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 a 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 at one time 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 in life.
When we aren’t living our lives following what our soul needs, we begin to experience signs and symptoms.
The signs and symptoms may be physical or emotional and are meant to wake us up to the realization that our personality is constricting our life force energy and has become a prison for us. When we begin to notice these signs that are arising from our souls, we have a choice to make.
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.
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.
This darkness arises when we realize that 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 that I’ve grown comfortable and accustomed to.
How do we become aware of this prison created by 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 get a better idea of 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 signs and symptoms that were confusing 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 what it represents is the journey inward.
Where 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.
We start by going inward and downward and then bring this new way of being back out into the world.
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.
Our soul is beckoning us to be of service, live with compassion, practice forgiveness and alchemize all of 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!
I have never heard of Enneagram so I appreciate you introducing it. Everything you’ve spoken about is right in line with how I’m feeling. I however feel like there is a deeper hurt inside of me that I’m fearful of addressing. I’m not certain if enneagram techniques Will be helpful in addressing everything that is burning inside of me. I don’t know how else to explain it I have lost a great number of people in my life and don’t really have a true support system so I appreciate the opportunity of commenting here. I just hope that you still get notifications of comments.
Thank you kindly.
Thanks for sharing here. I think you’ll find the Enneagram helpful for understanding yourself as well as your growth path. Your inner wisdom is likely very insightful about a deeper hurt that won’t be addressed by knowing your Enneagram number. Having lost a great number of people in your life, there is understandbly fear, grief and loss that is calling for you to attend to. I hope you’re able to get some support so that you can compassionately turn towards the “burning inside” in a safe place. Much love, Bev.
Help me please?? My soul is speaking to me but I’m scared to let go of what I know, although all I want to do is listen to it!
You are definitely not alone in being fearful of letting go of what you know. It is often a step into the unknown which is really challenging for our sense of identify. It’s often helpful to ask for help from someone who can support you on the journey. If you’re looking for mentorship please email me at email@example.com. Much love, Bev
I couldn’t agree more! I found the Enneagram at the time I was going through a very rough patch. Studying it rocked my world, really!
After a lifetime of self exploration I found this body of work that allowed me to truly SEE and understand what was happening with me. Thank you for introducing me to the Enneagram Bev!
I love the line about how meditation helps you be more resilient in prison! Yep, we are in prison and the Enneagram helps do the work to get out.
Thank you for writing this excellent article.
Thanks for sharing with us here! I’m so glad the Enneagram found you at a time that you most needed it! So true that the Enneagram helps us to “truly SEE” ourselves. Love, Bev.
This is awesome and brings so much light to what I am experiencing at this present moment! I understand that my soul wants to come forth and I’ve been constructing that. Man, I just want more and more of this knowledge to Mae applicable in my life and share with others how to get out of prison!!!
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad this post has shed some light on what you’re experiencing! Love, Bev
Oh wow, this makes perfect sense. I’m going to spend more time with the Enneagram and implement its insights into my journey.
I’m so glad to hear you’re going to spend more time with the Enneagram. It truly is a powerful map for deeper self-knowledge (as well as understanding other people in our lives) and illuminating our way forward. Love, Bev
Thanks Guys!👍 More Vital Info to help on this Soul Journey! Take Care!👍🖐️.
Thank you Kathy! I’m wondering how to determine our number on the enneagram? I also wanted to know if you think specific relationships, even if they are with good people, can hold us back from becoming our true selves?
Thanks for your great questions! There are a number of ways to determine your Enneagram number. You can read books about it, do an online test or have a “typing” interview to help narrow your focus. I’ve found all three to be helpful, especially when you are committed to personal and spiritual growth. Finding our number is really just the beginning of the process which provides a path for awakening to our true nature and authentic self.
In terms of relationships and the role they play in becoming our true selves it’s been my experience that relationships are needed for us to become our true selves. From a spiritual perspective, relationships exist to help us understand ourselves better and shed a light on those areas that we might not see. What I often see is that people perceive others to be holding them back, when in fact they are holding themselves back. In the process of evolving and doing our inner work, we gain clarity about whether the relationship is meant to evolve along with us or whether we’re meant to lovingingly release it. Much love, Bev