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 came 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 and uncertainties that are usually part of the awakening process. It’s easy for others to trivialize our struggles as they remain in their comfort zone.

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 overwhelmed, I encourage you to hear Kelli’s thoughts about waking up. Here is her 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 old beliefs, to drop your old identity, to step foot on an entirely different path, and to abandon practically everything that was familiar in order to embrace something entirely new, unexpected, and different. For some people, change is exciting. For others, it creates feelings of anxiety and/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 who are waking up, there is a strong sense of loneliness and isolation. As we are gaining a new perspective on life, it’s sometimes really difficult to be around people who can’t understand us anymore. We don’t want to talk about the same old things anymore, and yet the people we have known for so long are not going through an awakening yet, so they can’t relate to us and the thoughts we share. Even if you’re not resisting these inevitable changes that are occurring in your relationships, it’s normal to be sad that everything is changing so quickly and that you are losing these connections with people that used to be so important and enjoyable to you. You may know on an intellectual level that the ending of old relationships can create space for the beginning of new ones that are a better match for you, but I know firsthand how difficult it is to stay excited in that transition phase where the new connections have not been found yet.

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 to cope and adapt, 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? Is everything going ok?” There is already enough whirlwind of change going on inside that having the added stress of conflict in relationships just compounds these issues.

And perhaps some of you have tried to reach out to a friend or family member to tell them more about what you are experiencing because you feel quite alone and overwhelmed, yet they appear completely clueless about everything you just said. It’s painful when you were just hoping for a little validation or some level of understanding from someone. 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. There is a painful realization in the beginning that maybe you can’t really talk about these things with anyone you know. Sometimes opening up to people who can’t understand creates more loneliness than just keeping your thoughts and experiences to yourself.

The sense of isolation can increase when you’re going through a big transformation, and it appears that everyone around you remains unchanged and unconcerned with anything beyond their personal needs and desires. Maybe you are beginning to see beyond illusions and want to live a happier, more meaningful life that is focused on helping others in some way, yet your friends continue living their old lives and seem content with same old meaningless distractions that no longer satisfy you. You don’t want to focus anymore on fashion, sports, celebrity gossip, tv shows, video games, etc. Sometimes you might try to get others excited about your new interests that you find more meaningful, but they’ll 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 world. 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 in your life 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 same 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 different, something that is more 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 if we travel on a new path. 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/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 when you turn your back on the powerful messages that your soul keeps trying to tell you. The excuses you’ve told yourself for so long 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 confusion, especially in the beginning. Seeing yourself or the world in an entirely different light can be shocking. When you finally move past the shock and realize you need to let go of everything that’s no longer meant for you, there’s a chance you will experience depression at some point. If you stay patient and let things unfold naturally, you will eventually adjust, gain more clarity, and get closer to accepting the dramatic changes you’ve experienced. It’s a lot like the painful rebirthing process of the phoenix who dies by bursting into flames, and then it is reborn from the ashes. We need to burn away any of the old parts that don’t fit anymore so we can finally rise into our authentic selves.

There is the risk of dropping your former life and your old identity, which could finally lead to more happiness, success, inner peace, and fulfillment. Or you could stay comfortable and keep settling for the safety and security of your old life where there will likely be an underlying hint of dissatisfaction, regret, and a longing for something more. You know when your soul is calling for change. Will you listen?




10 thoughts on “Is a spiritual awakening a traumatic experience?

  1. Karin February 4, 2016 / 3:48 PM

    Great post! I can relate to all of your points. Thanks for sharing the lively video.
    The world is mad. And those who regain their sanity in this psychic ward are going to have a hard time when they don’t fit in anymore after waking up. It is good to have other people who have gon through this, too, and who understand.


    • awakenfromthedream February 6, 2016 / 5:30 AM

      I love that analogy you used. Sometimes this place really does seem like an insane asylum where the “normal” ones who are controlling everything are the truly insane ones, and the outsiders/misfits/non-conformists in society who get labeled by everyone as mentally ill and crazy might be the sanest of all!

