For a couple years during my decade at Outward Bound, I worked for the youth program with kids that were about 14-16 year old. I remember once there was a boy, maybe 14 years old, and I asked him what kind of life he would like to live. Did he want to travel the world? Live in a city or somewhere rural?
And he said, “You know what’s weird? I don’t know why, but I see myself as this old guy, just wanting to sit at a cafe at watch the world. And I’m wearing a beret, listening to people play music outside, and I’m smoking a pipe and just thinking and reading. It’s like I feel old already. It’s weird. My friends…they want to play sports and have fancy cars and stuff. But this is what I want to do, it’s how I see myself. And they make fun of me when I say that. I feel like I don’t fit in.”
And I’m like who IS this kid? It was so beautiful to hear this, and I told him not to worry – that he’d find people with a broader range of interests and views, especially once he got to college.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken that opportunity to talk about Old Souls with him.
You may have heard that phrase before – “Old Soul.” This isn’t literally a soul that’s been around for thousands of years. After all, souls are ageless and transcend the concept of time and beginnings and endings.
Rather, it’s more about a feeling we have that we can see through the illusions of existence, and we experience a deep sense of longing to “return home” back to Source.
So while some people relentlessly pursue material or worldly goals like money, material objects, prestigious titles, lovers, and professional success, Old Souls can’t help but consistenly seek truth, wisdom, love, and freedom beyond the material plane.
Now, I want to be clear here that an Old Soul is not “better” than a younger soul. Old Souls just have an easier time connecting with the essence of who they truly are beyond their socially conditioned identity and seeing past illusions – in people and in expereinces.
Trust me, they’ve got their shit to work with too, like the shadow sides of elitism and self-destructive nihilism.
In general, there are some qualities that most Old Souls can identify with. They tend to be contemplative and philosophical. They’re able to see the bigger picture more easily, and they are drawn to knowledge, wisdom, and truth. They also tend toward spirituality (though not necessarily religion). And they are usually more emotionally and psychologically mature than peers.
Old Souls also tend to experience, at some point, existential anxiety, depression or apathy – especially when feeling trapped in the mundane aspects of everyday life. This is why it’s important for them to have a sense of meaning or a passion or hobby they’re really into. Without it, they are prone to falling into an existential crisis.
When an Old Soul can find that deep sense of meaning and purpose, they can feel less burdened by everyday life and see the deeper meaning of things. They know and accept that everything has a reason, and can start to embrace the parts of life that are challenging or that have suffering – as in the Four Noble Truths – and be able to move towards equanimity.
Some Old Souls also have highly tuned intuition and often experience déjà vu or intense empathy for others’ feelings.
As you can tell by now, what comes with all this is often an experience of loneliness. Since it can be a challenge to find like-minded people, how can we address this?
Another quality of an Old Soul I want to touch on is their connection with spirituality. While they don’t tend to lean towards fundamentalism, many may piece together their own practice that supports their understanding of existence, so they can take aspects from many different traditions – Buddhism, pagan practices, Sufism, etc. A daily practice can help foster a sense of connection to the Divine and to all other beings.
Carl Jung wrote, “Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.” It can also be powerful for an Old Soul to explore areas of self-expression through art, adventures, and other creative outlets to help address this loneliness.
The awareness that we are an Old Soul often arises after a spiritual awakening – those pivotal moments in life that wake us out of slumber, out of that feeling that we have been dreaming the whole time. We begin to see that the ways we thought, felt, perceived, and behaved before were out of a misunderstanding of how things really were, and we begin to see – and seek – Truth.
This path isn’t linear. As you’ve heard me say before, it’s a spiral, and we may revisit teachings over and over, but from a different perspective. However, because the path of an Old Soul can sometimes be lonely, it’s important for us to intentionally seek out like-minded friends – a sangha – and to explore different delivery systems and forms of self-expression, in whatever way feels more authentic to us.
Ultimately, there is no point at which we “arrive” and feel compelte. But there is a point at which we move beyond the limitations of the ego (the false sense of self) into closer connection with our Buddha nature, our ultimate consciousness. This is available to all beings – including YOU.
You will learn:
// What an Old Soul is
// Some key qualities many Old Souls have
// Shadow sides of an Old Soul
// Why it’s important that an Old Soul finds a sense of purpose
// Why Old Souls tend to be “lone wolves” and how they show up in relationships
// The role of creativity as an Old Soul
// Episode 107: Growth and Equanimity in Everyday Life
// Loner Wolf website with Alethia Luna and Mateo Sol – a great resource for soul exploration with great tool and blogposts
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics.
// Want something more self-paced with access to weekly group support and getting coached by yours truly? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out. Learn more at JoinFreedomSchool.com. I can’t wait to see you there!
// Want to join me for the next cohort of the Adventure Mastermind? Visit AdventureMastermind.com to get on the waitlist to be the first to hear about the next dates and locations. If you’ve already done the mastermind, stay tuned for a special alumni retreat. We’ll pick up right where we left off and dive even deeper!