The dark night of the soul is one of the most transformative experiences you can have. It is also one of the most painful, but to live fully, you must go through it.

You will probably experience intense pain – even despair, confusion, and disillusionment. But, there are glimmers of light in the midst of it, giving you hope.

The dark night of the soul isn’t something that just happens to you; it’s a process of purification and transformation that characterizes the spiritual journey to wholeness, maturity, and freedom.

The 4 Dark Night of The Soul Stages

The dark night of the soul has four stages, and they are as follows:

  • Discontentment
  • Desolation
  • Reintegration
  • Wholeness/Maturity

Stage 1: Discontentment or Spiritual Betrayal

dark night of the soul stages

The dark night of the soul can come out of anywhere without you even expecting it.

It can be triggered by an unexpected loss or series of losses that leave you feeling deeply hurt and betrayed.

For example, this may occur after the ending of a significant relationship, the death of someone close to you, betrayal by someone you trusted, or even something as simple as failure to get accepted into your preferred school.

Whatever happens first sets off this process in your life.

The pain associated with this stage is often so intense that it feels like emotional destruction – as if nothing matters anymore.

You feel alone and isolated because nobody understands how much pain you are going through.

You want to curl up and die – or just run away – so that perhaps you can escape the pain.

It feels like all is lost, and you have no hope for the future.

As a result, you feel spiritually betrayed, as if life has been cruel to you and everything is one big joke at your expense.

Stage 2: Desolationdark night of the soul stages

Desolation often involves physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, nausea, and body aches – but there is more: psychological and emotional manifestations occur on an even deeper level of the psyche.  

This stage tends to deepen over time; regarding prolonged experiences of disconsolate feelings, this dark night of the soul phase can last from several months to several years.

It’s as if you have been abandoned by God or left alone with your problems without any resources, guidance, or hope.

Desolation has a way of taking you very deeply into yourself because it is an inner journey back to The Source – for within the abyss of desolation lies the key to re-discovering your life purpose and inner strength.

Stage 3: Reintegration or Facing Your Demonsdark night of the soul stages

As a result of going through stages 1 and 2, you will finally be ready to face “what is” instead of running away from it.  

You begin to accept all aspects of yourself – both good and bad – perhaps even noting that there are parts of you that need some changing.

In this stage, you begin to recognize that all of your experiences have been preparing you for a future event or goal.

Stage 4: Wholeness/Maturitydark night of the soul stages

The fourth and final stage involves a deep-felt sense of gratitude regarding what you’ve learned from going through the previous stages.

You understand that the dark night of the soul is not something negative or burdensome but rather an opportunity for transformation from which you come out stronger.

In addition, there is a growing understanding of life’s “bigger picture” regarding both current events and major historical incidents in the world.  

These insights remind you that darkness always precedes light and that the night must fall before dawn.

The dark night of the soul is a critical stage in your psychological, emotional, and spiritual development, so don’t take it lightly.

As difficult as it may be, go through each stage consciously because they are all key milestones on your life path!

Once you have gone through this process, you will become stronger and wiser for having gone through these natural stages.  

How Long Does The Dark Night of The Soul Last?

The dark night of the soul will continue until you have awakened to your spiritual potential.

This awakening may occur suddenly or gradually, but the process cannot be stopped either way.

Be patient with yourself and know that you are not alone.

Of all the stages in the dark night of the soul cycle, remember that reintegration is definitely the most important.  

Without this stage – which involves a conscious awareness about what you’ve learned so far throughout your painful past – there would be no point in having experienced desolation and apathy at all.   

As long as you are aware that the pain, stress, darkness, and suffering have been helpful to your spiritual growth, then you can take pride in knowing that your dark night of the soul is over.

How Do I Get out of The Dark Night Of The Soul?

dark night of the soul stages

“You cannot escape the sufferings of life, but if you know how to endure them, they can become your teacher and guide.” – Osho.

The key here is to be patient with yourself. Don’t throw in the towel if you don’t experience progress immediately.  

If anything, consider it an important event that must happen for you to evolve into a better version of yourself.

My best advice: stay centered and grounded by focusing on your breath.

Breath awareness helps keep you present and creates feelings of inner peace which greatly reduces stress and anxiety.  

Being centered also allows you to remain calm even when things are not going according to plan because it reminds you that there is always an inner strength and wisdom inside you.

Although this may seem hard to do during times of stress, it is well worth the effort.

The other things you can do are:

  1. Find solitude and practice meditation.
  2. Enjoy nature
  3. Consume meals that are high in nutrients.
  4. Seek advice from others.
  5. Keep in mind that everything, including this, will eventually pass.

If you feel stuck, remember to seek help in the form of guidance or counseling.

It’s also likely that you’ll come across many blockages along the way.  

Whenever this happens, ask yourself: What prevents me from moving forward?

The answer will point you to the root of your struggles and help you focus on those things that need immediate attention.

So, take good care of yourself, as these obstacles can only be overcome if your body, mind, and soul are healthy and centered.

What Happens After The Dark Night of The Soul?

There are many positive implications after the dark night of the soul is over, such as:

  • You develop a strong sense of self-confidence and inner strength.
  • You heal from old wounds and transform them into wisdom.
  • A heightened awareness allows you to see life’s “big picture.”
  • Sense of direction in regards to your life purpose and goals becomes clearer.

You can make your life better by using your sense of inner strength to make healthy life choices.

“After this stage, you begin to recognize that all of your experiences have been preparing you for a future event or goal.”

You can continue the road to recovery by practicing self-love and self-compassion.

After all, it is important to be kind to yourself because you deserve it!

You will slowly start feeling better about your life, and even the negative experiences won’t seem as bad.   

In fact, you’ll realize that they were necessary for your personal growth and development, which makes them more bearable.

How To Recognize Happinessdark night of the soul stages

Throughout your life, you have externally experienced happiness.

For example, you probably felt happy when someone or something made you feel loved. You may have also experienced it when you finally got what you wanted.   

During the dark night of the soul, however, happiness is not experienced externally but rather as an internal feeling that keeps you grounded and balanced even during extreme pain and hardship.

According to Cheryl Richardson, this sense of balance helps us develop patience which makes us stronger when dealing with physical pain, emotional pain, anger, or illness.   

It’s easy for many of us to give up on our dreams, especially if we grew up believing that life should be fair all the time.  

As a result of these misunderstandings about life, many of us feel disappointed when things don’t go our way.

In the end, it is important to accept that not everything in life will be fair and that sometimes bad things happen for a reason.  

As you experience pain and suffering in your life, remember that all of this is temporary, and in time, you will evolve into a better version of yourself.


Now that you know what to expect, I want you to remember this: 

Yes, the dark night of the soul sucks, but it happens for a reason!  

Don’t numb yourself by abusing substances because it will only delay your process until you finally feel ready to go through the stages.  

The sooner you wake up and understand why you are going through such pain, darkness, and despair, the faster you will be able to heal and learn from your painful experiences.

In essence, embrace everything as a necessary step towards your spiritual growth!