Spiritual Awakening: Intense Fatigue & Identity Loss

I recently received a comment on an older blog post from someone who was seeking feedback on how to cope with the fatigue and loss of identity that occurs after a spiritual awakening. I think there are a lot more people who are experiencing these symptoms than we realize, so it seemed like now would be an appropriate time for a new blog post about these symptoms so that people can receive some validation for their challenges.

So of course each person’s awakening experience is unique, but there are certain patterns that frequently occur. A common experience is that someone will feel like they are progressing through life on a steady course. They have goals, desires, and dreams, yet they remain unconscious of how much society, culture, media, their family, and their peer group have influenced the decisions they’ve been making their entire life. They’ve built up an identity based on all this programming from external sources. Their main concern is with material, physical, worldly pursuits, and they are highly attached to their false identity, a.k.a. the conditioned ego. Then a particular event occurs in their life that causes the ego to crack open and eventually fall apart. Whether it’s a mystical experience, a near death experience, the death of a loved one, job loss, or a debilitating illness, something significant happens that causes the person to question their purpose, their role, their identity, and maybe even the meaning of existence.

When the ego cracks open, that’s when things often turn messy. There is suddenly so much uncertainty about everything. You may suddenly be asking yourself, “Who am I? What am I supposed to do now? What are we all doing here on Earth? Where do we go once our physical body ceases to function? Who/what created all of this? Why do people suffer? How do I make sense of this complicated mess called life? How can I function and maintain an identity now that everything seems like an illusion? How do I move forward and strive toward achieving goals, like I used to, now that everything suddenly seems so meaningless?” As awkward and uncomfortable as it feels to start questioning everything, it is a clear sign that you are evolving and trying to come back into alignment with truth. The process of deprogramming has begun.

If you have spent the majority of your life thinking of yourself one way, and now that old sense of self you created is falling apart, it’s no surprise that you feel pain and confusion. Your foundation has been knocked down, causing you to feel unstable and without a sense of belonging. You may feel fearful and insecure about your ability to go back to living an ordinary existence like everyone else. Your perspective on everything may be changing so rapidly that it’s hard to adjust and remain grounded in physical reality. At this point, people often get so desperate to return to the sense of control they felt when the ego was in charge that they will attempt to return to their old life or build a new identity. The problem is rebuilding an identity will no longer work in the way it used to. The reason it will feel like you’re chasing after a prize that doesn’t exist is because an identity truly does not exist. You know now that creating identities is a silly game that people play. Many are completely tricked by this game, but you have become disillusioned by now. The illusion that your ego is who you are has been shattered.

When you suffer, it is often because your ego is desperately grasping and aching to regain the dominant position, but those days are over now that you have expanded your awareness. Once you’ve expanded your awareness, you cannot contract it and pretend not to know what you now know. You can try to go into denial, but you won’t obtain inner peace and fulfillment by going down that path. Going back to what was familiar is likely to feel like a horrible fit for your new expanded awareness. It will feel so wrong to go back to the way you were. Maybe you can’t get any sense of direction about where you’re heading, but you know waking up has forever changed the course of your life.

Losing your sense of self can be very strange and/or painful. This experience can sometimes lead to ego death or the dark night of the soul. The dark night can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. Some say their dark night lasted for decades. I find it hard to give specific advice on how to get out of a dark night because, for one, I am still dealing with these challenges. I also think what works for some may not work for all. Even if I could predict a solution that would work for you, now may not be the best time to apply that solution. Awakening is a mysterious process, and no one can say with any certainty why some of us are going through this. It’s unfolding differently for each person, and in order to feel some sanity in all of this, I recommend that you try to be at peace with where you are instead of letting others advise you on what to do.

