If you often feel like a centuries-old soul trapped in a twenty-something body, you’re not alone. Regardless of what your belief systems may be, it’s undeniable that there are certain people who are dealt very difficult cards in life and they reap hard-earned insights from their adversity. We call these people by many names: trauma survivors, wounded warriors, “old souls,” empaths, misfits, outsiders.
Whatever label they fall under, their souls feel absolutely ancient and there is often a great deal of personal obstacles that come with their journey. They go through life constantly in search of a place that feels like “home” – mentally, physically and spiritually.
Old souls have to play the hell out of the cards they’ve been dealt in order to tap into the wisdom of this lifetime. Here are the eleven life-changing truths old souls learn – the hard way:
1. You are here to break the cycle.
Whether it be generational abuse, harmful beliefs passed down from parent to child or toxic habits that have plagued you for what seems like a lifetime, you were not meant to live a life repeating the same dysfunctional patterns that have hindered your peace of mind time and time again.
Whatever destructive patterns you’re engaging in, it’s fruitful to understand how the cycle first began and how it was cemented, over and over again into a seemingly endless loop. Doing so can be counterintuitive, because it means not giving up the pattern cold turkey but actively listening to and honoring what it has to tell you.
If you have an unhealthy pattern of negative self-talk and self-sabotage that keeps hindering the manifestation of your desires, find the source of the voice.
Then, understand why it thinks it has to protect you by sabotaging you. In many ways, self-sabotage is a misguided form of protection. Self-sabotage “protects” you from playing big in a world where you were taught to play small.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love
“Old souls” have a deep terror of being seen, because with visibility often comes persecution.
That’s why self-sabotage can be an automatic reflex for someone who has been traumatized in the past, a defense against the fear of annihilation. Once you’ve addressed the terror driving your self-limiting beliefs, however, you’ll start to disturb the cycle.
You’ll learn that regardless of whether you are praised or persecuted, you are worthy of being seen and heard. These cycles go way beyond the personal; they leave an impact on the world as well. When you’re achieving your full potential, you have the ability to affect the lives of others in revolutionary ways.
If you’ve been the victim of a larger injustice, you can use your adversity as an incentive to begin to challenge the systems that creates these injustices. In many ways, the cycle repeats itself when no one bothers with healing the core wounds underlying it.
You can be the one who interrupts the status quo. You are here to learn how to break the cycle and create a new one for future generations.
2. There is no such thing as a truly “safe” relationship until there is safety from within. With each new relationship, there is a risk of vulnerability. Risk is intrinsic to intimacy but the growth is inevitable.
This newfound habit of interrupting dysfunctional cycles extends beyond just your relationship with yourself; we break and reinforce cycles when we engage in relationships with others.
Old souls can fall into a pattern of becoming ensnared in toxic relationships. They are seemingly forced to continually step outside of their comfort zone in turbulent relationships that challenge their identity and beliefs. In reality, however, in dating the same people with different faces, they actually build new “comfort zones” that feed into existing patterns.
These patterns are ingrained in ancient wounds that demand a second look. If you have a habit of chasing emotionally unavailable people, it’s necessary to look at your own emotional unavailability which may be keeping you trapped in unsatisfying relationships. While this is usually subconscious, there may be something ultimately enticing about the emotionally unavailable partner that allows you to build the illusion of “safety” where there is actually grave danger.
Consider children who are severely bullied or neglected. They do not feel safe trusting in another human being that could potentially harm them, yet they are later drawn to similarly dangerous people in adulthood because they have been programmed to seek out the familiar. The emotional unavailability and toxicity of a partner can be inviting for them as adults, if only because it represents a form of psychological distance.
Old souls learn the hard way, time and time again, that there is in fact great risk in investing in such a precarious and false sense of safety by engaging in the same types of relationships over and over again. With every leap they take to the comfort zone disguised as the unknown, they might still grow and learn new lessons. Only when they learn to choose themselves over inauthentic partnerships, however, will they truly be taking the risk that will reap the benefits of true intimacy. They will find the sacred intimacy of knowing themselves.
3. Being compassionate doesn’t mean you have to be anyone’s emotional punching bag. It often means being your own “guru” in setting healthy boundaries.
Many spiritual gurus purport that we’re here on this planet to learn how to love unconditionally. This belief, however, is disgracefully exploited by toxic people and should always be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to sacrificing your needs for emotional predators. Cultivate that sense of unconditional love for yourself, first and foremost, and you’ll learn that abuse has no place in self-reverence.
Those who preach “love and light” without including the art of self-compassion and boundary setting are missing the crucial ingredients of self-respect and authentic growth. The truth is, enabling toxicity doesn’t do you or the person you’re excusing any favors.
