The Roman Catholic church sums up the meaning of this concept quite well, I think:
“The term "dark night (of the soul)" in Roman Catholic spirituality describes a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God.” - Wikipedia
To broaden the meaning, take it from somebody who’s experienced it and risen from those ashes on a pretty grand scale, Eckhart Tolle:
The “dark night of the soul” is a term that goes back a long time. … It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level. ...The meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.
That certainly happened to me! When my first son was born traumatically, my entire perception of reality collapsed. Or, more simply put, the rug was pulled out from under me. I had nothing to stand on anymore. What I once thought was the meaning of life, what I firmly believed in, was no more. And what really sucked is that I felt like I worked my ass off ALREADY to make sense of my purpose here on this planet in this lifetime. Only to have every meaning and experience swept away as if it were pointless or useless.
How do you get out of a darkness like that? Well, my theory is this is why suicides happen. Because death is one way out of it, and trust me, I considered it. But that’s an easy way out, and honestly, since I believe in reincarnation and karmic cycles (I can delve into that more later), I don’t think ending this life will solve your problem, because if your lessons aren’t learned, you have to retake the test. In other words, come back and do it again.
Believing my son needed a mother was sometimes the only thing that kept me going. But sometimes, I felt like such a worthless shadow of a human being that I felt he’d be better off with no mother than whatever this sorry excuse for one was. I’m telling you, it was bad.
Anyway, enough depressing talk. I knew I needed to get out of this dark hole, so I figured I’d give counseling a try. At this point, what do I have to lose, right?
It took some WORK. I had to make physical shifts first, then mental shifts, and then I got to the real substance. The part that shifted me out of that shadow just going through the motions, and back into a thriving, happy, fulfilled spiritual being having this human experience. And LOVING this human experience!
I got to a place where I realized this happened FOR me, not TO me. Meaning I had to stop being the victim of that birth trauma, and see myself as a participant in that experience, trusting that that experience was put in place to shape me.
But into what, was up to me. I could let it shape me into a depressed, withering, lost soul trapped in the dark, or I could shape myself into something stronger, more resilient, wiser, and free. I didn’t know that at the time; I just knew I didn’t want to be in this dark place anymore. I had no idea how amazing the light was coming out of that dark place, though, and no idea how powerful I am as a being having this experience.
That’s the whole idea of getting out of victim mode. You take back your power. When you’re a victim, someone or something else still has your power. THEY or IT did this to you. THEY or IT put you through this misery. Therefore THEY or IT has the power over you. The moment you stand up and say, “NO, you don’t have power over me! I do!” and you start participating in this experience called life, you take your power back.
And when your power is back, you really can get through anything, and never again will there be an obstacle too large for you to pass through.
If you’ve been through a Dark Night of the Soul and gotten back out of it, you know what I’m talking about. And if you’re currently in it, feeling lost, stuck, depressed, disempowered, or hopeless, I want you to know that this is not forever. This is a beautiful opportunity to help you discover a power you never knew you had. It’s probably hard to believe that when you’re in the midst of despair, but don’t give up hope. You don’t have to live like this. You SHOULDN’T live like this. But only YOU can take the first steps from rising out of it. Seek a counselor. Start journaling (if you need help, subscribe to my newsletter for journaling prompts and guidance). Start a meditation practice (I’ve had success using the Headspace app to get started). Read uplifting books or self-growth books written by others who have been through what you’re going through. Exercise. Cut out sugar. Stop hanging out with people who spend too much time gossiping or staying focused on the negative. You don’t need to do all these things at once, but choose one and stick to it until you feel it’s integrated into your lifestyle, then move on to adding another.If you need more guidance, I’d love to help. After rising up from my own ashes, I want to help anyone I can rise up from their own ashes and discover their own meaning of life. And if you’ve already started the process, you’re already feeling better, but still feel like something is missing, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m equipped with many tools and skills to help you find the missing piece to your inner joy and peace. You can reach me on social media @JamiChristine11 or you can email me at email@example.com. You deserve a fulfilling, happy life. Don’t settle for anything less than that!