Using Spirituality to avoid facing Unresolved Issues
Spiritual bypass is a term used to describe the use of spiritual practices or beliefs to avoid dealing with emotional pain or trauma.
While spirituality can be a powerful tool for personal growth and healing, it can also be used as a way to avoid facing difficult emotions and experiences. This can lead to deeper issues and a lack of true personal growth even if there is a clear feeling of being “spiritual” and good.
The concept of spiritual bypass was first introduced by John Welwood, a psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher. He observed that many people use spiritual practices, such as meditation and self-help, as a way to avoid dealing with their emotional pain. Many believe that by focusing on their spiritual growth, they can bypass or avoid their emotional issues and become enlightened without having to deal with the “lower parts” of themself.
This approach however can actually prevent true spiritual growth and healing. Emotions are an important part of the human experience, and unconsciously avoiding them can lead to repressed feelings, unresolved trauma, and a lack of self-awareness.
Sense of Spiritual Accomplishment
One of the dangers of the spiritual bypass is that it can lead to a false sense of spiritual accomplishment.
When someone uses spirituality to avoid their emotional pain, they may believe that they have achieved a high level of spiritual understanding. In reality however, they have not truly faced and processed their emotions, and thus have not achieved true spiritual growth because of a false belief that spirituality is about having peak experiences and a superficial perception of being in love and light at all times.
I have observed these behaviors paradoxically more often in the so called “spiritual communities”, loaded with tons of new age spiritual practices that have no connection with authentic and authoritative spiritual teachings.
Here the “spiritual ego” is inflated by the fact that it is enough to be vegan, eco-friendly, shamanic etc., while a true spiritual path involves commitment to the practice, deep self-awareness and the humbleness of not taking for granted that evolution happens by facing your human limitations as opposed to avoiding them.
Real Empathy and Compassion
Another danger is that spiritual bypass can lead to a lack of real empathy and compassion for others.
When someone is using spirituality to avoid their own emotional pain, they may not be able to truly understand and connect with the struggles of others. Often this is veiled with the false state of “we are all one”, while a true non-dual experience is about deep empathy and a genuine detachment from the illusion of being something.
This can lead to a lack of genuine compassion and an unconscious disconnection from others often masked by belonging to a specific “spiritual tribe” that could be nothing more than a cult.
Face and Process your Emotions
To avoid spiritual bypassing, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your emotional state and to be willing to face and process your emotions.
It’s also important to work with an experienced therapist or spiritual teacher who can help guide you in a healthy and holistic approach to personal growth and healing.
Be aware of the hundreds of inexperienced healers that appear every day that can drive you in the wrong direction and create even more confusion.
Advice on how to avoid Spiritual Bypass
In conclusion, spiritual bypassing can be a dangerous trap for those seeking genuine spiritual growth and healing, especially in the modern spiritual supermarket.
By avoiding emotional pain and trauma, individuals may not be able to achieve true spiritual accomplishment & depth and may even cause more harm than good.
Accordingly, I’ll remind you then of some important points:
- Cultivate your daily awareness, observing with detachment your behaviors and beliefs.
- Embrace your emotions becoming aware of projections of your personality.
- If you think you aren’t able to process some deep pain or trauma alone, ask for the help of an experienced therapist who can help guide you on the path; but remember ultimately only you can face those wounds and integrate them into your experience.
- Continue with your authentic spiritual practices such as meditation, traditional yoga/tantra, etc. but remember is often necessary that work on the personality happen in parallel with your spiritual sadhana. Many people can spend their entire life working with superficial healing practices and run the risk of ending their life with so many things still to be “fixed” and miss true spiritual realization.
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Real transcendence happens only when the entire spectrum of your personality is harmoniously integrated and transformed into the revelation of your ultimate divine nature.