Indigenous people have known about the occurrence of Soul Loss for millennia, and understand it as the result of an inner fragmentation caused by unawareness, a traumatic experience, or, an intense shock to the mind and body.
When we experience Soul Loss, a part of our Soul – or living essence – ‘hides’ or shuts away, hindering us from expressing and experiencing our true potential and wholeness as human beings. Often times entire aspects of our psyches are completely blocked out or repressed.
While for many of us Soul Loss may sound uncomfortably familiar, this experience is usually temporary, and with the proper Soul Work these lost elements of ourselves can be reintegrated into our lives.
What Is Soul Loss?
During my introduction to shamanism and the methods of ritualistic ‘soul retrieval‘, the basic understanding of Soul Loss that was expressed was that parts of our souls travel off into other realms, or alternate realities, sometimes being possessed by spirits. In the shamanistic perspective, when these parts of our souls are not recovered, we can’t seem to find inner completion or wholeness.
Before psychology, this explanation was the only way primal cultures could explain such a common phenomenon in order to find ways to treat it – and it was immensely effective.
Soul loss is in fact the rule rather than the exception. As individuals, unless we have become Awakened Souls we lose our soulful energy every time we identify with our ego’s; every time we seek to feel whole through addictions, stimulation seeking, dogmatic beliefs, conditional relationships, and workaholism.
Aside from our incapacity to feel whole, when we experience Soul Loss we begin experiencing feelings of weakness, fatigue, depression, anxiety and emptiness. We just know something is missing from our lives – but many of us struggle to discover what exactly is missing. To understand Soul Loss as a loss, or disconnection, from the most vital parts of who we are, is known in psychology as ‘dissociation‘ – a root of many mental maladies.
The Psychology Behind Soul Loss
Once we recognize our souls (or consciousness) as an intensity of energy – anything that creates a reduction in this energy will result in listlessness, moroseness, and depression.
To create an imbalance within the psyche is to allow the individual parts of the personality (e.g. the shadow self, anima, animus, etc.) to make themselves independent and thus escape the control of the conscious mind.
Psychologist Carl Jung understood this process as relating to our ‘psychic libido‘. Jung proposed that our psychological personalities were composed of different ‘complexes’ (or parts of our sense of self), and the primary one of those responsible for control over all the others was our ‘ego’ which is the mental image we have of ourselves, or what we believe ourselves to be. Our conscious energy can be weakened due to one of these ‘complexes’ escaping the control of our ego and becoming autonomous, therefore leeching all of our ‘psychic libido’ energy and creating a psychological imbalance that shatters our natural wholeness.
So what causes one of our psychological ‘complexes’ to emancipate itself and become a tyrannical usurper of consciousness? Often the answer is that identifying with something harmful, or experiencing a trauma of some kind creates this phenomenon.
An extreme example might help us understand better:
Imagine that a young child is molested or abused. In order to cope with the horrendous experience, the child escapes by disassociating, or detaching themselves, from the situation. In the process of protecting themselves, the child creates various alter ego’s, or entirely different personalities within themselves as a defense mechanism. In psychology, this is treated as “multiple personality disorder” (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder). It is easy to understand how tribal cultures would have perceived this as a loss of the Soul. But essentially, psychological disassociation is nature’s way of protecting our physical organism against intense trauma and loss by blocking these wounding situations out. In the end however, it is our responsibility to protect our spiritual organism, our soul.
But Soul Loss, or psychological disassociation, is not limited to these extreme cases and can be found in different degrees in most people. Addictions, eating disorders, identity disorders, post traumatic stress, depression, codependency, narcissism, low self-esteem, and adjustment disorders are all common causes for Soul Loss in our superficial, fast-paced, materialistic modern societies that are mostly devoid of all sense of sacredness.
A young woman who dreams of being an artist but has to live up to her parent’s expectations of being a doctor will lose a little bit of her soul, ignoring an essential part of her being. Or suppose the young woman does go ahead and follows her dream of being an artist, but deep down she still depends on her parent’s approval. She then either blames them to avoid taking responsibility for pursuing her passion, or she grows low in self-esteem because she is not accepted by them. This story might sound familiar to you.
Fortunately there are many ways of finding wholeness again. A lot of the material Luna and I write for LonerWolf is a form of ‘Soul Retrieval”, where we help you to become aware of aspects within yourself that you may have been ignoring. We do this by encouraging the development of authenticity, for self-exploration, self-love and self-transformation.
Next, you will be able to apply this knowledge of Soul Loss to yourself. Are you experiencing it?
Signs You Might Be Experiencing Soul Loss
There are a variety of physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms pertaining to Soul Loss. When we experience Soul Loss – or parts of our soul ‘hiding away’ or disassociating from us – the result is a loss in soulful energy, or the very vitality of our lives. This loss of energy prevents us from living healthy, fulfilling and creative lives. Sometimes Soul Loss can last for a whole lifetime, resulting in the development of a self-destructive person who we often refer to as a “Lost Soul” in our language.
To recover these lost parts of ourselves, and to become balanced, whole and centered once again, we must first identify the symptoms of Soul Loss within us. Below you will find some of the most common symptoms:
- Memories and parts of your life have been blocked out.
- You experience strong periods of depression.
- Parts within yourself feel missing or broken.
- You experience a general numbness to life.
- Constant feelings of fear or anxiety plague you.
- You go through long periods of insomnia.
- You feel lost or incomplete.
- You feel like a ‘different person’ after a shocking or traumatic life event.
- You feel stuck or incapable of overcoming a certain issue in your life.
- You feel disappointed with life.
- You feel as though there are multiple “selves” within you.
- You try to escape by turning to alcohol, drugs, sex, television, or excessive busyness.
- You feel unworthy of being loved.
- You are experiencing a dark night of the soul.
- You want to find your purpose and meaning in life.
- You feel like your daily life is meaningless and task-driven.
- You avoid feeling vulnerable and keep others at a distance.
- You long for wholeness and a sense of belonging.
- You sometimes feel that you’re not in control of yourself.
- You constantly feel mentally or physically fatigued for no medical reason.
- You thirst for authenticity and complete acceptance of yourself.
Finding the fragments that are lost and restoring them in your life is to return to your innate wholeness, to restore the essential vitality that is your Soul. To learn to slowly reintegrate the lost elements of your Soul through the practice of soulwork is to live a life of mindful, heart-centered and bodily alignment.