because it is making room for the new. If your relationship is ending, you’ll have space for someone in alignment with your highest good. If your career is crumbling, it’s making space for you to pursue your passion. If you don’t know who you are, or what you want to do in your life, it’s clearing space for you to figure it out.

While it hurts, know that you can get through it. You would not be going through such a challenging time if you couldn’t handle it. Just know that everything will be okay and surrender. Be willing to release anything that life wants to take from you with ease and grace. Don’t resist it, and certainly don’t try to convince that partner who wants to leave or boss who wants to push you out of the company that it’s not a good idea. Be willing to let go. The way to survive a dark night of the soul is to surrender your will to God. You do no know of all of the blessings and miracles that are lined up in your future. Divine connections and opportunities are on their way, but you have to make space for them. You must let go of who you think you are to become the person you are meant to be.