Navigating the Dark Night of the Soul: A Path to Spiritual Awakening

We're going to dive deep into my personal spiritual journey—a journey of how I went from absolutely hating my body, my job and my life to loving every aspect of myself and my life as I travel the world full-time building my own brain hacking brand.

Feels like a full circle moment to help people through their darkest days into full acceptance of themselves and helping them propel to their most aligned goals.

So how’d I go from being a self berating perfectionist crying on the bike ride back from an Improv class to the most free, confident, fulfilled version of myself who travels the world teaching how to rewire the pathways in our brains?

Well, it is a good tale. So, let’s launch into it.


Me, in Chicago, after quitting my corporate job before flying out to Bali, Indonesia on a one-way ticket

What is a Dark Night of the Soul?

4 years ago now, I found myself in what many call a 'dark night of the soul.'

Glennon Doyle speaks so eloquently about this in her book Carry On, Warrior.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in Eat Pray Love, as well as Nicole Le Pera, also known as the Holistic Psychologist.

This dark night of the soul idea is not something new.

Many of us go through it. And truthfully, if you’re reading this right now, you’re probably also going through it to some extent.

You’re drawn to changing your brain for a reason.

You’re waking up to the fact that the life you’ve been living isn’t necessarily the life that you want to be living.

It was a life that others wanted for you.

Society wanted for you. Family wanted for you.

The environment you grew up in shaped you.

And you didn’t necessarily get a say.

Your brain got wired a certain way, and you’re the one who has to live with it now 24/7, and now you’re waking up and you’re like…wait? How did I get here? I don’t really want to be here?

Sooooo what do I do now?

Stuck in a cubicle even though I knew that an office job wasn't for me, but I didn't know what to do.

Stage 1 - The Build Up

Which is a great place to be. And I commend you for being here because this is where change happens.

So for me, I grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago where it felt like everything was keeping up with the Jones’.

Even though it wasn’t a particularly small town, it felt like everyone was talking.

At all times.

What clothes you were wearing, what friend group you were in, how much money your family made, what classes you were taking.

I felt this immense pressure to prove myself.

That my worth was based on my accomplishments, how little I could make myself, and how polite I could be. I didn’t stray from the path because that was my ticket for validation.

For love. For acceptance. If other people thought I was perfect, then maybe it could be true.

I remember picking myself apart all the time.

Looking in the mirror and just constantly judging.

I had horrible body dysmorphia and I never liked what I saw.

In the peak of my misery desperately trying to love myself.

I desperately needed validation from others, but when they gave it to me, I didn’t believe them.

No amount of compliments could satiate my hunger for being validated. For being told I was good enough.

And when I was being perfect, being popular amongst many different friend groups in junior high and high school, getting straight As in some of the hardest classes, being MVP on not 1 but 2 sports teams, and dating some of the most sought after guys in school, yet still people talked about me.

I should’ve realized then, that none of it matters.

That you can fit perfectly in the box, but it still will never be enough. People will always find something to pick at.

I always found something to pick at.

And at what point would it be enough? At what weight would I look at myself and think, wow I can finally love my body?

At what income level would I say, wow I have finally made it?

The answer is I always wanted more.

Nothing was ever enough.

I was in this cycle of beating myself up to prove to my brain that I was right. That I’d never be good enough.

This lasted for many many years.

The job that I had outside of college didn’t help.

FREE Gratitude Masterclass

Have you been feeling frustrated with your life unable to find anything to be grateful for lately?

Are you ready to learn all about gratitude in order to find more joy and raise your vibration?

In this FREE Attitude of Gratitude Masterclass, you'll learn how to fully utilize the power of gratitude in order to bring more fulfillment into your life.  

You'll leave feeling calm, peaceful and connected to yourself in just 45 minutes!


Stage 2 - Living in a Life You Don't Want

You see, I feel like my whole life we were taught to always look toward the next thing.

When we were learning to read in 1st grade it was because we would read chapter books in 2nd grade.

And when we were learning multiplication in 3rd grade, it was because we’d be doing pre-algebra in fourth grade.

And high school was to prepare us for college. And college was to prepare us for the “real world.”

So after college, I got a corporate job in Chicago.

This had been everything that I had dreamed of.

Living in my own apartment with my best friends downtown in the city, with a big girl job, and big girl money.

This was it.

In front of my apartment that I worked so hard to pay for in Chicago.

This was supposed to be the pinnacle of everything that I worked so hard for. Yet, I was miserable.

I was bored to tears in my job.

Yet, people pleasing, perfectionist, hard working me, tried to take on tons of work to show that I was valuable.

