Often times, we use spiritual discipline to avoid actually getting in touch with our feelings. We overemphasize the positive and avoid the negative, and do not find our balance with shadow work. We believe everything that happens to us is meant to serve a bigger purpose, and some of us are overly compassionate.
What is spiritual bypassing?
“Spiritual bypassing separates us from our humanity and all its messiness and struggles and pain and It makes us feel good briefly.”
~ Karl Forehand
Often described as spiritual narcissism, spiritual bypassing is the practice of trying to find a way to feel better by ignoring our negative feelings. It is a way to cover up problems, avoid confrontation, and avoid the real world. While this is a coping mechanism, it is also dangerous.
The term “spiritual bypass” was first coined by John Welwood in 1984. It was inspired by his experience with a woman who read a lot of spiritual books, did Transcendental Meditation and was raised by a narcissistic mother. Spiritual bypassing can also be blind obedience to a spiritual guru. Even though those who spiritually bypass have a strong spiritual practice, they do not embody the lessons that come along with it.
They instead believe that they are superior to others and that they can avoid negative feelings by relying on the spiritual world. Spiritual bypassing can be seen in the form of exaggerated detachment, blind compassion, delusions of a higher level of being, and overly positive beliefs.
People who spiritually bypass may also have strong religious beliefs, and may attend fellowships, spiritual workshops, and meditation. But they haven’t yet found balance by confronting their inner demons.
Here are some signs that you are spiritually bypassing
You overemphasize the positive and avoid the negative
Using spirituality as a bypass is an attempt to ignore the reality of your life. In the world of spiritual bypassing, people become overly optimistic and avoid facing the harsh realities of life. People with emotional trauma are the ones who are highly likely to fall into this trap.
Spiritual bypassing uses spiritual practices to avoid dealing with emotional issues. Some examples of spiritual bypassing include being overly tolerant and compassionate even when it hurts you. Debilitating judgment about negativity, and putting up weak boundaries. It is also important to understand that spiritual bypassing is a defense mechanism.
If you are spiritual bypassing, you probably suffer from low self-esteem, emotional dissociation, and anxiety attacks. You will also have a hard time coping with stress, and you will feel like you are the victim of your own problems. It can also lead to co-dependency, which is when you have unhealthy relationships with other people.
The best way to avoid overemphasizing is to find your balance, realise that one needs to acknowledge the negative as well as positive to grow spiritually.
You Have feelings of entitlement
Having feelings of entitlement is something that can be dangerous on the spiritual journey. For example, if you’re a “vegan” and you think that you’re better off than another person who doesn’t have the same diet as you because you’re uber conscious, it’s spiritual bypassing.
Just because you do yoga and you have a fab body, or your chakras are aligned doesn’t make you a better person, but when you are kind is when you’re truly aligned. It’s ok to feel entitled if you also have equal amount of humility.
However, feeling entitled can also be a sign that you have an overly idealistic ego. In addition, spiritual bypassing can lead to control issues, and even spiritual narcissism. Many people have difficulty finding their true selves as they’re attached to a dysfunctional identity based on the avoidance of unresolved psychological issues.
People turn to spirituality when they are feeling depressed or distressed. This is because it is supposed to be a vehicle for growth and change. It is also a way to provide a sense of hope and meaning. In addition, spirituality can also be a very beneficial coping mechanism.
Spiritual bypassing here tends to make people shift the blame onto others.
You believe that everything happens for a reason
Whether or not you believe in God, the universe or energy, everyone tends to find benefit from the belief that ones misfortune is part of a grand plan. It can help keep you motivated to accomplish your goals, and maybe that’s ok. But if this is an excuse you use to let things unfold without you actively doing anything about it, then it becomes another form of spiritual bypassing.
Using any of these terms divine/God/universe to ignore or escape the difficult experiences or feelings life puts you through is a sure sign you’re a spiritual bypasser.
You don’t do your shadow work
Identifying and accepting your shadow is important for self-growth and self-awareness. Shadow work is a psychological process that uses the unconscious mind to understand what is holding you back and how you are affected by your thoughts and feelings.
Shadow work is a catalyst for change as it helps you gain self-awareness and become more compassionate. It can also increase your sense of self-respect and improve your relationships. Although shadow work can be very challenging and it requires compassion for yourself and patience.
You will have to be willing to look at your innermost emotions. It is also important to understand that the process may not happen overnight. You can do some shadow work exercises on your own or with a therapist.
When you first start to identify your shadow, you will have to be willing to lean into your negative emotions. You may be uncomfortable with these feelings, but they will help you uncover and understand why you react in certain ways and help you stop spiritually bypassing.
You are overly compassionate.
Taking a spiritual approach is a way of making the bumpy ride less bumpy. A person who is good at spiritual bypassing may be calm, compassionate, and gentle. He or she may also have chronic illnesses and instead of self-care shows more concern about you. Usually, people who are good at spiritual bypassing are peacemakers and help others.
Spiritual bypassing can be caused by a good principle or practice that is applied at the wrong time or in the wrong context. It can also be caused by suppression, which creates an imbalance within, and often people who are good at spiritual bypassing do not recognize that their behaviour may hurt others.
How to stop spiritually bypassing?
It’s easier to justify living inauthentically than it is to admit something is wrong and begin working on the self. If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with your situation it’s a good idea to talk with someone you trust about your feelings.
As a member you can open up and seek support during our healing circles or even speak with a trusted friend. It’s important to accept your weaknesses, and that’s the first step to begin healing.
“In short: all the woo is keeping us from dealing with our poo. Instead of medicating with Marlboros and martinis, we might be doing it with metaphysics and macrobiotics. And unlike boozing it up to drown our pain, the side effects of neurotic psychoanalyzing or forced flexibility are difficult to spot. We don’t end up in rehab from too much meditation or therapy — we just end up in more workshops. Think of that friend you have who has a not-so-loving relationship with her body, but because she eats “health foods” and talks a good “body positive” talk about just wanting to be strong, we cheer her on. But really, she’s got self-destructive motivations and a mild eating disorder disguised as a holistic wellness routine. On the surface, positivity and wellness goalkeeping present so nicely that it can be hard to see when healthy actions are hooked to unhealthy ambitions. Like too much of anything, spiritual bypassing can numb us out from our Truth — which is where the healing answers wait to be found.”
~ Danielle LaPorte