The Dark Night Of The Soul: Illuminating The Depths Of Personality.
Our soul is energy that contains our spiritual programming about who we’re destined to become. Our soul can never be destroyed, only hidden from our awareness.
When we go through the dark night of the soul, we loosen our identification with our personality (some call it our ego). In a previous post, I shared the purpose of the dark night of the soul.
In this post, I propose that the “dark night of the soul” is, in reality, the “dark night of the personality.”
The process can be painful and involves suffering, but in the end, it relieves our suffering. This is especially true when we create meaning out of our misery. As Viktor E. Frankl so profoundly said,
In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice.
William Meader, an Esoteric philosophy teacher, calls our personality our “outer garment.”
We develop a persona as a way to survive as children. It’s believed that we’re born with a personality, and over time our personality structure becomes increasingly rigid and begins to suffocate the natural expansion of our soul.
Our personality, which once enabled us to survive, becomes a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that limits our growth and connection with our soul. Our outer garment blocks a deeper relationship with others and what feels meaningful.
Signs and symptoms
When we aren’t living our lives following our soul’s needs, we experience signs and symptoms.
The signs and symptoms may be physical or emotional and are meant to awaken us to realize that our personality is constricting our life force energy and has become a prison for us. When we begin to notice these signs arising from our souls, we have a choice.
Either we continue to feel like we aren’t thriving and living lives that aren’t aligned with our true selves, or we begin to do the work to loosen the outer garment.
This always involves embarking on the inner journey, which takes us inward and downward by its very nature.
Going inward and downward
When we go inward, and downward it often feels like a journey into the darkness. A trip to a place we haven’t been before. A journey that must be taken if we’re to return home to our true selves. The self that we were born with and which we have lost touch with for many different reasons. I wrote The 7 Pillars of Awakening On Your Spiritual Path to illuminate the journey.
This darkness arises when we realize we have been living a life that wasn’t ours. A life that may have been full, successful, meaningful, and worked for us until it no longer works.
This is where we enter the dark night of the personality. I wonder who I am when I’m not identified with this way of being I’ve grown comfortable and accustomed to.
How do we become aware of this prison created by our personality?
The prison of our personality
You might think it’s through meditation, but meditation doesn’t help us see the lens through which we see the world. Meditation has many benefits, but visiting the prison we’re in isn’t one of them. Meditation helps us adapt and be more resilient in prison, but it doesn’t help us bust out of it when our soul needs more freedom.
This is where the Enneagram comes in. The Enneagram is an ancient system that identifies nine different personality types. Suzanne Stabile, an Enneagram teacher, says, “A person’s Enneagram type is like a mask, a layer of self-protective personality put on in early childhood. The goal of understanding one’s number is to remove the mask and bring one’s healthy, True Self to light.”
The Enneagram gives you the plan to get out of jail; self-awareness practices like meditation and mindfulness give you the tools to find your way to freedom.
Let me give you a brief glimpse into my dark night of the personality so you can better understand what I’m talking about.
My personality garment was built on the belief that I was meant to suppress my wants and needs to help others. I was motivated to be liked, and as a result, I lost my SELF.
My personality enabled me to raise a family, have a happy marriage, be a successful nurse, have friends, get an excellent education and do many other things. The paradox is that our personality also contains our gifts. But like all good things, when overdone, it can become problematic.
My personality worked for many years! And then, this same way of being (including my thoughts, feelings actions) motivated me to make decisions that weren’t aligned with my soul and path.
I had all sorts of confusing signs and symptoms at the time: I felt like something was missing in my life even though I had SO much to be grateful for -what I call soul hunger. I felt like my life which had previously been meaningful, lacked meaning. I was burnt out, and my stress hormones were out of whack. I felt empty and lost, without clarity about why or a way forward.
This was the start of my dark night of the personality and removing the well-worn mask.
I had to integrate those parts of myself that I’d left behind – for me; it was my voice, dreams, feelings, needs, and gifts. This was a very dark time for me as I had to let go of who I was not and shift into “becoming” my more authentic self.
Periods of transition and transformation always involve the death of something that needs to disappear.
Nature teaches us that all of life is about birth-death-rebirth. In the dark night of the personality, we die to our conditioned personality and give birth to our more authentic self.
At its core, this is what Joseph Campell’s epic adventure, the Hero’s Journey is all about—hearing the call and responding with the courage it takes to embark on a new adventure. This depiction of the Hero’s Journey is often portrayed as a physical adventure but represents the inward journey.
We face our fears and shadows and bring them into the light for transfiguration; as we do this, we expand our soul, and that part of us that was dormant, waiting patiently for us to awaken, is brought out into the light.
Our personality takes on a luminous quality and takes its rightful place in our lives – as an outer garment that enables us to express our soul in the world.
Being of service
Our soul is beckoning us to be of service, live with compassion, practice forgiveness and alchemize all our experiences (the beautiful ones and the challenging ones) to expand in love and wisdom.
The dark night of the personality is the doorway through which we bring our soul and its connection to spirit into conscious awareness.
The journey of a lifetime and the ultimate homecoming enables us to live an integrated life with deeper meaning, purpose, and connection.
If you feel called, please comment below. Our community would love to hear from you!