It sounds ominous doesn’t it, mysterious even? And well, that’s because in a way it is, but that’s not to say it’s unmanageable or that it doesn’t serve a purpose. The dark night of the soul refers to a moment in life, a period where everything that has defined you up until that point is stripped away by a change in circumstance; it’s a disruption of the value system you identify with, which can lead to a process of reinvention. One of the pitfalls is to think that those dark places are actually bad, when in terms of finding a greater expression, they’re lined with gold. The catalyst is usually a major life changing event which is most likely to be out of your control, sometimes serving as the greatest of wakeup calls. It’s the point where everything you thought to be the measure of life has collapsed underneath you. It could be any situation ranging from a serious car accident to terminal cancer, a cheating partner or losing your job for instance. It’s not predictable, it unexpected and it’s sudden. Afterwards you’re left thinking that all the effort you put in was of no significance. To experience the dark night of the soul is to feel complete hopelessness, without a sense that there is a way out of your situation.
So then how can you get out if you can’t even envision it? Recovering is not about reclaiming what was lost but about recreating a new reality based on values that can be sustained, values like peace and social justice, or what I would call Buddha-consciousness or Christ-consciousness principles. In other words, it’s finding a set of values that are no longer predicted by financial, relationship or employment success. To feel as low as to experience the dark night of the soul is not strange, wrong or in any way unique and it is a part of the human journey. At some stage, the dark night of the soul is something everyone has to go through. One of the biggest problems is that people don’t have the tools or the strategies to be able to find a way out, to find a meaningful, whole life defined by the clarity of knowing the difference between what sustainable and non-sustainable values are. This difference is what will give you freedom from what brought you to this place, along with the natural inclination towards being happy. All the work of EAP is assisting people to have clarity on sustainable values.