      “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

      Thanks for commenting, Karin 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. nagia February 7, 2016 / 5:52 PM

    When I read your articles ,your thoughts and ideas I feel more ”normal” and relieved that there are others who go through the same situations!!!I am so glad I run into your post that day. I have been going through this identity-existential crisis the last months where I woke up one morning, realised I am a human being with dreams, interests and wishes and there is no point in living if I am not going to pursue them.
    However it is as you said a really difficult transition.. On one hand I miss my old responsible, super serious nerdy self and on the other hand I want to try new things and discover other aspects of my personality and it is extremely frustrating at times. I mean I want others to take me seriously but I can’t stand anymore either their demureness or their fake excitement, so I behave as I feel..( maybe I shouldn’t). For example, I have a ”tranquil?” presence(like most infj’s) and it is often mistaken as weakness and submissiveness and it drives me mad when people make conclusions about who you are! I myself don’t even know where exactly i stand and what my path is and to have ”friends” tell you, you can’t make it , you are too timid, or make fun of your pursuits(like trying out different options or volunteering ,psychology helping in the lawforce, stories, photography etc ) makes me SOOOO aggravated!!( there are however exceptions thankfully 🙂
    Also about your other post I agree with you. I too set the bar really high and I can’t stand meaningless small talk for hours. A bad habit I have is that ( as you said about judgment) even though I can figure a person out fast ,if that person decides to approach me I will be friendly at first but then I get fed up, cold and disregard them…(not rude but you know..)
    I would love to read more about your awakening, your goals and how you deal with it! (sometimes I get too depressed and feel like there is no point in anything and that I am stuck in a vicious circle because of that, so it would be nice to hear more about the way you face these ups and downs).
    This is sort of irrelevant, but would you mind sharing more about your career choices ,like how did you decide what you wanted to be( I read your previous article and I was wondering where you are now), and your thoughts on ”love” ( maybe it is a silly subject for you, but as I have high expectations about friends imagine my expectations on that department. At this point I feel it is more possible for me to become president than be in a romantic relationship. Is everyone crazy in a bad way ..or am I too conservative and out of this world?)

    Anyway ,sorry for the long rant once again (it could get worse) and I hope I will hear from you. Best wishes!


    • awakenfromthedream February 8, 2016 / 8:46 AM

      Hi again Maria,

      It’s good to hear from you 🙂 A full-blown existential crisis can be a scary thing because I often find that there is no real solution for it….except to be patient until you can discover some kind of personal meaning to life once again. I sometimes get caught in those endless loops of questions like, “Why are we really here?”, “What is the point of anything we do?”, “Who/What put us here?”, “Why does the universe exist?”, “Has the universe always existed?”, etc. Those huge questions that are terribly difficult for our human minds to comprehend have sent me into moments of panic, unease, and even depression. Some people claim to know the answers to those questions I just mentioned, but really, no one knows with absolute certainty about anything. We might understand more once our soul leaves the physical and enters the spirit realm, but for now we have to keep living life while having all those questions unanswered, which can be very challenging at times. I think this is a big part of why people constantly stay distracted and engage in a lot of the small talk. It keeps them within their safe comfort zone where they don’t have to face the discomfort of questioning the meaning of everything.
      I am currently working towards a certification in holistic nutrition because I discovered the healing power of food. While I was in college working towards degrees, I knew that I wanted to help people in some kind of way, but I could never find that one subject or approach that filled me with passion. I finally found that passion when I transformed my own diet and solved chronic health problems during graduate school.
      To sum up my thoughts on love: it’s a beautiful thing to give and receive. Finding a good match is not easy, but I feel like we discover our soul mates when the timing is just right. Sometimes the struggle of finding the right person helps us appreciate them even more when they finally show up.
      Oh, and don’t worry about leaving long comments. I truly enjoy reading about what other people out there are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. I don’t know how well I answered your questions, so I will shoot an email your way soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Emily February 15, 2018 / 10:21 PM

    Thank you for sharing. I have so many of these problems too atm, do you have any opinion on whether or not the problems we identify are real? Say if you always experience that people have blunted awareness….is that just a perception we have according to beliefs we have about their behaviour at any one time? Or does it always exist? I am so confused and definitely feel distance from people. I am so grateful for your work:)


