If you have experienced the dark night of the soul, then I don’t need to explain – you know exactly what I am talking about.
If you have never experienced it, then you are probably just a little bit too young, but your turn will come.
Do you think I am a pessimist? On the contrary. I am not an optimist either – because both optimists and pessimists are not quite balanced. I have learnt to always see the bright side of a crisis, and to always understand that good luck comes with a price. No, I am not cynical. I am fortunate enough to have discovered that the Universe is in complete balance, even when we don’t think so.
Is the dark night of the soul the opposite of Love? No. It precedes the deepest Love you can imagine – truly unconditional Love.
Can you escape the experience? I am afraid not. Even when you make perfect life choices, at some stage life will throw you a curveball – or two – or ten. The rest of your life is determined by how you manage these curve balls.
If you believe in the romantic view of get a good education, find the perfect partner, get married, have talented children and a satisfying job, retire in good health and leave this world in perfect ecstasy, you are in for a rude awakening. You will get to a point in your life where you will lose what you have held precious – and believe that you have lost everything.
You will experience darkness like never before. You will feel that your trusted friends are stabbing you in the back for no reason. Or you will develop health problems that will make you reconsider your lifestyle. Or you will be made redundant at a stage when you can least afford it. Or you will experience too much stress and lose your sanity.
Enough of that stuff – you get the picture.
And then, just when you think you cannot get any lower – and you are probably right – something happens that makes you not only regain your faith in humanity, but it also puts your experience and your losses in a totally different perspective – and you slowly, slowly start to see what it is all about.
It is not punishment for your past decisions. It is not that God has forsaken you when you needed him most. It is not simply bad luck. It is not people who need to be blamed for turning their back on you for no reason and when you need them most.
If that was the case, every butterfly will remain in their cocoon because the sun is too bright, or because it is too cold outside the cocoon, or because there are no butterflies in sight. But the butterfly can only stay in the cocoon and contemplate its navel for so long. Then instinct forces it to start chewing away at the cocoon until the hole is big enough to escape.
And then – you guessed it – the worm is no longer a worm, but a beautiful butterfly that can reproduce and the cycle starts again.
In the same way, every one of us who have experienced the dark night of the soul can look back with immense gratitude – not only because the horrors are over, but also because the sunrise after the experience is not just a once-off. That sunrise lasts for years, and brings calmness and gratitude every day.
For some people the transition is simply into calmness, a different lifestyle, a different career, or other changes that brings forward your potential.
For other people the transition is the challenge they finally needed so that they can prove others wrong, and so that they can finally use their full potential and fulfil their life purpose.
Either way, when you experience your dark night of the soul, trust me, it will and does get better – in ways that you cannot even imagine.
So how can you make things easier for yourself? I will tell you, and you will say but these are practical things, while I am looking for a solution to an existential crisis. Trust me – I have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. Of course, each person needs to find their own perfect path, but that requires a lot of inner work.
Let’s start with the outer work – the more visible stuff that gets you through every day.
Make your bed every morning before you do anything else. If that is the only thing you accomplish today, then congratulate yourself for creating some order.
Honour your body. I am not only talking about shaking off excess weight. Ensure you look after your personal hygiene. Find a way of exercising which works for you and which you can afford. Even if you just walk every day or climb stairs, do it. Eat the freshest food you can afford. Focus on what you eat and determine what works for you and what you should stay away from. And yes, you may not have had problems with different food types in the past, but trust me – when you go through your transition, your body changes. Your food tolerances change. Your hormones change. Listen to your body and fine-tune your diet until you have energy. If you don’t do it, nobody else will do it for you.
Take control of your finances. Ensure you know where every penny comes from and where every penny goes. You would be amazed at how that awareness makes you focus. Plug the holes that deplete your financial energy, and focus on visualising the money you want to see flowing in for you.
And of course, there is the self-talk. How do you deal with that? How do you get that inner voice to stop criticising and to help you on your new journey? Meditation is a good start. Yes, yes, I know that takes time. What can you lose? I also know that the moment you close your eyes to meditate, those horrible thoughts that break down your self-esteem jump at the chance to be in the lime-light. Let them. Give them the limelight, even if it means you set your alarm to only spend a maximum of five minutes meditating every day. You will be surprised, if you focus on your breathing with closed eyes for just five minutes a day, how quickly those pesky thoughts take a hike and make space for the insights and creativity that sets you on your way. If you don’t do it, then the critters remain between your ears and try at every opportunity to take over your awake time and your life.
And what do you do with the friends or family or lovers who walked away from them? Take the high road and thank them for their contribution to your wisdom. Of course, you can fall straight into the traps of blame, vindictiveness, anger, judgement and a few others. What would you achieve with that? The people who caused these emotions have moved on and sleep like babies. You can spend your energy on all that go-low stuff, or you can spend the same energy on going high and simply moving on. And if judgement and other stuff is aimed at you, deflect it by simply not responding. You can be a miserable sod who tells everyone who is willing to listen how people have treated you, or you can simply close the door and move towards the Light – especially when there are children involved. What example do you want to set for your children? Do you want them to carry venom, or to face what life brings their way with courage and fortitude? Such a lovely old-fashioned word – fortitude.
If you feel you need the help of professionals to move on, then get the help – but ensure that the professionals look towards the future and guide you into the Light. If the professional feels their job is to let you contemplate your navel for too long, then cut the ties and move on to more exciting things. Nowadays you don’t necessarily need to pay for professional help. See what you can find on Youtube that is helpful and that inspires you. If it does not resonate with you, move on and continue to search. If it does resonate with you, take the bull by the horns and make the changes that you are growing into.
