12 Signs You're Experiencing A 'Dark Night Of The Soul'

You are floating in an abyss of despair.

man in the darkness XH2 / Shutterstock

The term "Dark Night of the Soul" dates back to the 16th century where a Catholic priest, mystic and poet, Saint John of the Cross, wrote a poem called, “La noche oscura del alma," which translates to "the Dark Night of the Soul."

The poem is comprised of eight stanzas, and is a narration of a person's soul to a "mystical union with God." But the poem holds a much deeper meaning.

What is a Dark Night of the Soul?

The Dark Night of the Soul is a period where you’ve lost touch with God or a higher power. It is a feeling of drowning in an ocean of emptiness or of extreme despair.


This spiritual crisis is one filled with desolation, disconnection, an inability to find the meaning of life. When experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul, you feel lost and hopeless.

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The Dark Night of the Soul can be religious, but it can also be mental, emotional or spiritual. Either way, it denotes a lack of security and stability.

Though they share similar symptoms and characteristics, unlike depression, a Dark Night of the Soul is not an official mental health condition.

What causes a Dark Night of the Soul?

Anyone can experience an existential crisis of extreme sadness that is so deeply embedded, it can be considered a Dark Night of the Soul.

Every person is different, so the cause of this condition varies. There could be a life-changing thing that happens such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or divorce.

Or, your Dark Night of the Soul can be triggered by a period where you feel overwhelmed or where you have gone through a series of trials over a long time and finally break.


How long does a Dark Night of the Soul last?

As terrible as it is to be experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul, the good news is that going through it pushes you from one phase of life to the next via a spiritual awakening.

There is no set time frame on this condition; however, Saint John went through his experience for 45 years! But if you are on the same spiritual journey, yours doesn’t have to last that long.

This temporary awakening process can be shortened by getting the right support to navigate it so you quickly emerge with a transformed state of consciousness.

12 Signs You’re Going Through a Dark Night of the Soul

1. You feel a deep sense of sadness.

You are suddenly unable to find any happiness in life. Not only are you unable to reach within to find satisfaction in life, but the external things you depended on to uplift you have lost their appeal.


This usually happens at a time when you have no reason to be so solemn. Your subconscious mind is clearing out the things that don’t matter to make way for what makes you complete.

2. You feel unworthy.

You have a case of imposter syndrome, as if you don’t belong or you have been given something you don’t deserve. The script you created for your life is no longer relevant and you don’t feel the need to live up to the standards imposed on you by society.

3. You're purging.

Removing things from your life that no longer serve you is a sure sign that you are experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul.

You are lightening your load, decluttering your surroundings and social circles. This purge can include eating healthier, crying, sweating, or vomiting to cleanse your body.


4. Your thoughts are scary.

A Dark Night of the Soul can lead to some downright terrifying thoughts. They may leave you to question your place in the world or whether or not you are even needed.

When these thoughts invade your mind, causing you to be enveloped in them, the idea is not to fight them. Let them come and strengthen your resolve to overcome them.

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5. Your dreams are vivid.

We have all had dreams that seemed so real, you woke up dazed and confused, expecting what you saw in your sleep to be reality. Those vivid dreams can be your unconscious thoughts trying to work through the troubles and stresses of your waking life.


6. You want to go somewhere sacred.

As you enter the Dark Night of the Soul, you might find yourself longing to be elsewhere. You may not know exactly where that is or it may be a place with deep meaning for you.

Perhaps it’s a childhood home filled with nostalgia. This feeling means that you want to get your soul grounded in a way it once was.

7. You're having old memories.

All of a sudden, old memories you had long forgotten are popping up. They may be pleasant memories or traumatic ones you’ve worked hard to forget.

As painful as some memories are, what is important during this time is to dig into the lessons the universe is teaching you.


8. You're preoccupied with death.

At the start of a Dark Night of the Soul, it is normal to have a preoccupation with death. You could feel like dying is right around the corner.

But there will come a point when you start to ask yourself why you are so fixated on death. Once you turn that corner, your fears will start to disappear.

9. You feel free.

Once you overcome the initial fear of a Dark Night of the Soul, you will begin to feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

The awareness of the journey you are on will give you an egoic sense of freedom. You are no longer bound by despair, but rather anchored by faith.

10. You yearn for spiritual growth.

You have many questions and are willing to seek out the answers. You are reading a lot, especially self-help books.


During a Dark Night of the Soul, you will start to do healing practices like meditation, cleanings rituals, therapeutic interventions, and seek spiritual guidance.

11. You keep experiencing coincidences.

You keep running into the same people over and over after not seeing them for an extended period of time. Or the same numbers keep recurring around you, leading you to believe the universe has a special message for you.

You might be in the midst of a Dark Night of the Soul.

12. You get confirmation from a psychic.

One of the best ways to confirm you are having a Dark Night of the Soul is to have a real psychic confirm your suspicions.

If you believe in psychics, reaching out to one you trust can be a great step in first affirming that your spiritual awakening has arrived, then moving forward to your next phase of life.


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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle, entertainment and news, and self-focused content, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.