Are you in a dark place and wondering if you’re experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul?
Don’t confuse this experience with depression, which happens in the mind. The Dark Night of the Soul is experienced deep in our spirits.
This article explains what it is and its powerful tell-tale symptoms.
What is the Dark Night of the Soul?
Let’s start with a definition of the Dark Night of the Soul from someone who’s been there and has written extensively about all things spirituality.
Enter Eckhart Tolle, the author of bestselling mindfulness book, The Power of Now. He says:
“It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level. The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies. Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.”
Essentially, the Dark Night of the Soul is a rupture in what you gave meaning and it makes you question your very existence. It’s the collapse of meaning.
But the good news from experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul? Eckhart says: “Quite often it’s from there that people awaken out of their conceptual sense of reality, which has collapsed.”
It is a chance for a reframing and a rebirth, where positives come from it.
However, it might not seem like it in the time when your conceptual framework of the world collapses.
If you’re reading this, chances are you think you or someone close to you is going through the Dark Night of the Soul.
Read on to learn the powerful symptoms that will confirm this.
1) Loss of meaning and purpose
As Eckhart explains from his personal experience, a deep sense of meaninglessness is central to the Dark Night of the Soul.
There are many reasons we can have a shattering sense of losing meaning and purpose in our lives.
It could be something seemingly small to others but incredibly significant to you, or something very clearly tragic.
It might be that you placed meaning on the things that didn’t matter before – and now that you’ve stripped things back and taken them away, you’re wondering what really does matter.
It might be that you based your identity on the place you lived, the person you dated and the friends you spent time with – only to lose all of those things at one by moving away.
You might have placed worth on having a swanky job title and earning a certain amount of month but, since becoming more spiritual, you’ve recently decided to reevaluate what matters and ditched some things.
I can think of someone I know who used to be a banker, but they decided to become a primary school teacher because they reassessed what was important to them. They wanted out from the rat race and to give something back. It made sense in theory, yet the only problem was that the primary school teaching job didn’t seem to hit the mark either, and it caused a lot of stress to this person.
They found themselves feeling really lost and questioning their purpose and this sent them into a spiral of depression. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do and they felt completely lost.
Now: I tell you this because it’s just one example of an event that can send you into a spiral of darkness.
There are countless others, including my own:
I broke up with my long-term boyfriend last summer after five years together through our twenties. I’d lived in the flat we shared for two years and built up friends in the area, and I tied my identity to the place I lived and the similar people that lived nearby.
When we broke up, I didn’t intend on shaking up my entire world and identity, which was pretty naive as that’s exactly what happened.
By moving out of the area (even though I’d initially thought it would be temporary), I distanced myself from friends that I would catch up with regularly, and I lost all of my daily anchor points like my local coffee shop and my gym. These might sound really trivial, but they were important to me and they contributed to my sense of self.
If you heard my internal monologue, it would go something like:
‘I am someone who drinks coffee at this place and says hello to this person every day, and I’m someone who does yoga at this spot on a Sunday.’
Suddenly, being without all of these anchor points and back at my mum’s house, I found myself spiraling into a dark place. I was questioning who I was when I was without all of the external things that formed my identity.
The break-up was hard enough itself, but the loss of all of the things that I thought made up me meant it was even harder. Having spoken to other people, I understand this amount of change is quite normal after a breakup – but it felt like I was the only person to have ever experienced this.
Back at my mum’s as I wept and started processing the breakup, I fell into a dark place.
I knew I was experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul when I literally couldn’t see the meaning in anything.
My mum told me that this time in my life was about finding courage and I remember crying out: ‘what’s courage good for?’. I couldn’t see through the clouds; everything seemed pointless for me.
What does this mean for you?
If this sounds like what you’re experiencing, it could be you’re just navigating the Dark Night of the Soul.
And the good news?
You’ll get through it with a new perspective. It just takes time.
Trust that the Universe has a plan for you that’s even greater than you imagined.
2) You feel unmotivated and lazy
Have you noticed a change in your attitude towards things – are you being much lazier than usual and feeling unmotivated to cease the day?
Do you sometimes think: what’s the point in getting up? What’s the point in anything?
This is a powerful symptom that suggests you’re going through the Dark Night of the Soul. Think it sounds like depression?
It’s not always.
In a blog post for a retreat programme, recovering addict Bethany explains that the Dark Night of the Soul often gets mistaken for clinical depression.
Why? She says:
“The Dark Night Of The Soul reaches into the core of your being and fills you with an agonizing form of sadness. It seems to come out of nowhere and it feels like it is never going to leave. It mimics all the symptoms of depression. You may be experiencing some of these “symptoms”.”