Loving everyone indiscriminately has its dangers; it doesn’t give your soul the navigation it needs to find the tribe that resonates with how exquisite you truly are. It doesn’t give other souls the accountability they need to learn their own lessons, either.
It always bears repeating that you are a divine being and you are here to be cherished as such. You can in fact still be a loving, respectful and compassionate human being without taking anyone else’s shit or overlooking the transgressions that are at the root of conflict and incompatibility.
Setting boundaries or calling out toxic behavior isn’t hateful – it’s sacred and it should be taught in every spiritual practice.
4. Contributing to someone’s mission is wonderful, but your true purpose may be larger than life.
Inside of every old soul is an aching longing for something greater than themselves; they know intuitively that they are meant for something more than the life they’re living. Your current 9-to-5 job, while suitable and convenient, may not be what makes your heart skip a beat or your soul jumpstart into ecstasy. Whether it’s a side hustle or the courage to live out your true passion full-time, don’t devote your entire life to building someone else’s empire when you could also be spending some time building your own.
It’s possible to be both practical and passionate. Make space and time for your own talents, goals and dreams. Give back to the communities that have fostered your own growth and the causes that are a part of your life story. Your hardships can be the guide to the populations you’re here to help and serve. Honor what authentically excites you and become a leader in the field that makes you motivated to get up every morning; don’t sacrifice or eradicate your true gifts just so you can cultivate someone else’s mission.
You have your own mission to carry out and the possibilities are infinite; there are multiple ways to explore the gifts that you’ve been given. Even if you have no clue what that might be, start small by thinking about what makes your soul feel most alive. Chances are, your soul already knows deep down what that is.
5. The ability to enjoy being alone is a goddamn superpower.
Society might try to convince you to partner up as quickly as possible, to surround yourself with a plethora of friends and to self-medicate by constantly socializing. Yet how are you meant to grow as an individual, if you spend most of your time drowning out what your soul is dying to tell you with the noise of other people’s neuroses and projections?
Take a year off of relationships to self-reflect and “date” yourself; being single can be a revolutionary period that can teach you how to give to yourself more fully and become rooted in your own authenticity without requiring anyone else’s validation. You’re meant to spend some time alone – growing, reflecting, and flourishing. Learning how to enjoy being alone can be one of your greatest assets as a human being and a natural way to filter out toxic people from your life. After all, when you learn how to enjoy your own company, you’ll find that it is much more preferable to tolerating someone else’s bullshit just for the sake of avoiding solitude.
6. You don’t exist to do things half-assed.
You’re here to dive in deep and savor everything just as much as you are here to fulfill your true potential. You’re here to have careers, friends and relationship partners that nourish you on a level that you haven’t been before – not superficial alliances that deplete and drain you. You’re not here to settle for or bow down to those who give you crumbs. You’re not here to waste time catering to people that couldn’t care less if they destroyed you in the process of getting what they want.
Cherish quality over quantity; one good friend is more satisfying than several false ones. A career you love is far more enriching than one you have to force yourself to pursue just because of the title it offers. Life is simultaneously too short and far too long to be spending your time doing anything or being with anyone less than what genuinely nurtures you.
7. Your disowned parts are just as important as your public persona.
We all have an “ideal” person we would love to be 24/7. These are authentic parts of us that also happen to be socially acceptable. It’s wonderful to be friendly, generous and kind. But if there are parts you’re not owning about yourself, there are also facets of your identity that you’re not allowing to become integrated in a healthy way. Maybe let your dark sense of humor come out to play or your coy sensuality take over for a decadent evening. These inner parts deserve just as much air to breathe.
In fact, you’ll find that when you don’t give these inner parts air time, they’ll find mischievous ways of coming out nonetheless. Your hidden desires always have a way of speaking through your choices, no matter how hard you try to repress or silence them.
Your buried anger? It’ll eventually blow up in unexpected ways. Your clandestine shame? It’ll reflect itself in your choices of friends, relationship partners and how much crap you’re willing to take before you finally assert yourself. To avoid this predicament, have a little chat with your ‘shadow self’ or tumultuous inner child – what needs are being unmet? What desires are being silenced? In what ways can you gently invite these parts in, without allowing them to steal the show and sabotage you? Your inner parts are not meant to be disowned – they’re meant to be addressed and rediscovered in healthier ways.
8. Abundance and miracles are your birthright.
Your soul knows deep down that you are meant to be wealthy in every aspect – in relationships, in finances, in career success. Everyone defines abundance in different ways. Whatever “wealth” means to you, you are deserving of it.
You are so worthy of it all, even if your internal programming, childhood wounding and societal conditioning have convinced you otherwise.
Society wants to feed you a limited version of what life can be because it is deeply terrified of people who not only go after their big dreams, but require no one else to depend on for their victories. Small-minded people are also haunted by those who succeed in areas that they have yet to thrive in.
