Spiritual Awakening

The Dark Night of the Soul Part 2: How to get through it.

The Dark Night of the Soul is an intense emotional period that forces you to deal with the baggage, patterns and behaviors that are keeping you stagnant. I have explained this more deeply in part 1, along with some signs to know it is happening to you. My hope with part 2 is to share some practical tips for dealing with it when it does come up, and as we try to better ourselves and be the best person we can be, it most certainly will. It is certainly nothing to be afraid of, but embraced and valued as the vehicle that will help change our lives. I know it certainly has changed mine.

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  1. Acceptance: This means accepting and surrendering to what is and what was. This will allow you to stop fighting against your own head and heart and begin to sift through events and emotions that linger. It is time to stop pretending we are ok and everything is fine and just be in the emotion. We don’t have to shout it from the rooftops, just accept it within ourselves and work with it. The first step to moving past something is to accept it. It was probably the hardest, yet most liberating step for me as I was always the one who was ok. I never wanted to cause a fuss or ‘rock the boat’. Accepting that I was not ok, within myself, allowed me to drop the heavy weight of responsibility I had somehow managed to take on for myself and move forward. I didn’t have to be ok for anybody. I just had to be. Acceptance is the first step that opens up the others and makes them possible. It is also about accepting our lives and relationships as they are. I first had to accept that I had an absentee father, before I could move through the healing process that is the dark night and forgive (see step 3 below) him for not having the tools to be the father I needed. Accept that your family is dysfunctional or your relationship is failing or you life isn’t what you want it to be. Acceptance allows things to heal.
  2. The only way out is through: As much as I tried, I couldn’t just drop the emotion behind me and forget about it. I had been trying to do that all my life, and it got me nowhere. Nowhere I wanted to be anyway. We can’t cut it off, dissolve it with white light and love, melt it with visualizations of fire or lava. We have to sit with the emotions and give them space. Cry. Scream. Punch a pillow. Whatever. Just giving ourselves permission to feel them and the space to release them is all that is needed. Journaling also helps tremendously. It allowed me to gather my thoughts and see more clearly what was going on and the patterns and origins emerged more clearly. They key here is ONE at a time! I had to learn this the hard way. Be patient with yourself as you move through this and deal with one emotion/event/issue at a time. The onion analogy might seem like a cliché, but it is far from it.
  3. Forgiveness: of yourself and others. This doesn’t mean it’s ok what happened or that we’ll let it happen again, just that it no longer defines us or rules our lives. Accept, learn, forgive and walk away. We also have to forgive ourselves: for not knowing better at the time; for making mistakes; for hanging on far too long. A big part of this is compassion, but that also comes with time. For me, forgiving myself was the first step to forgiving others. If it is true about love – to love another you must first love yourself – then it is true for forgiveness too.
  4. Seek help: Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. A *friend is great, but we often sugar coat things out of fear of hurting them – especially if they are part of the problem. Talking to an unbiased third party can help us to uncover more about ourselves as we are free to speak our truth, 100%. See a counselor or psychologist. Try kinesiology or NLP. See a reiki practitioner or crystal therapist. Try aromatherapy or homeopathy or naturopathy. Read articles such as this, or watch YouTube clips or documentaries. Sometimes just knowing we are not alone is enough to help get us through. Personally, I avoided pharmaceutical drugs, because I feel they only mask the symptoms and don’t get to the cause, but don’t be afraid to consider it. I did, but didn’t like the side effects, but I know they are there if I need them. Just be willing to ask for and accept help and be open to all possibilities. We are all different and what works for someone else may not work for you, so try a variety of things and do what does work for you.
  5. Withdraw: It is ok to give ourselves time away from the world, time alone, to say no to things. Explain as much or as little as you like, just give yourself permission to say ‘no’. If you have demanding job or kids, it might be hard, but even a 30 minute walk outside is enough, as long as you are not inundated with meaningless noise and able to look within. It is vital that we spend as much time with ourselves as we can. This was particularly hard for me as I was always the person who put herself out for others, always saying yes to things I really wanted to say no to. I didn’t want to upset the other person by saying no, and had a miserable time doing so! Now, I realize it is vital that I learn to say no and honour where I am at that point in time. I put this one last as it is the one that we need to continue after the dark night is over. Once we emerge from the fog and darkness, we are totally different to the people we were when we entered and we need to give ourselves time to assimilate the changes and get to know ourselves again. This will help us to re-centre and recharge after we emerge back into the world and keep us connected to who we really are. Remember to be gentle with yourself here too. If you do find old patterns coming up, just remind yourself that you are no longer that person, forgive yourself and move forward. These things take time, so allow yourself to make a few mistakes along the way, just don’t go back!

The one thing we must not do during this process is ignore it, try to push it aside or even hurry it along.

Have patience with yourself.

This too shall pass.