- Extreme sadness with no explanation as to why you are sad
- Uncontrollable crying
- A feeling of emptiness
- Loss of motivation in activities you once enjoyed
If you turn to a psychologist for support, you’re only going to get so far as they believe the problem is in your head. Most likely, they’ll try and ‘cure’ you with antidepressant tablets.
Truth is: the root cause of the problem is in your soul and you’re undergoing a painful spiritual transformation.
The signs I’m revealing in this article will give you a good idea about the Dark Night of the Soul.
But could you get even more clarity by speaking to a gifted advisor?
Clearly, you have to find someone you can trust. With so many fake experts out there, it’s important to have a pretty good BS detector.
After going through a messy break up, I recently tried Psychic Source. They provided me with the guidance I needed in life, including who I am meant to be with.
I was actually blown away by how kind, caring, and genuinely helpful they were.
A gifted advisor can not only tell you whether you’re going through the Dark Night of the Soul, but they can also reveal all your love possibilities.
3) You want to withdraw from social relationships
A tell-tale sign of the Dark Night of the Soul is that you’re feeling isolated, yet you simultaneously withdraw from social relationships.
You might feel like nobody is there for you and nobody cares for you, while you actively don’t respond to people or bother making contact in the first place.
I have first-hand experience with this and it’s something I’m still working through. Since leaving the area I lived in with my long-term partner, I’ve been without my routine of seeing friends regularly. I can’t just pop down the road for a coffee or go to a fitness class with them.
Not only that, but I withdrew digitally too as I came back to my mum’s place.
For a long time, I didn’t feel like I had anything positive to say or anything positive to share, so I went mute on chats and social media.
I’ve now slowly started making contact again and an effort to see people, but I’m inconsistent and I still struggle to make meetups actually happen. Even a phone call can feel like too much as I fear I’m too negative.
I sometimes wonder how I’ll explain my circumstances and fear the judgment.
In all honesty, I think I might still be going through the Dark Night of the Soul – but I know I’m coming out of the other side and gaining a new perspective.
For example, while I have some friends who have messaged and tried to meet up with me over the past six months, I realize there are others that only I text and sometimes never hear back from. Some of these friends I’ve even gone to meet up with only to have them cancel on the day. It’s shown me who’s really there for me and who really cares. It’s weeded out the decent friends from the phonies.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re experiencing the desire to retreat from your social relationships, know this is just a temporary phase and it doesn’t have to be your reality forever.
You’ll even come out with a new perspective and learn something new about yourself and your true network of loyal people.
Remember, the people you want in your life will be accepting of you in all forms – including the good, the bad and the ugly.
4) You feel the need to downsize your life
Another symptom that suggests you’re going through the Dark Night of the Soul is that you have an overwhelming desire to want to downsize your life.
By this, I mean you want to purge yourself of your material possessions.
You want to sell or give away most of your things, and strip your life back.
It’s valid to note that our possessions hold memories and so letting go of them is truly a form of release and purging – it’s an act of letting go and clearing space.
Just like we cleanse our homes with palo santo and sage, and we wash our bodies with water and soap, through chucking out possessions we are decluttering our minds and simplifying our lives.
It’s not a bad exercise to do regularly, but if this urge has come on suddenly and it feels really extreme it may be that you’re going through the Dark Night of the Soul.
In my experience, when I moved back to my mum’s I shoved most of my belongings from my flat in her spare room and I left them there for almost six months.
I couldn’t bear to look at the boxes of clothes, books and items that reminded me of the flat and our relationship. I remember breaking down when I picked up a tote bag as I visualized the door it used to hang on in the flat and how I would grab it each day on the way out.
Everything was too triggering for a long time, but then came a shift in the healing process.
I decided I was ready to tackle the room and to start getting rid of the things. Of course, this was after I hugged these items, and removed and reuploaded the product listings, doubting whether I could part with them.
It was cathartic when I eventually parted with many of the items that belonged to my ex-partner or those which he had given me.
I knew deep down that I would be rewarded by the Universe by clearing and making space. It’s true: I’ve felt an energy shift within myself since parting with these things.
It’s common with the Dark Night of the Soul that you re-examine all manner of aspects of your life, so it’s natural your possessions are scrutinized and reexamined.
There’s something else I want to add:
Earlier, I mentioned how helpful the advisors at Psychic Source were when I was facing relationship troubles.
Although there’s much we can learn about a situation from articles like this, nothing can truly compare to receiving a personalized reading from a gifted person.