    • awakenfromthedream February 16, 2018 / 10:11 AM

      Hi Emily,

      I believe these problems we are experiencing are very real. If you feel like people around you are living on the surface, mostly unconscious, not connected to their spiritual self, and even lacking awareness of their motives and feelings, I really don’t think that is a false perception of reality. We are encouraged in many ways to become desensitized, distracted, and attached to material reality with the obsession of making money, consuming, and keeping up a certain image to impress others. It is not too common to encounter people who are truly in tune, but I know rather quickly when someone is. People who are conscious and more connected to the non-material than the average person have a unique energy about them and a depth and warmth in their eyes. With a lot of people, I can sense they either don’t have much depth due to a lack of reflection about themselves, or there are blocks they have probably unconsciously put up to keep themselves locked in a comfort zone. It’s rather hard to explain in words, but as a highly sensitive person who has been becoming more aware and connected to my inner knowing, it’s easy to tell when someone radiates energy that feels expansive and more in tune. As we become more conscious, it becomes more apparent how unconscious we used to be and how disconnected and unconscious others around us still are. Please don’t doubt your perceptions or feelings or worry that you are passing judgement onto others. It is not difficult to understand why many people have a blunted awareness. Waking up wouldn’t be quite so strange and challenging for us if people talked openly about these things in the mainstream, but I don’t think the majority can understand or relate.
      I hope I was able to clarify or validate your experiences. Thank you for commenting 🙂


      • Emily Berlin February 17, 2018 / 4:01 AM

        Hi, thank you for your highly thoughtful response, it makes absolute sense to me. Sometimes it is a little confusing as at the moment my beliefs are constantly being changed and cleansed so I am seeing super positive people one moment and then back to the old reflections the next. And that’s what I’ve been confused about, but you are certainly right about people being disconnected- That there is something deeper- Absolutely, thank you for clarifying. I am really pleased and grateful that you responded! Thank You:)


      • awakenfromthedream February 17, 2018 / 11:11 AM

        You’re very welcome. It’s totally ok that you’re feeling confused. Some days feel light, easy, people are pleasant, and things flow and make better sense. Then the next day can feel like an uphill battle where you’re feeling disappointed or frustrated by what you see in yourself and/or others. No need to force ourselves to feel anything other than what we’re feeling in the moment. It’s ok to question beliefs or why we feel the way we do, but I find it helpful to acknowledge that there are going to be a lot of shifts and ups and downs as we evolve through the awakening process.


  4. Cinnamon March 22, 2018 / 11:19 AM

    Yes, this has been my experience as well, that I cannot relate to old friends, family. With some I still stay connected, but as you say, there is so much pain felt in the moments where there is the realisation that they don’t get it. In my experience people always say they get it. And then they tell you something which is completely different from what you were trying to explain.

    Also the pain comes from a deeper level in my experience, something like, feeling that the connection with the person is not real. Like there is so much fakeness there, and it’s so painful. Maybe there is the desire to connect to Life, or the Infinite, or whatever you name it, and then there is the realisation that it’s not there. In the connection. I don’t know.

    What seems helpful for me is to always turn the “judgement” around to myself, and ask myself questions. If I feel that the other person is fake, doesn’t get it, etc, turn it around and see what kind of resistance is here, in me, that creates this perception of suffering. And there is usually something there…


    • awakenfromthedream March 22, 2018 / 4:35 PM

      What I have come to realize during these past few years is that once you’ve committed yourself to a spiritual path and devote a lot of your time to questioning your life, existence, reality, etc., you will naturally separate yourself from people who are more content to stay on the surface of life. There doesn’t have to be any judgment about that. Some people are uninterested or feel scared to look any deeper beyond the surface. They may not know how to handle something real, including their true emotions, so they suppress everything and seek distractions. That is simply their preference and perhaps their coping strategy. They will relate best to others who choose to stay on the surface and don’t question much. This does not mean we can’t interact with these people. We just need to stay aware of their limits and preferences. We can meet people where they are and enjoy whatever level of connection we can achieve with that person. Of course, these won’t be the ideal connections that truly feed our heart and soul. If we want a more meaningful connection, we have to search among the small population of people who’ve delved deep enough within themselves that they will understand and relate as we share our experiences.


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