 

*Your friendships may change and you might lose people during this process. Frankly, let them go. If they don’t support you and love you unconditionally, then they aren’t serving you anyway. Let them go, mourn their loss, but keep moving forward. Now you will have room in your life for new friends to enter, one who are more aligned with who you are now, your true kindred spirits. Release with love and welcome with love.

Spiritual Awakening

The Dark Night of the Soul Part 1: How to recognise it

The dark night of the soul is an intensely emotional period in your life that forces you to acknowledge and release your emotional baggage. You will be forced to face all of those negative emotions that have been weighing you down and preventing you evolving into your true self. It is a time to ‘heal and deal’ as I like to say, to release what is holding you back and no longer serving your greatest and highest good.

Unfortunately the name is a misnomer. Don’t expect it to occur in just one night. It can take weeks, months and even years depending on your level of resistance. Mine took the better part of 18 months to move through and I am still settling into things. I lost many friendships and relationships during this time, and afterwards. A lot of it occurred by simply facing my family situation as it is. It might look like the Brady Bunch on paper, but it is far from it. It’s hard to realize that who you thought of as family don’t necessarily feel the same towards you. My Dark Night was one of the hardest periods of my life, but gods it was worth it! Even with all the loss, and all the assimilating still to come, I feel so much better about me and my life. It’s certainly worth it.

So, how do you know you are going through it? How do you know you’re on the verge? When do you know you are done? I am hoping that the following list will help you to recognize this, because acceptance and recognition is often the first step towards healing. And it also helps to understand what is going on so you don’t end up committing yourself!

  1. Heightened Emotions: This for me was a nice little cocktail of anxiety, sadness and anger. Whatever it is for you, it will be hard for you to ignore these emotions any longer. They will be deeper and stronger than ever before and you might find yourself in situations where they break the dam you have built around them and overflow at inappropriate times. It is perfectly acceptable to park them, but it is not ok to leave them. Come back to them later, accept them and feel them. You don’t necessarily have to work out where they came from, but it often helps – it did for me. What was I sad about? Who was I angry at? What was I anxious about? Oddly, once I realized who I was angry at I also realized that I was chucking myself a nice little tantrum at spirit. I was angry at them for not giving me what I wanted, when and how I wanted it. Again, the origin or cause doesn’t matter, simply that you accept them and work through them. It is time to stop ignoring them and building that wall. Take it down one brick at a time and release the emotions behind it to the universe for healing. You do not need to carry them anymore.darknight2
  2. People from the past come back into your life: and they will often bring with them the old emotions associated with them. If it is an ex-partner, old school bully, or family member, be aware of what emotions and patterns they are triggering. This is coming up to be healed, so allow it and think back to the first sign. This happened for me a few times, but most notably when I found out my ex-boyfriend had married my best friend’s childhood friend. They had everything I wanted – the house, the marriage (with or without the paper) and the child, and I was still wandering around childless and newly single… again… talk about feeling unworthy! Still, it triggered something in me that was aching to be healed. Acknowledge what it is and do the work. It is totally worth it.
  3. Nothing feels right anymore: not your job, your car, your house, your friends, your favourite TV show, your favourite hobby. You may not know what makes you happy, where previously you did. This will come with a feeling of being lost, stagnant, or worse – both! I felt like a baseball that had been hit out of the park and was trying to find my way back. What I eventually realised was that I could find myself a new park. The old park did not suit me anymore, did not serve my highest good and was keeping me stuck. I had an opportunity now to move forward and find a park that helped me, rather than hindered me. To be honest, I am still going through this one. I am finding myself slipping into old patterns of behaviour that no longer serve me and it is leaving me tired and unhappy. But I now have compassion and forgiveness for myself and hope that it will all become clear in time. The best thing you can do for yourself is acknowledge when this happens and re-centre. In the meantime, your best bet is to acknowledge this feeling and be aware of the next sign!
  4. Hermit time!: you will probably find that you won’t want to go out. It will be way too peoply out there! Besides, if you’ve reached sign 3 you won’t know what you want to do when you get out there anymore, anyway. This is your soul telling you it is time to be on your own for a while and take some time to heal. If you don’t you will end up rundown and eventually sick, and no one wants that. A lot of people will distract themselves with extra hobbies, or dinners out, or playing video games, or taking on more responsibility at work. Many will even binge watch whatever they can on Netflix even if it is boring (I have done this myself!), whatever they can to avoid being alone. It is all escapism, which is ok while you build up your strength and courage, but don’t set up camp here as it will leave you rundown and eventually make you sick. Honour this. Stay home. Learn to be on your own. Reintroduce yourself to you.

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As I said, I am still going through a lot of these over 18 months later. I think the assimilation is often the hardest part of the change. I am still getting to know myself and understanding what is now important to me. It was the hardest period of my life to date and I needed a lot of courage and strength to go through it. What I do know for sure, if I feel this good and I’m still assimilating, how amazing will I feel once it’s all settled?

It is one of the hardest periods you will go through in your entire life, but it is also one of the most beneficial.

Hang in there. x