And within 11 months, I got an 18% raise which was quite unheard of at that company.

I was doing events for tradeshows and conferences, and just hated sitting at my desk.

I remember I would call vendors and instead of talking about business, I wanted to hear about their lives. I wanted to hear about their thoughts and what was really going on behind the scenes.

I hated the professional masks that we all had to wear.

I wanted to be my goofy, fun, free-spirited self, but instead I had to show up to the office with my hair dry, my heels on, and a smile on my face pretending that I actually gave a shit about these events that I was completely removed from.

After work, I’d rush to the gym so I could judge my body more and then I’d try to cook some kind of dinner, but I was so stressed and anxious that I suffered from horrible IBS, so after everything I ate my stomach was just in a huge flare up, which played on my confidence, my body image and my moods.

It was a vicious cycle.

It got to the point where I was crying every day.

Because I felt trapped in my job with this weird pressure to do well and pretend to enjoy being put in the professional box of someone that I was not.

At this point 95% of my thoughts were negative.

I’d go on competitions with myself of how mean I could be and send myself into a crying fit. I was dating a ton.

To the point where I started a small dating blog that I sent out emails to my friends.

But dating was mostly me just trying to get validation from men.

That I was cool, smart, successful, and beautiful.

It felt like a weird game, and my emotions were all over the place when I deemed someone perfect for me and then it all would fall apart because I didn’t have the techniques to manage my emotions.

I was just a crumpled up pile of anxiety and stress with a severe anxious attachment.

I was weirdly addicted to the sadness.

To the story that I was miserable.

And I thought I was going to be miserable forever.

Now, I know that this sadness became my comfort zone, and even though as much as I hated it, it was hard to get out.

Because that became my norm.

I always say now that in order to get out of the slump, that hopelessness, you need something to jolt you awake.

I love using Neuton’s law for this.

An object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by another force.

You will stay in your slump, until something happens where you no longer can take it anymore. AKA experiencing a dark night of the soul.

For me, strangely enough my spiritual journey starts with an improv class.

After one of my sketch comedy shows at Second City in Chicago.

Stage 3 - The Spiritual Awakening

I’ve always had an affinity toward improv, theater, and script writing.

In an effort to balance out the hatred of my job, I signed up for an improv class.

I loved it.

But my good ole brain, looooved comparing myself to everyone else.

After every improv skit, I would judge myself on how well I did.

I get it, self improvement. We’re trying to make ourselves better, but how I was doing it was completely disparaging.


Because it wasn’t under the context of “oh hey, here’s how you can get better, how exciting that there’s room for improvement, we’re just going to have fun and enjoy the journey along the way.”

No, it was more disheartening like I was my own bully.

“Omg you’re not funny at all. You’re horrible at this. You’re never going to be good enough.”

And one day, I had to miss an improv class, and part of the deal was that if you miss a class, you can do a make up class at another time with a completely different group of people.

I wrote and acted in a sketch comedy show in Chicago.

So, I vividly remember going to that make up class, and I didn’t know anyone.

So you’d think I wouldn’t give a shit what these people thought of me, but nope, comparison mode was tripled.

After every word out of my mouth I was judging myself and beating myself down.

Looking back, I wasn’t even that bad!

I actually was saying some pretty funny stuff, but my mind wouldn’t believe it.

Have you ever been complimented but you couldn’t accept the compliment because deep down you wouldn’t allow yourself to believe it?

No matter how funny someone told me I was, I was determined to not believe it.

Anywho, after the class, I vividly remember riding one of the city bikes home in the dark in the rain crying my eyes out.


Because I had beaten myself down so much so, that I felt worthless, not good enough for anyone or anything and completely obliterated my confidence.

I got home and I cried on my bathroom floor.

Like a merciless cry. Like a dramatic rom com main character who just gets broken up with and has a soul wrenching cry kind of cry.

It was like I was crying for all the times I tried to hold it together.

All from an improv class.

It was this moment that I swore to myself that I couldn’t go on like this.

So what did I do?

I made an action plan.

Join the Freedom Fast Track Membership!

Do you feel like your negative thoughts are controlling your life? 

Are you ready to finally find peace and joy in your life?

Learn the fundamental tools to change your neural pathways to live a more joyous, liberating and satisfying life in a group cohort that will hold you accountable toward your goals.

Let's figure out your goals together and see if this is a great fit for you. Book a call for a FREE Goal Setting Session.


Stage 4 - How to Get Through the Dark Night - The Execution of a Different Life Path

I swore that I could not stay in my corporate job anymore.

I'd always been so interested in traveling the world.

I studied abroad in Seville, Spain and absolutely loved it.

