What’s inside this article: A look a spiritual bypassing – what it is, signs and behaviors that indicate you’re using this avoidance strategy, how it affects mental health, and how to avoid using spiritual bypassing.
What Is Spiritual Bypassing?
Spiritual bypassing is when a person uses spiritual explanations to avoid what are actually complex psychological issues.
Embracing your spirituality is a powerful thing, but you shouldn’t use it to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues or psychological wounds.
In fact, going to therapy is a great way to begin doing shadow work, which is the process of working through complex emotions, and confronting trauma and unresolved issues.
Signs of Spiritual Bypassing
Some examples of spiritual bypassing include:
- Suppressing anger
- Believing your traumas must serve as a learning experience or have a silver lining (Sometimes s&%$* things happen to undeserving people)
- Only focusing on the positive
- Pretending things are fine when they’re not
- Believing all spiritual practices such as meditation must be positive
- Feeling detached from the present
- Thinking you can overcome any problem with positive thinking
- Projecting negative feelings onto others
While positive thinking, and meditation, and other spiritual practices can all serve as healthy coping mechanisms, using them to pretend your problems don’t exist won’t solve anything. We eventually need to face our problems and find solutions or heal from the past.
Recognizing Spiritual Bypassing
If you say these things, you might be engaging in spiritual bypassing:
- “Everything happens for a reason.”
- “You create your own happiness.”
- “It was for the best.”
- “It was a blessing in disguise.”
- “Good vibes only!”
- “Thoughts and prayers!”
When you say these things, you aren’t really giving someone insight or comfort; you’re dismissing a difficult or upsetting situation.
Why Do We Resort to Spiritual Bypassing?
Defaulting to this behavior is so common in our society. It’s used as a coping mechanism, a way to escape painful situations.
But, ignoring and avoiding issues makes things worse in the long term. We need to grieve the loss of a loved one – not continually tell ourselves it was part of god’s plan.
The longer we push off issues with spiritual bypassing, the more difficult it is to face later.
Wellness culture often promotes toxic positivity, leading to spiritual bypassing.
We need to accept that negative emotions are normal, valid, and sometimes a sign that something needs to change and we need to take action.
Effects of Spiritual Bypassing
Spiritual bypassing isn’t always a bad thing. In times of severe distress, it can be a way to relieve frustration or anxiety temporarily. Temporarily being the keyword.
However, when used long-term, it negatively affects mental health, leading to:
- Control problems
- Disregard for personal responsibility
- Emotional confusion
- Excessive tolerance of unacceptable or inappropriate behavior
- Feelings of shame
- Spiritual narcissism
Spiritual narcissism involves using spiritual practices as a way to increase self-importance.
How to Stop Using Spiritual Bypassing
Some things to help you stop using spiritual bypassing:
- Don’t label emotions as good or bad. While some feelings are uncomfortable or even painful, they have a purpose. Remember, all emotions are valid and normal. Accept your feelings, and remind yourself uncomfortable feelings are temporary.
- Remember, uncomfortable emotions have a purpose. The goal isn’t to avoid all uncomfortable thoughts or emotions; it’s to experience them and use them to take positive action in your life. Hate your job? Telling yourself, you’re here for a reason isn’t going to help. It would be best if you took positive action – pursue your passions.,
- Uncomfortable emotions are a sign things need to change. If something or someone in your life is a constant cause of discomfort, you can’t change it by avoiding those feelings or using positive thinking. The situation or relationship causing the discomfort will stay the same. These uncomfortable emotions are telling you that you must make a change in your life.
Remember, spirituality itself is a powerful way to cope with stress, practice self-improvement, and find meaning in your life. It only becomes a problem when you use it as a way to avoid or escape issues.
Research shows people who engage in spiritual practices are less likely to experience depression and have better overall physical wellbeing.
Growth is a process, and there will be bumps along the way. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Use spirituality as a positive force in your life.
By actively avoiding spiritual bypassing, you can make spirituality a practice that will help you live a more harmonious and fulfilling life.