The Dark Night of the Soul can last anywhere from 24 hours to several years. However, if it lasts longer than 12 weeks, you should accelerate the process of recovery.
In this guide, I’ll explain why the Dark Night of the Soul (DNOS) often needlessly lasts too long and how you can accelerate getting out of this unsettling and often scary place.
Why the Dark Night of the Soul Takes Time
The DNOS has a specific purpose, and its fulfillment is a process that must take time. So, what is the purpose of the Dark Night of the Soul?
The Dark Night of the Soul is given to you so that you could shed a layer of your worldview in order that you may gain a higher level of understanding and freedom and begin a new life of much greater fulfillment.
It demands that you transform one or more of the following levels of your energy:
All four levels are interconnected. But your being may need to recover and transform in some areas more than others.
In essence, the DNOS happens when at least one of these aspects of your being can no longer bear the burden of imposed limitation. And by neglecting any of them, you are prolonging your Dark Night of the Soul.
This is why, if your DNOS has been there for over 12 weeks, it is time for you to become proactive, accelerate the process of recovery, and gain a higher level of awareness and the new life that comes with it.
But first you need to understand how these different aspects of your being affect the duration of your Dark Night of the Soul.
Physical Factors that Prolong the Dark Night of the Soul
In today’s world of stress, overwork, and excessive demands on our bodies, it is no wonder that we should first look at our physical energy and any physical signs of the DNOS.
Here are the most common physical symptoms of the Dark Night of the Soul:
- Low energy and feeling tired, perhaps even totally exhausted
- Poor sleep and waking up without having rested
- Feeling bloated, abdominal discomfort, and other digestive symptoms
- Headaches, especially the tension type
- Blood glucose issues, such as hypoglycemia
- Brain fog
If your body has suffered so much in the past years that you are experiencing some of these symptoms, then it is no wonder that you are in the DNOS.
In our fast-paced world, we have become totally outcome-oriented and sacrifice our energy to achieve things that do not have the power to replenish it.
For example, let’s say you’ve worked hard to buy a fancy car. Okay, now you have the car, but you have sacrificed so much energy that your batteries are now depleted. And the car cannot help you recharge those batteries because it’s just a piece of metal.
Now that you can see how you may have exhausted yourself physically, you need to realize that physical recovery takes time. To replenish your physical batteries, you will need 8-12 weeks of proactive rest, relaxation, renewal, and replenishment.
However, the problem is that when the Dark Night of the Soul descends upon you, you are not likely to realize that your body is probably one of the aspects where recovery is needed.
So, you neglect your physicality. You may even make it worse by resorting to alcohol or pushing it even harder by drinking even more caffeine. This negligent approach will prolong your DNOS for as long as you continue to contribute to the problem or neglect it.
I’ll give you my own example. When the DNOS happened to me in November of 2008, I had no idea what I had been doing wrong with my body. As a result, I totally failed to help my body recover and recharge – for months and even years.
Within a couple of months I began to take supplements, but that was only a part of the solution. My Dark Night of the Soul lasted for about 2.5 years because I neglected my nutrition, out of ignorance.
Mental Factors that Prolong the Dark Night of the Soul
The reason we started with the body is that it is usually the hardest hit. And we need physical energy to do any kind of work, including that aimed at accelerating our exit from the Dark Night of the Soul.
But the mind is where your attention must go next because that is where the source of the problem has been, in the first place.
The reason you find yourself in the DNOS is that the mind has been deceiving you. It has been promising you a sense of fulfillment and resolution after each major outcome that you dreamt and went after.
However, either the outcomes did not come to pass or they did but never brought the satisfaction you had expected. In other words, the mind has been telling you a lie about the future.
It has been telling you that you will find yourself, your happiness, and probably your security, at a later date, so no need to live now. Just keep going after your goals, and that will bring you the happiness and freedom you’ve been seeking.
You went after the outcomes to get to promised land. But not only did you not feel more fulfilled as a result. But you actually became less happy and probably now have less freedom (because you bound yourself by obligations while working on your goals).
