Is a spiritual awakening a traumatic experience?

There aren’t many YouTubers I follow, but I’ve discovered a few authentic, beautiful souls on there in the past couple years whose messages have been comforting to me whenever I have felt lost or confused on the path of awakening. One of these lovely people is Kelli In The Raw. I remember coming across one of her videos that I found especially helpful where she discussed the challenges that people face in the awakening process. She described the awakening process in a way that fit with the 5 stages of grief. She said awakening is “traumatic”, which I imagine might sound a little melodramatic to people who haven’t been through all the ups and downs that are involved as someone abandons much of what they knew to enter into a territory of the unknown. I can say from my own experience that awakening can stir up some really uncomfortable and unsettling feelings.

What I have noticed is that a lot of people like to talk about the bliss of awakening and keep their focus on the positive aspects of it, which is great, but that doesn’t help validate the many struggles that some of us go through during the awakening process. If your awakening experience has caused you to feel disoriented, confused, or slightly overwhelmed, I encourage you to hear Kelli’s thoughts about the awakening process. Here is the video about the trauma of awakening:

As we try to embrace this shift, there is much to let go of, which can certainly lead to a sense of mourning for what used to be. We may decide it’s time to pursue new goals, to switch careers, to move to a new location, to end relationships that are no longer fulfilling, to experience existing relationships with family and old friends in a new way, to shed many old beliefs, to step foot on an entirely different path, and to abandon practically everything that was familiar in order to embrace something entirely new and different. For some people, change is exciting. For others, it can create a feeling of anxiety or sadness. It feels like we’re being forced to learn lessons about change and attachment since everything is getting yanked up by the roots.

For some people, there is a strong sense of loneliness and isolation. Those who are awakening and gaining a new perspective on life typically find it difficult, boring, and/or painful to be around people who can’t understand them anymore. In my experience, I am definitely not interested in clinging to old relationships or in trying to prevent relationships from evolving, but I have occasionally felt sadness knowing that some friendships are ending or fading away rather quickly. I realize that the ending of one thing can lead to the beginning of something better, but it’s hard to stay excited in that transition phase where the new connections have not yet been discovered.

There can also be pain and disappointment from feeling misunderstood. Maybe you’ve started behaving differently, thinking differently, or relating to people differently, and the people around you don’t really get it. You could be going through some difficult things internally, yet everyone around you assumes you are perfectly ok. While you’re struggling, you might be blamed for not meeting whatever expectations certain people hold of you. I have been hurt by those who can only point out what I am doing wrong instead of taking a moment to ask me, “How are you doing lately? I sense that something might be different. Is everything going ok?” It’s like there’s already enough whirlwind of change going on inside that I’d rather not have the added stress of conflict in relationships.

And have you ever bothered to reach out to a friend to tell them what you are experiencing because you feel quite alone and overwhelmed, yet they appear completely clueless about everything you just said? Now that’s a bit painful. I experienced that a lot during the peak of a strange ego death phase I went through last year. I could have explained my thoughts and feelings in a million different ways, but if people have never been in such a place, they’re simply not going to understand it.

The sense of isolation can increase when you’re going through a huge transformation, and it appears that people around you remain unchanged and unconcerned with anything beyond their personal needs and desires. While you are beginning to see beyond illusions and want to find more happiness or devote your life to helping others, they continue living their old lives and seem content with same old meaningless distractions that no longer satisfy you. Sometimes you might try to get others excited and turned on to these new ideas you’ve been having lately, but they’ll usually act indifferent or critically to what you say. You don’t want to feel superior to these old friends, but you realize you’ve evolved to a new level and have lost the ability to relate with them.

It can sometimes be upsetting to see how people, in general, act indifferent to issues that you passionately feel are important to healing ourselves and the planet. It can be discouraging when your message is continually ignored because many people prefer to remain in ignorance and not take action. Sometimes, you might have exciting goals or ideas to share but no one to share them with. That’s when you realize how much you’ve outgrown old relationships and need to connect with new people who understand and support the new path you’ve chosen. Of course, you don’t have to drop all your old friendships, but you’ll probably notice a stagnant feeling arise if you keep attempting to live the life you experienced prior to awakening.

You’ve probably noticed how the pain of stagnancy is often much more intense than the pain of growth and change. The last pain of awakening I want to mention here is that pain many of us feel inside when we hear our soul calling for us to do something radical and brave, something that is aligned with our mission or true calling in life, but that old ego talk keeps us paralyzed by the fear that we will fail or that everything will fall apart. In the past, maybe you could successfully talk yourself out of following your dreams and passions because you could always justify it with excuses like, “That’s just not realistic for me” or “Maybe I’ll be able to get around to that someday, but I just don’t have enough time/money/energy/resources to do such a thing right now.” After you’ve begun to awaken, it can start to feel like a part of you is dying each day that you turn your back on the powerful messages that your soul keeps trying to tell you. The excuses you’ve told yourself for several years no longer ease the pain of ignoring or avoiding what you know you need to do for your soul’s growth and expansion.

I think it’s helpful to remember that it’s a normal part of the awakening process to feel pain, sadness, anxiety, and/or confusion, especially in the beginning. Seeing yourself or the world in an entirely different light can be shocking for a while. When you finally move past the shock, there’s a good chance you will confront depression at some point. If you allow yourself time and patience, you will eventually adjust, gain more clarity, and get closer to accepting the dramatic changes you’ve experienced. It reminds me of the painful rebirthing process of the phoenix who dies by bursting into flames, and then it is reborn from the ashes. So go ahead, try to burn away any of the old parts of yourself and your life that don’t fit anymore so you can finally rise into your more authentic self.

What’s scarier? Taking the risk of dropping your old self, which could finally lead to happiness, success, inner peace, and fulfillment? Or settling for the security and comfort of your old life where there will likely be an underlying hint of dissatisfaction, regret, and a longing for something more?