Life over the last four years has at times been gruelling for myself and many others in my circle. Many of us have broken down, then broken through. In some cases, including my own – first in 2012, then again towards the end of the last year – a “dark night of the soul” took place.
“Dark night of the soul” means different things to different people. To me, it means a complete crisis of confidence. It doesn’t always mean depression; but rather a depressed state, where energy is low, life has lost its lustre and it’s difficult to find meaning.
It can be a questioning of everything you’ve ever known about yourself. What is true and what no longer holds? Your personal and professional status; relationships; friendships… all are held under a magnifying glass.
Some even question their reason for being. Fortunately, my appreciation of my life purpose was one of the things I had to hold on to. I feel it got me through my own dark night less painfully than might otherwise have been. There was also a book that I and thousands of others have found helpful: ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brené Brown, a research professor and vulnerability and shame expert.
A dark night of the soul can, in many cases, be triggered by traumatic life events, such as a bereavement, breakup or redundancy. I myself have experienced all of these circumstances. Now I specialise in coaching professional clients (at a point after they’ve been through the early grieving process and received specialist support). I help them to release residual pain that remains following such traumas.
It’s not good for us to hang on to pain. We have to learn how to let go in order to heal. Most of us will experience it at some point in our lives and from my personal observations, it seems to happen from late 30s onwards. In fact, I wonder how many times it’s been referred to as a mid-life crisis, instead of the transformational process that it really is.
Emerging from the dark night like a butterfly from a chrysalis
The dark night of the soul is a bereavement of sorts itself. It’s the death of the ego, a stripping away of your inner layers, bit by bit. It hurts! And much as I hate to break it to you, you have to work through the pain. The process can last days, months, even years. There’s no fast-track way to end this journey.
I want to let you know that it’s worth it. Like the caterpillar that crawls into its cocoon, you will digest yourself, breaking down your component parts. Some of those parts of you will remain and morph into something new. You will even develop imaginal discs: parts of you that may or may not be revealed throughout your life.
You’ll eventually emerge from your chrysalis of doom and gloom. Tentatively, you’ll flap your new, wet wings. It will take you time to practice flying, but you will fly sooner or later, I promise!
The Bright Side
The dark night of the soul happens for a reason. You’ve started to understand what really matters to you, even if it’s simply by reflecting on what doesn’t matter.
As you start to get used to this raw, new version of you, you will start to feel part of something much, much bigger. Trivial matters won’t bother you as they once did, because you’ve been through the worst that you can imagine.
The concept of love will also start to extend out from your inner circle to embrace more and more people. You become more compassionate. Hell, you even start to feel forgiveness for people you felt had wronged you in the past (P.S. This doesn’t mean you should take back that toxic ex or meet a former bitchy friend for coffee)!
If you’re currently going through this process, I hope my blog helped and I’m sending my love to you. If you’ve already been through it, I hope that it resonated. Now go shine!
A bit about me:
I’ve experienced many setbacks in life, from bereavements, redundancy, breakups and money worries. Something shifted in me following a friend’s suicide a few years ago – it led to my first experience of a dark night of the soul. After a period of grieving and reflection, I decided that it was time to change and I started on a journey of self-discovery.
I now want to share the tools and techniques that transformed my own life with you. Using my deep intuition, tons of life experience and professional skills, I create a safe, open environment for clients to learn and try things for themselves. Read more about my signature coaching programme, LOVE (You) here.