And probably the bravest, most exciting, most fun thing you can do is to be open to new experiences. Reserve your judgment, and first experience. Of course, you will always have new experiences in physical safety and bearing in mind that your body is a temple of your spirit. That will not spoil your fun – it will simply be a matter of loving and honouring yourself, and following your heart.
One thing I can tell you is that the dark night of the soul is just that – a night. In the greater scheme of things, what may feel to you like a lifetime of agony will not last for ever – and then you are a butterfly and the world and everything around you looks so different.
Blessings to you on your journey – and know that you are Loved.
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I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me. Or maybe it would help that I’m writing this down and telling it to someone, I don’t know. I’m in my early 20’s, female and live in the UK.
I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. About four or five years ago, it was quite debilitating and I found it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork and ended up not attending school very much at all as getting out of bed was such a struggle for me.
Over the last few years though, I’ve found it much more manageable.
However, as we’re entering October, I’m suffering much more than I’ve ever done.
I’m constantly tired and find it too much to concentrate on tasks at work (I work full time as an administration assistant), therefore I fall behind with deadlines.
My sleep pattern is erratic, alternating between not being able to wake up and not being able to get to sleep.
I’m plagued with feelings of despair, as if the world is going to end and have regular panic attacks. I feel tearful or cry at some point every day. I even have a nasty cold sore for the first time in about 7 years.
Aside from my struggling with SAD, I recently came out of a four-year relationship. While the break-up wasn’t acrimonious, we were living together and my ex-boyfriend has now moved out.
I’m trying to adjust to life as a single girl for the first time in four years, but I’m struggling with the fact that I now live alone.
Not only is it lonely and makes me feel somewhat overwhelmed by the thought that it’s just me taking care of myself for once, my income is now, of course, considerably less than before. I can still get by with paying bills and the like, but I’m pinching every penny and it’s leading me to feel worthless and even more depressed.
Now work is also very stressful. Staffing is short and the workload is high and I feel as if I’m running on autopilot.
I’m becoming increasingly concerned that I’m going to burnout or break down, as my daily routine is to get up alone in my flat, head off to work in the ever increasingly darker mornings, work all day in a stressful environment – feeling tired and sluggish, go home to an empty flat, barely be bothered to cook for myself as all I’m craving is junk food that I can’t afford and head to bed early to cry myself to sleep.
I just want some advice as to whether this is just a bad case of SAD or something worse. And what can I do to help minimise my stress?
I just feel trapped and lost.
Thanks for your time.
When things get really stressful, it is time to first look after yourself.
Over the last four weeks I have had some major things to deal with. My god-daughter was born and had to go straight into NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit). Then my sister’s baby was born and also had to go straight into NICU. I got a severe allergic reaction – I still don’t know the cause. Just after that I discovered that my mom has got skin cancer. And yesterday I had another severe allergic reaction and now I need to have tests done.
I have never coped well with stress, and this is just too much for me. As a result my home looks like a disaster area. My grocery shopping is behind. I have missed days at work, and I really care about my job. I have not exercised in weeks – and I love my exercise. I have started to snap at people for the simplest reasons.
What can I do to reduce my stress, or just to relax?
Don't stress about what has not happened yet because if you do, you create your nightmare.
There is a potential lawsuit against me.
While I am waiting for the decision, I am unable to sleep and eat properly, and I just want to stay in bed most of the time.
What can I do to feel better?
If you care about yourself other people will also care about you.
We cannot change the choices our parents make. We can only love them for what they teach us.
I have been diagnosed with social phobia and anxiety by a psychologist who was not able to help me overcome these issues. However, I have decided not to let that put me off.
There was an incident at work with a female colleague who had bullied me for quite a while. One day she just went too far and I threatened to beat her up. Of course I will never lift my hand to a woman, and did not mean it. Unfortunately the woman is related to the manager, who took her side and I lost my job.
I have since had chance meetings with some ex-colleagues who looked at me in a funny way, as if they want to laugh at me but not to my face. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then it happened again and again. This made me believe that they are gossiping about me whenever they can.
I am wondering whether it is possible for gossip to destroy a person’s life. Do you think I should be concerned about what these people say about me behind my back? I know that I live in a large city and I no longer work for this company, but it still bothers me that these people are talking about me and I don’t have an opportunity to defend myself.
I have recently turned 20 and moved out of my parents’ home because I could not stand staying there any longer.
My parents are always fighting about money, but I can see how they cause their own money troubles. My dad has been unemployed for a long time and he smokes weed to relieve his stress. He can come up with the craziest things, and then gets frustrated and embarrassed, which makes it very difficult to speak to him.
My mom has a job that she hates, and she drinks two bottles of wine every night to deal with her stress. I work as a waiter and I have seen people sharing a bottle of wine and having a good time. I can see my mother does not have a good time – she drinks because she does not want to face her problems. When I try to talk to her, she says it is her money and she will do as she pleases.
My sisters dose themselves with prescription drugs and drink and smoke weed. I think they have also already tried crystal meth. I have tried to talk to them but they say if our parents can do it, why can’t they?
I don’t want you to think I am judging them. I have experimented with drugs and weed, but one day I had an experience where I felt God was reaching out to me and I just knew this was not what I wanted in my life. Now I will only take medication if the doctor prescribed it and there is no other way.
Even though I no longer live at home, I am really stressed about my family. Despite everything I love them and I know I can’t change them, but I want the best for them.
Can you help me?