Our entire culture suffers from what the shamans call “soul loss,” a loss of meaning, direction, vitality, mission, purpose, identity, and genuine connection; a deep unhappiness that most of us have come to consider as simply ordinary. The soul is our source of absolute uniqueness, a place within that connects you not only to your own value and essence, but to the value and essence of every other living being. What makes soul loss so subtle and dangerous is that very few people have realized that it has happened. Most of us do not know that we have disconnected from our soul and have come to accept as normal a numbness and lack of meaning in our lives.
Because we all belong to this culture, we all suffer from soul loss. Soul loss is epidemic and blinds us from seeing the potential for joy and wholeness in ordinary life. When you heal from soul loss, you see familiar things in new ways so you can increase your joy in what you already have.
Not sure if you’re suffering from soul loss?
Here are 20 diagnostic signs that signal soul loss:
1. You feel like you’re not as good as other people.
2. You yearn to be of service, but you have no idea what you have to contribute and why it matters.
3. You find yourself striving in vain for an impossible-to-achieve standard of perfection.
4. Your fears keep you from living large.
5. You’re frequently worried that you’re not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, young enough, [fill in the blank] enough.
6. You feel like a victim of circumstances that are beyond your control.
7. You feel like your daily life is meaningless and task-driven.
8. You often feel helpless, hopeless, or pessimistic.
9. You protect your heart with steel walls.
10. You often feel you don’t really matter and your love doesn’t make a difference.
11. You’re always trying to fit in and belong, but you rarely feel like you do.
12. You feel beaten down by the challenges you face in your life.
13. You suffer from a variety of vague, hard to treat physical symptoms, such as fatigue, chronic pain, weight gain or loss, insomnia, skin disorders, or gastrointestinal symptoms.
14. You struggle with being able to accept love and nurturing.
15. You feel depressed, anxious, or chronically worried.
16. You feel like you’re not appreciated enough.
17. You find yourself often judging others.
18. You frequently numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, s*x, television, or excessive busyness.
19. You feel disappointed with life.
20. You’ve forgotten how to dream.
How Soul Loss Shows Up At The Doctor’s Office
As a physician, I’ve had years of experience diagnosing soul loss in my patients, but Western medicine has no framework for this kind of diagnosis, and as doctors, we’re not taught to treat this kind of suffering, so we wind up mistreating it. What people suffering from soul loss need is the deep medicine of reconnection with the soul, but in our culture, we tend to treat soul loss too superficially.
We treat the chronic pain with pain medication. We treat the insomnia with sleeping pills. We treat the weight issues with diet and exercise. And most damagingly, we may label soul loss as mental illness, such as depression, and cover up the symptoms with psychiatric medications that may make things worse by slapping a Band-aid on a wound that’s not healing underneath the bandage.
The Treatment You Really Need
Sometimes the soul needs space in order to heal, and this may require the courage to make some external changes in your life. Perhaps you need to switch careers in order to give the soul more room to breathe. Perhaps an unhealthy relationship is constricting the soul, and it’s time to get into therapy, set boundaries, or even end things. Perhaps you need to find more people to love or relocate to a place that helps your soul come alive. Perhaps you need to give your soul permission to engage in more creative activities. Such eternal changes may be part of the prescription the inner doctor of your soul writes.
But very often, those kinds of major life overhauls are NOT NECESSARY! Reconnecting to the soul allows you to find peace and happiness right where you are in ways that are much simpler and more profound than you might think. It can be astounding to discover that you’ve had what you needed all along and have been looking in all the wrong places. Perhaps all that is needed is to see the life you’re already living in a different way.