The term “dark night of the soul” refers to a period of intense spiritual, emotional, or existential crisis. It can be a time of profound questioning and evaluation of one’s beliefs, values, and purpose in life. Some common symptoms and signs of going through a dark night of the soul may include:
- Feeling a sense of emptiness or numbness
- Loss of interest in things that used to bring joy or fulfillment
- Intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression
- Questioning the meaning of life, existence, and purpose
- Feeling disconnected from others and oneself
- Spiritual crisis or loss of faith, not as interested in spiritual practices
- Feeling lost, stuck or without direction
- Feeling the need to withdraw from others
- Things may feel like they are collapsing around you as old structures fall away
- Not feeling like yourself
What triggers a dark night?
Major changes such as the loss of a loved one, a job, or a significant relationship can trigger a loss of meaning. Even with changes that you have initiated, you still may feel uncertain about the future. While it may be difficult to see, this time can help you find a new sense of direction and meaning for your life. Going through a dark night of the soul may be the most difficult challenge to face but it can also transform layers of your self in a profound way.
Here are some tips to help you get out of a dark night of the soul:
Take care of yourself! Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. Engage in activities that bring you comfort, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath. Part of self-care is listening to your body and mind. Find a meditative practice you like! Guided meditations, sound baths and breath work can help you relax and recharge.
Listen to what the universe is trying to tell you! There is a reason you are going through this. Underlying a dark night is the subconscious drive to strip away all that is false in your life. Things that need to change, repressed needs and emotions may rise to the surface. Relationships and structures that are outdated may show cracks or literally fall apart. The worst thing you can do is resist any changes the universe is trying to make for you.
Find gratitude in your life. Even during of difficult times, there are things to be grateful for. Make a list of things you are thankful for, such as your health, your relationships, or your pets. Focusing on gratitude can be grounding and help you feel secure during this time.
Setting daily goals for yourself can give you a sense of purpose and direction. This is a strategy I frequently use. Start by setting small but achievable goals for yourself, such as going for a walk every day or reading a chapter of a book. Checking off a few items no matter how small will give you a sense of accomplishment.
Then finally don’t forget to talk to someone. It is important to have the support from loved ones, therapists, or spiritual advisors that will listen and help you understand what you are going through. Even just simply being around another person or a pet can be very helpful! Join a group class or got to a holistic event to find like minded people.
I have experienced the dark night of the soul a number of times. It can be an intense period of pain and confusion. The first time was years ago, after my boyfriend unexpectedly passed away. After the grief and shock passed, I went through a period of total disillusionment, massive turmoil and finally change. The other time was after a voluntary change. I left my career of 15+ years. Positive changes can also lead to a total breakdown in meaning. The entire way I had been functioning, the structures, burnout and needing to deprogram myself from the corporate world, had to completely dissolve before any positive changes could take place. The dark night is a period of purging all that is false in your life in favor of finding your true self. These periods can last a long time but allowing yourself time and space to listen to what your soul needs and being open to change will help you get through it.
*This is not meant t diagnose any conditions if you are struggling with depression or anxiety please see a therapist or a doctor .