Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Vibe Shifting Show. We’ve had a long hiatus since the last episode, but we’re back on schedule and (hopefully) better than ever. Today we are talking about the dark night of the soul – that period of doubt and despair that overtakes even the most enthusiastic and courageous of adventurers on the way to building any big dream.
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Now, I’ve talked before about how faltering on the way to a dream is highly likely. Sometimes you’ll fall flat on your face and wonder why you ever considered this unbeaten path in the first place. Sometimes you’ll even feel like giving up completely – like turning around and going right back to the way things were because you’ve come to the conclusion that you just don’t have what it takes to succeed in your quest for success.
But before you go high-tailing it back to a life that just doesn’t fit you anymore, there’s something you need to know: It is like this with every great journey. Every time someone sets out to make a really big change in life, there is a point where everything falls apart.
The dark night of the soul
This is the dark night of the soul that the hero in any tale of adventure faces midway through her quest. It is a time wherein her setbacks outnumber her successes, the emotional cost is great, and she begins to question everything: her abilities, her direction, and indeed her very purpose.How to get through the lowest point on your way to a dream. #persistence Click To Tweet
The dark night of the soul is fraught with danger, for it marks the point of no return: will the hero give up in despair, or will she move forward with a renewed sense of determination and hope? Will she abandon her dreams, or will she overcome her doubts and rise even stronger than before?
Now here’s the thing: You are always the hero in your own life story. You are the central figure, and the story itself revolves around you and what you do. And, like it or not, your future depends on the outcome of this one, single choice.
The point of no return
The point of utter despair on the way to a dream is the decision point. The path here branches; one fork leads to an uncertain but potentially great future, and the other is the safe route.
Should you take the path of adventure there are no guarantees; failure is always a possibility. But you sense that the rewards of success could be extraordinary.
Should you take the safe route your life will in some ways become easier as you will “fit in” better with the known world, where conformity is expected and journeys such as the one you have been on are often fiercely denounced. But in that fitting in, there will also be a stiff penalty: a terrible weakening of your inner fire.
The hero’s journey
In his many written works, the great mythologist Joseph Campbell explains the Hero’s Journey, tracing the steps every hero follows along this path:
- the call to adventure, when the hero feels that something is wrong or missing;
- the meeting with the mentor, who helps her believe that she really can succeed in her quest;
- the crossing of the threshold from her known to world into the outer realms of the world she wishes to enter or create for herself;
- the tests and ordeals she will face in order to assess her resolve; and,
- the allies and enemies she meets in her ongoing journey.
The pattern of this journey can be found in stories and myths from every culture, and every time, across the entire planet. This is because the Hero’s Journey is, at its heart, a human journey through the terrifying and unknown terrain of change.
Getting kicked when you’re already down
Now, following the pattern of the Hero’s Journey, along your path of change, you will have been tested with difficulties or barriers to success that you vanquished successfully. And that would have bolstered your belief in yourself. But at some point along this road, there will have been dangers and difficulties that you could not overcome. Quite possibly, there will have been a lot of these crushing defeats.
And it is at this point, when you’ve been metaphorically thrown to the ground, over and over again, that your most fearsome enemies will reveal themselves in all their terrible power: your inner demons will always come howling for you at your lowest point.
Meet your inner demons
These demons are born of the secret doubts and fears and insecurities you have – the ones you’ve never spoken to anyone about. The ones that keep you up at night when you should be sleeping.You’ve got to battle your inner demons before you can build a dream! #courage Click To Tweet
The demons inside you are more frightening than anything you will encounter on your outer travels, and these are the terrors that will torment you throughout the dark night of the soul. They are the most powerful and significant barrier standing between and what you seek on your quest for change.
The real purpose of the quest
More than whatever it is that you consciously seek, it is facing these subconscious demons that is the true purpose of your Quest. If you cannot vanquish your most powerful mind monsters while you are at your weakest and most vulnerable, you will not succeed with the greater quest.
