The “dark night of the soul” happens when we collapse under the pressure of various sources, including the pressure we have placed upon ourselves.
The collective pressure is caused by the weight of our denied and repressed emotions, and our inability or refusal to connect with our core selves.
It occurs when we have been navigating a dark labyrinth, and we have no choice but to finally admit we are lost. We are then handed a mirror so that we can take a long, hard, and difficult look at ourselves while we watch our reflection crumble.
It is a war with many battles, as we are confronting our ego and the ego does not back down without a fight.
“The birth of the Self is always a defeat for the ego.” ~ Carl Jung
Anyone who has experienced a dark night of the soul will likely describe it is a painful catalyst that forces us to catapult in a new direction.
We look at the fear, heartache, pain, dysfunction, loneliness, isolation, trauma, obsession, abandonment, desires, frustrations, and resentments that our ego has been governing.
We come to a moment of pure surrender when a deafening shrill articulates that it is time to face the truth of who we are and to explore the meaning of our lives. If we try to suppress the emotions, they will magnify, linger, and haunt us, and they will continue to simmer on the surface, making their presence known and becoming so unbearable that we have no choice but to acknowledge them.
Usually, we reach this critical stage when we are burnt out, at rock bottom, or a part of our lives has collapsed and we have no other way to climb but upward. We are at the extreme end of darkness, and we look at everything that brought us to this place and stand in utter desperation and self-pity.
It can seem like we have everything to lose, though the reality is the opposite. Often, we reach this point after a period of spiritual growth or a phase where everything we once thought was true and secure shatters.
It is the cusp of a huge transformation. In order to go forward, we must let go of everything that is holding us captive.
It is a time of ego life or death, and this part of our journey isn’t always pretty. We have reached a point where we need to let go of everything that is superficial, that has no meaning, that has been weighing us down, and basically everything that prevents us from reaching a state of mindful awareness that can lead to a profound understanding of life, our souls, and our highest potential.
We may find we need to remove people or situations from our life that we once believed were important. Eradicating parts of our life that we are familiar with can be grueling, even if the aspects were doing us harm.
At the time, we may have felt these parts were an essential part of our personality or we may just be having difficulty accepting that our previous or current lives were not all that they seemed. When we realize it is time to change, it can shock us to the core and we may try to grasp to parts that were not healthy or serving us well.
However, we need to let go of who we thought we were, and all that anchors us, so we can become who we are meant to be.
During this process, it can seem as though everyone we know misunderstands and deserts us just when we believe we need them most. This is because many of the people around us have grown comfortable and secure being around who we once were, and they become unsure of who we are now and who we are going to become.
People may try to hold us back or pull us down by belittling, condemning, or criticizing this new version of ourselves in an attempt to keep us on the old frequency that resonated more harmoniously with their own wave length.
It can be tempting to allow this to happen, as we do not want conflict; however, our personal growth is essential in achieving and maintaining inner peace, harmony, joy, and a sound sense of well-being.
As we change, other people’s attitudes toward us change as our vibration magnetically attracts or repels people, or their vibration attracts or repels ours. Relationships with family, friends, and loved ones can be tested; if someone has not been through this life-changing experience, they may have difficulty accepting how we are altering and changing.
We often find we lose people we once held dear, as they no longer recognize us or we no longer recognize them. Although we may feel recklessly abandoned and alone, it is through our loneliness that we start to see with clarity who we are and where we are journeying.
Our isolation and abandonment is simply our refusal to appreciate and accept that we are already intertwined with everyone and everything; we never need to touch, own, or hold anything to prove the connection exists.
Loneliness is a gift that teaches through aches and pains that we have mentally and emotionally separated ourselves from others.
Our loneliness transitions and opens a path toward peaceful solitude, and from there we can discover genuine, heart-centered connections.
The “dark night” asks us to let go of self-damning thoughts and beliefs, and although we may be afraid to lose the attachment to who we once thought we were, we know it is essential that we also let go of our attachment to suffering and pain.
In journeying to our inherent selves, we awaken to the understanding that every person, place, and situation was in our lives for a purpose and for our individual spiritual growth.
One of the biggest realizations we have when we escape the dark night of the soul is that the whole thing was just an illusion created by our minds—and our ego is an illusion too.
Our ego created this whole illusion so we could avoid dealing with our inner selves. It is far easier to relate to an alter ego that we attach idealistic images to rather than face up to who we actually are.
The dark night removes the delusions that caused us to believe that who we were and what we experienced up until then was all “reality.” The truth is, there is no reality when we are presenting a false “ego” to the world. While we do, no one can possibly truly know who we are, and we cannot fully connect or have clarity with anyone or anything.
The ego masked our ability to view the truth about anything internally or externally.
We begin to see the ego had been tricking us all along, and just like the dark night of the soul, everything that existed in our minds was just our ego’s perception.
Our imagination can feel far more real than reality itself. Therefore, whatever our minds are processing becomes our unique reality. Knowing this empowers us to choose what we put into our minds and to understand that we have absolute control of how we are thinking, feeling, and what we choose to see and believe.
When we accept ourselves as we are—and not who our imagined ego tried to tell us we were—we can eventually allow ourselves to just be. And we locate the fastest way out of the dark night so we can head toward the light.
Instead of rejecting our shadow side, we can embrace and accept it as part of our self and as part of humanity as a whole. This opens us up to acceptance, oneness, and unconditional love.
Ultimately, the dark night of the soul awakens us to our true purpose and our highest potential.
Author: Alex Myles
Image: Flickr/Sarah Zucca
Editor: Travis May