Instead of allowing these limiting core beliefs and naysayers to drive you into a scarcity mindset that doesn’t truly belong to you, you can be open to enhancing success in all areas of your life. You are a divine being and you deserve to feel “rich” in everything you do.
9. Ecstasy is your love letter to yourself.
Self-discipline is admirable and should be cultivated in all areas of your life. However, your lifeline to success shouldn’t be dependent on deprivation.
Old souls often find comfort in restricting themselves, but what they forget is that relishing the beauties of the physical world can be just as spiritual as sitting down to meditate.
Pleasure gives you access to a world where resistance and inhibition loosen, façades drop, instinct reigns and the primal is honored for what it is.
Give yourself permission to surrender to what gives you pure, unadulterated ecstasy from time to time. You’re not here to starve, emotionally, psychologically or physically. You’re here to slow down and take it all in – every touch, every scent, every extravagant source of bliss. You’re here to be mindful of every delightful moment – from savoring a breathtaking sunset to relishing the rapture of a lover.
Most of us internalize guilt as a way of life; we’re taught that any form of pleasure is shameful, spiritually unsound, ego-driven, dirty, immoral, gluttonous, best kept a secret. Yet you don’t have to compromise your personal moral compass just to enjoy the parts of life that don’t exist on your to-do list or diet.
The detours you take are just another part of your journey. Don’t feel ashamed of taking your power back and making your pleasure a priority; there are times when it can be just as important and fulfilling for your well-being as meeting that work deadline – it’s all about moderation and balance.
It is vital to allow yourself some indulgences that set your body, mind and soul on fire. Remind yourself on a daily basis, “I am worthy of pleasure. I am worthy of the ecstasy that makes life so worth living.”
10. Emotionally desensitizing yourself or spiritually bypassing the pain cuts you off from the power of self-transformation. Gratitude means celebrating the things that are working, not sugarcoating or sweeping everything under the rug.
New age philosophies emphasize the power of positive thinking – sometimes to an extent where it can be more harmful than helpful.
The practice of gratitude comes with a caveat, because being grateful isn’t about being in denial. It’s about acknowledging the basic needs that are being met every day that you might otherwise take for granted. It’s about remembering what you already have and celebrating the incredible manifestations in your life that you were praying for years ago. Bless your newfound career, the roof over your head, the clean water you’re able to drink, your loving friends, the kind compliment you received – bless them all, every day in every way – without invalidating any pain or trauma you may be encountering.
As humans, our natural instincts drive us to focus on the negative aspects of life to avoid and mitigate potential threats; gratitude helps you balance the emotional seesaw without sacrificing your authenticity. You’re here to lead a charmed life – one filled with miracles, synchronicity and abundance beyond your wildest dreams.
That doesn’t mean closing yourself off to uncomfortable emotions in the process, because in the midst of the discomfort is where true change and catharsis can happen.
It doesn’t mean not being angry or outraged when you are violated; in fact, honoring your anger is just as sacred of a practice as being grateful. It gives you access to the boundary-building that you might feel otherwise too timid to undertake.
It doesn’t mean refusing to seek help that will heal you; on the contrary, you’re receptive to it all because you know that with pain comes the potential for self-examination and transformation.
Being open to the pain of life as well as its beauty gives your soul the breathing room it needs to fully function, grow and evolve. Darkness becomes a lot easier to manage when you know that it is giving birth to light.
11. Not forcing what isn’t there can speed up the process of what’s actually meant to be.
Many of us spend our whole lives “pushing” for life’s ideal outcomes rather than accepting the holy truths of messy and nuanced situations. We try to convince an employer why we’re the perfect person for the job, bend over backwards to become well-liked in a social circle, sacrifice precious energy to meet every requirement on someone else’s dream partner list.
Yet you’ll find that your soul thrives and manifests on a deeper level when nothing is forced at all, but honored for what it is, right here and now.
Acknowledging that some things are better left broken and that some people are better off left to their own devices is the passport to your own liberation.
Finally leaving the toxic people and experiences that we are most terrified to leave actually upgrades our experience. As our soul exits damaging environments, it uplevels into higher planes of thinking, feeling and being. Peace becomes our default setting and the chaos that once uprooted our world and aided in our expansion is now a distant memory, a foreign land we visit from time to time to remember what we learned – but it is one we no longer have to take residence in.
Maybe you’re not meant to get that promotion at work because you were meant to launch your own business, become even more abundant and reach more people than you ever did before; maybe you weren’t right for that relationship because it would’ve altered the course of your destiny; perhaps that practical degree you were trying so hard to make fit into your resume actually isn’t the field you’re meant to study.
Because deep down, your soul knows: sometimes the very things we think will save us are the things we need to be saved from – to pursue something even greater than we ever imagined.