And now you probably experience these mental symptoms of the Dark Night of the Soul:
- Lack of direction
- Low mental energy
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Difficulty dealing with other people
- Fuzzy thinking
- Weak decision-making
These functions of the conscious mind fell victim to the unconscious motivation that kept whispering lies in your ear. And now your intellectual faculties, just like your body, are saying, “No more.”
And now, because it has become so hard to think clearly and make decisions, your time in the Dark Night of the Soul is being prolonged.
Another insidious process that takes place is that you begin to focus on the worst and maintain your focus there. It’s like you’re looking at the wall while in the middle of a spin on a road track.
For as long as your mind is fuzzy and gravitates towards what you fear, it will be hard to get out of the DNOS.
Emotional Factors that Prolong the Dark Night of the Soul
Emotions are the most powerful chemical that run through our bodies. And the DNOS amplifies the negative emotions and suppresses the positive ones.
Here are some of the emotional signs of the Dark Night of the Soul:
- Fear (in the form of worry and anxiety)
- Possibly panic attacks
- Anger (at yourself or – very commonly – a loved one)
You experience anger because you feel cheated. Someone or something out there (of course, it was really your own mind) promised you a reward you never collected. This is frustrating.
You may be overtaken with fear, worry, and anxiety because if you can’t trust the world (read – your mind), then whom can you trust to lead you out of this dark place? It seems you’ve come a full circle, and now you’re stuck.
You feel guilty because all you ever wanted was to make those you care about happy and to take care of them. But it seems that this was never meant to make you happy.
And you could also be blaming others for what’s happening because you’ve been trying so hard for their sake, and this is what you got as a result. Or, maybe you even blame someone as a direct cause of your predicament. Parents often get the blame.
As you can see, emotions can be treacherous. To be dominated by such negativity most of the time definitely precludes you from getting out of the Dark Night of the Soul. In effect, this is how your emotions prolong it.
Spiritual Factors that Prolong the Dark Night of the Soul
The most important handicap of a Dark Night of the Soul is that it suppresses your spiritual energy. What does that mean?
To be in touch with your spiritual energy means to be able to:
- Surrender to the present moment
- Receive answers from the subconscious (and the Infinite Intelligence)
- Manifest reality
When you are in the DNOS, these three abilities become suppressed. You find it hard to be in the present because you alternate between regrets of the past and fears of the future.
Your ability to receive great answers and insights plummets because you can’t seem to relax and listen to your inner voice. You’re caught in the cycle of negative thoughts.
And your ability to manifest outcomes suffers greatly because you can’t seem to focus on the positive and constructive. And wherever you stare – there you steer.
For as long as these abilities are suppressed in you, you’ll probably remain in the DNOS.
How to Make the Dark Night of the Soul End Sooner
Here are the steps you can take to accelerate your recovery and get out of the Dark Night of the Soul as quickly as possible.
Adopt functional nutrition
I’ll be blunt with you. If your energy is depleted, vegetarianism won’t help you. You really need to replenish your body organs and physical and mental batteries with high quality proteins and fats. And these are animal-based.
One of the mistakes I kept making in the beginning was trying to “eat healthy” by avoiding meats and other animal products. That did not work at all.
Once I began consuming high-quality animal products and reduced my carb intake, I was well on my way to feeling a lot better.
Don’t go crazy with exercise
Take it easy. Reduce the intensity of your workouts. You need your physical energy to recover, so don’t squander it in the gym.
Definitely exercise, but reduce the duration and intensity of your workouts.
Get ample rest
Try to get more sleep. Try to work a little less. Take mid-day naps.
Sometimes sitting down in meditation can be difficult when you’re anxious or depressed. So, try a walking meditation. Try active meditations by Osho.
But definitely do a form of meditation every day because it will help you tap into your spiritual energy.
Meditation will also help you manage your emotions by observing them as a witness instead of attaching yourself and reacting to them.
Talk to a coach or therapist
Talking to someone – a professional – can be one of the best things you can do. Try to find someone familiar with Jungian psychology or who has a holistic approach.
I hope this guide helps you out of your Dark Night of the Soul sooner.
To your freedom!