So I said, you know what?

Why don't I go teach English in Thailand?

After working at my corporate job, I would go study and got my teaching English as a second language certification.  

I would wake up at 5am to teach English online before I started work.

I had seen friends do this before and absolutely love it.

So I wanted to try it out too.

I planned all of this stuff for Thailand. I was even learning Thai in the quiet room at my corporate job when I didn't have a lot of work going on.

So I said to myself: I'm going to go to Thailand.

I'm going to teach English and you know what, I'm going to go get my yoga certification in Bali before I go to Thailand, because why not?

I've always wanted to get my yoga certification and really go in depth and this is the time to do it.

If I'm going to quit my job and travel the world, I might as well make a pit stop in Bali.

The last day of my yoga training in Bali, Indonesia.

What unraveled for me was absolute beauty and magic.

So I did my yoga certification in Bali, Indonesia, and on the last day of the training was when the world shut down in 2020, the pandemic hit.

COVID happened and everyone started freaking out.

I ended up staying in Bali because of course all of the classrooms shut down and I had a choice.

I was like, well, I could stay in Bali and try and figure it out, or I can go home to Chicago where I'm now unemployed because I quit my job. I gave up my apartment.

I ended up finding this Airbnb in Bali with this woman who is a therapist from the UK and she'd been living in Bali for 10 years and I ended up locking down with her for nine months where we had deep conversations about life and my past and unraveling all the stories and conditioning that had been put on me.

And I dove into the world of  Pranic energy healing.

I studied under different Balinese priests, doing different meditations with them.

I learned from different spiritual mentors.

I studied lots and lots of science because I love the brain.

I am such a science geek and nerd. I love learning about how the brain works, but I also love the spirituality aspect of it because I feel like that was what was missing from my life of really truly being fulfilled.

So now I love putting the two together because I watched my brain do a complete 180.

Stage 5 - Seeing the Change & Get Out of the Dark

I started to love my body.

I loved my personality.

I was seeing my own magic, which was so crazy for the first time in my life.

Thoughts that I had before weren't even accessible to my brain anymore.

It was like I could think the thought, but there was no emotion attached to it.

And so that's why I'm so, so, so passionate about this work because I know that you can change your brain.

You can rewire your brain.

Through your own neural networks.

So I want to give you a neuro nugget.

Our brains can change due to neuroplasticity.

What is neuroplasticity?

It's basically how our brains are malleable, in the sense that you can learn new things every day.

You aren't going to stay the same from when you're born to when you die.

Things shift, things change.

I want you to know that you don't have to be stuck.

You can fully change your mindset, which is going to change your circumstances.


Full circle moment - seeing this flower bath from a friend who went on a trip to Bali and actually doing it myself. Committing to the promise I made myself.

Because your thoughts play a role on your actions.

And then your actions turn into behaviors, which turn into habits, which then spiritually start to  magnetize different energy, different things into your life.

Your brain can change where you are now does not have to be where you are in a year.

And that's why in the beginning I said, this is such a great place to be because it's so exciting that you're taking the first step to actually change your brain.

And by reading this, you're building new neural pathways.

You're either strengthening a neural network or creating a new one.

So you can strengthen old thought patterns that aren't serving you, or you can learn new science and new things about spirituality or new skill and have new thoughts.

In the case of the dark night of the soul, it's triggered by some external conditioning you've developed throughout your life.

Now it's time to take control of your actions to create the life you're deeply connected to and let go of your old self.

This will help you find a deeper sense of purpose and build a life that is not dependent on the external conditioning.

The Awakening Process - Try This Brain Hack:

Here's a brain hack of the day to get you through your dark night of the soul and create a sense of purpose or connectedness.

As you go through this process, your life will feel different from the previous version of yourself.

If you want to create a new neural pathway today, you have to do something new.

So now I'm gonna give you homework.

Do something new.

Take a new route to work.

Cook something different.

Look up a new recipe.

Learn something different.

Learn a word in a different language.

And that's creating these new neural networks.

Or think a new thought, maybe you've been struggling financially and you're like, Oh, I can never make enough money.

What would it feel like to think, you know what, actually I could make enough money?

Or if you think that you're not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, what if you were to think, you know what, actually I accept myself the way that I am?

How does that feel in your body?

Watch where the brain goes.

Do you believe it?

Do you not?

How can you infuse kinder thoughts as you do this new activity?

Are you hard on yourself like I was in the improv class or are you your own biggest cheerleader?

How can you be your own biggest cheerleader?

A little bit more allowing yourself to fully take on this new thing and not having to be good at it.

