A 10 Step Survival Guide for The Dark Night of the Soul
“In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God” St John of the Cross
It is the foundation upon which every aspect of our world is built.
Family. Society. Education. Industry. Commerce, Judiciary. Government.
You get the idea.
And like cogs on a wheel, your outer ‘public’ face is made up of grooves - the labels and ‘approved’ personal characteristics, traits and hats you wear, that synchronise perfectly with these external 'wheels', and keep you in good standing in the world.
But, here’s the thing…
On their own, these external structures hold you to a limited view of yourself and way of being, in exchange for the validation, approval and longing, most of us subliminally crave.
They overlook to a large extent the unique individual you are. And from personal experience and the past 15 years of working closely with clients, here is what I have come to know:
As self-aware human beings, we are connected to a higher intelligence. Some call it Source, Universe, collective consciousness, and still others, God.
Your connection with higher intelligence is the means through which you are able to access your innate intuition, gifts, skills and information - the stamp that makes you, YOU.
Being able to express these fully and uncensored by life’s external structures is what ultimately enables you to feel truly happy, successful and fulfilled.
And that is not to say that you should disregard familial, societal or cultural modes and norms. Rather, I believe that it can only positively impact your happiness and wellbeing levels when you can identify and embrace your enormity and uniqueness, beneath the status quo.
So what does ‘structure’ have to do with the dark night of the soul? The answer is absolutely everything.
There are 2 major contributing factors to a dark night of the soul:
When an individual 1) is not cognisant of themselves as distinct individuals from the external labels and constructs that qualify and give meaning to their lives, and 2) has not been getting their deep, soul-level needs met, life in collaboration with this higher intelligence will often orchestrate the perfect set of conditions to awaken them to a greater appreciation of their inherent importance, complexity, depth, desires and needs.
These can take the shape of powerful life events such as divorce, bereavement, redundancy, childbirth, relocation, trauma or a health-scare to name a few.
The dark night of the soul is just that - an unexpected collapse of your identity and understanding of life in relation to external labels and constructs, that plunges you into a deep, frightening darkness - an inner spiritual crisis, if you will.
Many people who are going through a dark night of the soul report feeling like a stranger to themselves, like they are free falling, find it difficult to focus and make even the smallest of decisions. They no longer feel connected with the activities, people, places and things they once were. They don’t know what they want or what will make them happy anymore.
The overwhelming darkness describes the vast inner landscape they find themselves traversing when the established frameworks of their lives, and how these once made them feel safe, important, accepted and loved have fallen away.
If you are recognising that you have been trying to navigate your own dark night of the soul, here is a life raft that can help you get to the other side. Each step that you implement on my my 10 step survival guide, can feel like a patch of dry land when you've been adrift on stormy seas.
- Know that there is an important reason you are having this experience. Life is asking you to seriously consider and reevaluate the path you have been on.
- Identify your soul-level needs which haven’t been getting met.
- Be open to an expanded understanding of who you are and what you are meant to be doing with your life.
- Consider that courage, self-trust and unwavering determination are what will get you through - even when the path ahead seems hazy and unclear.
- Be gentle and loving with yourself with as much self-care as possible and by honouring your intuition and non-negotiable needs.
- Journal and try to establish a daily meditation or physically grounding routine. This will help you get connected to yourself and your truth.
- Don’t be afraid to share what you’re going through and enlist the support of a trusted confidante, mentor or friend.
- Think in baby steps and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Acknowledge the darkness but keep looking ahead.
- Take an inventory of what you’ve been doing, neglecting, accepting, compromising on etc that doesn’t serve you. As soon as you feel ready and able, commit to letting these situations and/or relationships go.
- Ask yourself: “What is the old view of myself that life is asking me to let go of, and what are the qualities and strengths it is asking me to embody and become?”