From giving you clarity on the situation to supporting you as you make life-changing decisions, these advisors will empower you to make decisions with confidence.
5) You’re not interested in activities you used to love
Now: this is a bit like the first symptom of feeling like life is meaningless combined with the symptom of feeling lazy.
If you’re experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul, what might happen is that you’re overcome with feeling a disinterest in the activities you used to love.
Make a list of the activities and hobbies you’ve found pleasure in and examine why these are no longer a part of your life if they’re not today.
Can you pinpoint why you’re not interested?
If not, it sounds like you’re going through the Dark Night of the Soul.
Create the intention to slowly start introducing activities that can bring some joy to help shift you out from the darkness, but remember that to overcome the Dark Night of the Soul it is essential to surrender and trust the process.
Give yourself permission to be where you’re at and intentionally go out and pick up the activities again when you’re ready. This will give you something to aim for and look forward to, which is sometimes enough.
As someone who has experienced the Dark Night of the Soul, Bethany, who I spoke about earlier, explains that giving herself permission to be was one of the most valuable actions she took on her journey.
She worked with the mantra “you’re right where you are supposed to be”, which is one of my all-time favorites to help me center and find my calm.
In her Dark Night of the Soul survival guide, Bethany explains that it will most likely be a hard concept for you to embrace when you’re in the midst of the darkness. But she says:
“The pain and agony of the experience is all-consuming. This will lead you to believe that you should do everything in your power to escape it. Just remember that your pain has a purpose.”
Personally, I think this is true about every situation in life and a great lesson to take forward.
6) You are hopeless about your situation ever changing
By now, you know a bit about my personal circumstances that include living back with my mum because of my break up.
It was always supposed to be temporary and it still is.
However, there is still a voice that says ‘what are you doing’ and ‘you’re stuck here forever’.
It obscures reality and puts pressure on me unnecessarily, when there are so many positives to being here. For example, it’s given me space and time to think, and it’s meant that I’ve got to know my family as an adult.
That said, still I can feel hopeless about my situation ever changing and find myself rumanting on whether this is now my reality forever.
I know one day I’ll look back and think that I wasted so much energy worrying when it would’ve been much easier to settle into my circumstances.
If it sounds like you’re going through a similar mode of thinking, you too could be working through the Dark Night of the Soul.
We’ve covered the symptoms that might suggest you’re experiencing this spiritual phenomena, but if you want to get a completely personalized explanation of this situation and where it’ll lead you in the future, I recommend speaking to the folks over at Psychic Source.
I mentioned them earlier on. When I got a reading from them, I was blown away by how kind and genuinely helpful they were.
Not only can they give you more direction on the Dark Night of the Soul, but they can advise you on what’s really in store for your future.
7) You become aware of mortality
As you go through the Dark Night of the Soul and become more in touch with your spirituality through confronting the pain of your soul, you’ll likely become more aware of mortality.
This is something I also have personal experience with.
It’s also not only your own mortality that you’ll start thinking about but the mortality of others, which might see you grieve deaths that haven’t happened yet.
I found myself doing this extensively – trying to feel the pain of what it will be like to lose my siblings and parents, and wondering when our time will be up.
Simply put: I caused myself unnecessary pain and suffering for events that hadn’t happened yet. I preempted how I might feel, after becoming acutely aware of mortality.
These thought show someone who isn’t living in the present moment – instead, it’s worrying from the fear-based future. Having experienced the Dark Night of the Soul, I now see the importance of being in the present moment and surrendering to it.
This goes back to a concept I briefly mentioned earlier by Eckhart Tolle. His book is all about mindfulness and the importance of living in the present moment to find happiness – I recommend reading it to help you on your Dark Night of the Soul journey.
Just remember, the Dark Night of the Soul isn’t forever and you’ll come out of the experience stronger. It might be for a few weeks, months or even years, but you’ll eventually come out the other side.
But I get it, being present can be hard, especially if you’re new to this idea.
If that’s the case, I highly recommend watching this free breathwork video, created by the shaman, Rudá Iandê.
Rudá isn’t another self-professed life coach. Through shamanism and his own life journey, he’s created a modern-day twist to ancient healing techniques.
The exercises in his invigorating video combine years of breathwork experience and ancient shamanic beliefs, designed to help you relax and check in with your body and soul.
After many years of suppressing my emotions, Rudá’s dynamic breathwork flow quite literally revived that connection.
And that’s what you need:
A spark to reconnect you with your feelings so that you can begin focusing on the most important relationship of all – the one you have with yourself.
So if you’re ready to say goodbye to anxiety and stress, check out his genuine advice below.