My recommendation is to remain patient. Let the process unfold. Keep learning. Keep expanding. Keep going within. Keep trusting your intuition and truth. See where this journey takes you. It might take you further into emptiness, confusion, panic, exhaustion, or isolation for a while longer, but maybe this challenging phase will serve its purpose in the end. When you feel inspired to act on something, then act, but it is best to avoid rushing ahead of the process and forcing things to happen out of fear or impatience. If you want to rest and withdraw most of the time, do what is necessary for your survival and then rest. If you want to read an endless amount of books and articles on spiritual topics to absorb as much knowledge as possible, then read. If you want to spend hours meditating, meditate. If you want to do nothing, do nothing. Try to stop putting judgments on what you think you should be doing right now. This is your path.

When you think about how hard it is to function, to socialize, or to stay grounded in reality, remind yourself that you are ok right now. It might feel like your world has fallen apart, but you are where you are right now. Remind yourself that you are being brave by diving completely into the process. It is no easy feat to drop your old life and begin navigating your way through so much uncertainty.

I have one last thing to say about the ego. I think on some level, we have to construct a form of identity in order to function in the 3D world, but a spiritual awakening causes you to lose attachment to your ego. When you play the silly game of creating identities, instead of deriving pleasure from it, you know you’re just playing a game. You know an identity is a false, temporal creation that can change from day to day or hour to hour or even minute to minute. The soul is much bigger than any label. I do not believe words can capture the totality of who we are and what all of this is.

Now, moving on to the other common symptom–chronic fatigue. As you lose your sense of purpose and are no longer able to derive any meaning about life, it can erase most or possibly all of your passions, which ultimately feels a lot like depression. Feeling confused and lacking inspiration will pull down your energy. Another theory of why fatigue occurs after awakening is because when the kundalini energy suddenly comes through the body, it can be too intense and burn out your endocrine/hormonal system. The thyroid and adrenal glands are most affected. It’s a good idea to research adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism to get an idea of whether you might be suffering from hormonal imbalances. Also, perhaps you have always been a highly sensitive person and therefore are less resilient at coping with stress, making you even more prone to suffering from stress-related ailments like chronic fatigue.

Potential solutions for fatigue are to get more rest, reduce stressful experiences while increasing pleasurable ones, connect with like-minded and supportive people, practice meditation and other relaxation techniques, engage in light to moderate exercise, eat nutrient dense foods, resolve nutrient deficiencies, experiment with supplements and herbs, find outlets for creativity and expression, make time for self-care, and avoid having expectations of when you hope to recover. Though it is no longer as intense or quite as debilitating, fatigue and low motivation are still issues for me. I try to be ok with the fact that this is still part of my reality. I’m not saying you should give up and surrender to the idea of being exhausted or unmotivated for the rest of your life. Life just flows easier when you can be proactive and consistently put in effort, yet you are also allowing your body to heal at its own pace.

I know how hard it is to be patient when fatigue becomes an everyday experience. I’m sorry to say that the awakening experience is not just about feeling peace, connection, and bliss all the time. If you are a real truth seeker and are willing to confront the darkness that exists within yourself and out in the world, it can get really messy and uncomfortable. The fatigue and low motivation are forcing us to stop participating in the external world. It’s allowing us to look within ourselves deeply enough to reach new levels of awareness. We’ve been playing as actors in the physical world. Now perhaps is the time to slow down so we can learn, heal, and discover who we really are. We can use this time to get in touch with our soul and listen to whatever messages it is trying to convey. It is time to follow our inner guidance and stop letting the voices all around us control the direction of our lives.

To the person who posted the comment related to identity loss and fatigue, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your difficulties with me. I hope all that I shared here helped in some kind of way, even if it only helped normalize what you have been feeling and thinking lately. Have faith that you will continue to be transformed in significant ways through your awakening experience. With time and patience, it becomes possible to feel less resistance to sitting with uncertainty.

To anyone who is dealing with a dark night of the soul, identity loss, or post-awakening fatigue, here are a few things I recommend that you explore:

The Awakening of Involution

The End of Your World by Adyashanti

Disillusionment as a Positive Process

Spiritual Awakening Symptom: Feeling Tired

Stages of a Spiritual Awakening: The Dark Night of the Soul

Dark Night of the Soul & How to Feel Better

7 Signs of the Dark Night of the Soul

Ram Dass – Dark Night of the Soul