This is the critical test. If you waver in pursuit of the goal now, you will inevitably fail. And here’s the thing: exhausted and defeated, you will want to give up because turning tail and going back where you started is easier than forging ahead through your own worst fears.
The dark before the light
But here’s the thing: like the cliché says, it’s always darkest before the dawn. The dark night of the soul always ends. And if you can keep yourself focused on what’s truly important to you, if you can find the strength to keep going through all the doubt and all the fear and all the self-recrimination, you will come out the other side of the storm stronger than you were before it hit.
But that’s sometimes easier said than done, because when you’re in the thick of this kind of thing, it can be one hell of a storm.
And thing about the dark night of the soul is that the timeline can vary. Sometimes it really is just one terrible, troubled, sleepless night. And other times… well, let’s just say this can drag on for days, weeks, sometimes even months before any resolution is found.
The proof is in the progress
Many a hero has crashed upon this shore and lost her way, unable or unwilling to continue with the quest, judging the cost too high and the odds of success too small.
This is one of the reasons for which I recommend keeping a success log of all the small steps you take towards your dream every day. When you reach the dark night of the soul (and you will), this log can provide you with the evidence you need to make you realize that, despite your current beliefs, you really are making progress towards that dream.Keep track of your progress; it’ll help you keep going when you hit the low points. #entrepreneur Click To Tweet
And sometimes that’s all it takes to convince yourself to hang on; it’s that little bit of proof that gives you the strength you need to walk through the darkness and keep working towards what’s really important to you. Especially when everything starts falling apart all at once.
Vanquishing the demons
In Campbell’s analysis of world myths, when the hero finally overcomes this period of darkness and despair, she is usually given a powerful magical item that will help her complete her quest. But more importantly, she herself is transformed by the experience, finding capabilities awakened within herself that she never even knew she had.
When you face the storm on your own journey, remember this: getting through the dark night of the soul is not really about finding any kind of physical treasure or material success. It’s about vanquishing your own demons so that you are finally ready to create the success you want. And that’s why it’s so important not to give up yet.
After the storm
So, think about why you started on this journey. Think about what success would mean to you and to the people who matter most to you. Think about what it would be worth to you to achieve that which you have been working so hard for. Find your anchor in what is most meaningful to you, and the storm cannot hurt you.
Get back to your feet.
And keep going.
The dark night of the soul will pass; it always does. And you will not be the same person when the dawn returns.
And that was the whole point of it in the first place…
Photo credit: pixabay.com cc (modified by me)
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Oh wow! I get it now. You are really in the road of becoming the person you set out to become, if that makes sense. In Greek, there’s a saying that “every obstacle is for the good” so this ties in very nicely with the topic at hand. I totally feel it too!
The thing is, going back to where you started becomes a habit and keeps you stagnant whereas you need to keep going on the path fear or not. Actually now the many biographies and auto-biographies I’ve read make better sense to me. It’s just that I see people float through life with hardly anything in their way and I wonder if their stars are just better aligned than those of us who have to tear through everything. Some would believe this to be true.
Thank you for this great podcast and here’s to a terrific year ahead! By the way, September is my favorite month, as the weather is pretty much perfect.
I like that saying — kind of like the whole finding the silver lining thing. I think sometimes it’s hard to wrap our heads around because it’s so hard to find the good that comes out of the bad (especially when the bad is spectacularly bad!) But if we can build that mental resilience within ourselves — that ability to seek out any thread of possibility or opportunity within the obstacles we face, I think that can go a long way to getting us through the bad times in life.
I have no idea why some of us face more of those obstacles than other. I know standard LOA says it’s an alignment thing. I don’t know how much I still believe that. I still believe that our mental focus can get us through these things, but I just don’t know about causes anymore. Still pondering all of that.
I’m very excited about the podcast this year — there will be guests! (More about that in Tuesday’s blog post, and the first guest episode will be October 6th.)
P.S. I usually love September. Early fall is my favourite time of year. But this year, summer came mid-September and we’re in the middle of a massive heat wave that’s been going on for two weeks now. Highs of 30 C this weekend. And no sign of nice, crispy fall weather for another week…