Enjoying the journey as you go because you're creating these new neural pathways and you've never made them before so giving yourself some grace, giving yourself some love and laughing it off.

Enjoy the progress you're making and have fun on this little rollercoaster that we call life.

Even if it feels like small change, trust that you're creating a transformed state of consciousness in the mind and by choosing new neural networks, your life is slowly shifting.

Freebie - Propel to Productivity Mini Course

With the dark night of the soul comes meaning and purpose. Yet, it may not feel like that right away.

At first, you may feel a deep sense of meaninglessness and you are searching for a sense of clarity.

Yet, people who've gone through this transformation, on the other side say it was the dark night of the soul that was the turning point in their life.

So, if you're going through a dark night of the soul, I want to gift you my free Propel to Productivity mini course that will help you through any kind of spiritual depression.

My Propel to Productivity Mini Course is valued at $497, but since you found this blog post - I'm giving it to you as a free present.

<< To get started, you can apply for the mini course here. >>

It's super thorough and I will take you through all of the reasons why you might be procrastinating towards your goals.

And I give you this unique framework to take the first step.

It is time to finally start living the life that you really want instead of feeling stuck.

And I hope this gives you a little bit of insight and it shows you my story and I'm exhibit A, that you totally can do it.

If I can do it, you can do it too.

And I'm here to support you all along the way.

Fulfillment Fast Track Summary

Wow, we've covered a lot.

Let's sum up all the key takeaways that you can bring with you in your life today.

First point, use your low point as a springboard.

What do I mean by this?

When you feel the dark night of the soul is taking over your life, remember it isn't a dead end.

It's not like, oh my goodness, I just cried my heart out and I'm going to be miserable forever and nothing's going to change.

Actually it's super exciting because you can use this dark night of the soul as a springboard for transformation.

You can use this energy of, wow, I don't want my life to be like this to actually start to take new action. Like we said, doing something new.

So hopefully you are jolted awake and you realize your comfort zone is not comfortable anymore.

You've had enough. So you're going to take a new action and bring about a spiritual awakening.

Next is embracing the flow of your journey.

So you can craft a tentative plan, but leave room for the unexpected magic of life.

I mean, I thought I was literally going to be a teacher in Thailand. I had a whole five year plan. I was going to teach in Thailand for a year, and then teach in South Korea for a year, and then come home and move to Denver.

I figured that that was the plan and that Denver would make me happy.  

Here I am literally in Guatemala, teaching yoga in a beautiful studio and having brain hacking clients.

Teaching at Eagle's Nest in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

I did not know that this was going to be my life.

So leave room for the unexpected magic and embrace the spontaneity and allow your path to unfold organically.

Next is neuroplasticity in action.

Your brain is so capable of change. So when you take action, know that you are changing the brain.

You're creating new neural pathways.

Remember, you're either strengthening neural pathways or you're creating new ones. So, think a new thought, take a new step, do a new route to work.

Eat something new, whatever it is.

Maybe you dance around, maybe you sing, something that's new right after listening to this.

I hope that inspires you. And I hope you can let me know what you actually did.

I would love, love, love, love to hear from you.

And then lastly, feel free to join my free mini course, Propel to Productivity.

We've got a great community here, and so I'd love to gift this to you so that you can start taking the first action step towards your goal.

Thank you so much for joining me today to learn all about the stages of the dark night of the soul.

If you're wanting to hear an audio version of this blog post, feel free to check out my podcast Radically Rewired on all streaming platforms.

So grateful you're here and it's a pleasure to have you in my community.

If you're as passionate about rewiring your brain and letting your soul shine as I am, subscribe to my newsletter.

Let's continue on this transformative journey together, my friends.

Until next time, keep rewiring, keep thriving, and keep shining.

Lots of love,


Hi! I'm Nikki. A brain hacking mentor on a mission to help you optimize your mindset to achieve your goals and live a fulfilling and joyous life.

Start Your Yoga Journey

Are you wanting to tap into your body and mind by practicing yoga but have no idea where to start? 

I’ve made it easy for you to learn the basics of yoga poses in 5 short days.

For 5 days, you'll receive an email with 3 videos on how to do basic yoga poses. Then, you can practice those poses with a 15-minute sequence that combines them all.

On day 5, celebrate with a 30-minute yoga flow!

The best way to ease into yoga. Perfect for beginners.

In this free yoga challenge over 5 days, you will: 
  • Learn 12 basic yoga poses
  • Practice the poses in four 15-minute gentle yoga sequences
  • Connect deeper to your mind and body through 5 different journal prompts
  • Finish the challenge with a 30-minute flow
  • Gain more confidence in your yoga practice
  • Have access to a global yoga community