The basic idea of spiritual bypassing revolves around not facing problems, and instead, searching for enlightenment first. I think we have it backward.

During the decades of trauma I endured, I experienced many things, not just the trauma. I realized, at some point, that I was living in denial, I pushed the negative events behind me, and even plastered religion on top of them in layers of bandages. I know now that I was bypassing the real healing process, and trying to use spiritual practices alone.

What is spiritual bypassing?

It means to use spiritual ideas or practices to avoid facing psychological wounds, deep emotional problems, and tasks that are unfinished in your development as a person. In plain English, it’s covering problems with spiritual bandaids and hoping they will heal that way.

There are many flaws in this operation. In fact, it’s just a negative move that appears to be holy. When bad things happen, all you want to do is to forget about it. The truth is, you shouldn’t immediately push it away.

No, you shouldn’t dwell on it forever either, but you should look it square in the face and figure out how to process the negative and hurtful experience. Before you can go on any retreat, or prayer weekend, you must first face the truth of your earthly problems.

Are you using spiritual bypassing?

There should never be any spiritual bypassing, else spiritual healing will never work properly. Would you like to know if you are doing this? Well, here are a few signs to help you see the light, the practical light.

1. Being too optimistic

I purposely avoid talking ‘church’ in my posts because I want to be all-inclusive. But here’s the thing, have you noticed religious or spiritual people telling you to ‘stay positive’, like all the time? While they may mean well, and they think it’s working for them, which it’s not, this is something you should avoid.

It’s not wrong to have negative feelings sometimes, and sometimes those negative feelings are only realistic realizations, duh. So, yes, you are bypassing the facts in your life, if you are always and forever positive no matter how bad it gets. It’s time to stop smiling until your face cracks and deal with the real issues practically.

2. Trying to conquer every emotion

It is good to control your emotions. You should never let your emotions rule your life. On the other hand, it is also bad to try and conquer every single emotion that rises within you.

When someone makes you angry, it’s not wise to hold that back. It’s best to approach them in a calm manner and let them know how they made you feel.

If they don’t care, that’s on them, but you are free from that emotion now, and that’s when you control the feeling. In many spiritual mindsets, bypassing emotions is believed to be a strength. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In fact, I’ve been told to control my emotions on many occasions. Sometimes it resulted in success, and sometimes it created more problems.

3. Ignoring the brewing volcano

I use this analogy to explain the denial process. One of the most prevalent examples of spiritual bypassing is pretending that your life is fine when it’s not. The worst part about that is one day, the volcano will erupt and hurt more people than you could imagine.

Your denial of what life is really like can cover all the damages, bitterness, and broken relationships for a while, but eventually, it will all fall apart, and yes, maybe even blow up in your face, scarring you and hindering your spiritual growth. So, in short, denial is not a river in Egypt, it’s a poisonous concoction that prevents true spiritual healing.

4. Always staying in the spiritual realm

It’s nice there, I know. But you cannot stay there forever, at least not until you’ve transcended into the next plane. So, while on earth, staying in the spiritual realm and not facing reality can actually be a time-waster. You heard me right.

I do believe in enlightenment, I do believe in meditation and all those things. They are good for you. The problem is, meditating and then returning to a dysfunctional way of life, erases much of the tranquility you achieved during those spiritual exercises.

So no, you cannot live there, you have to come out and face your demons first. But remember to use logic and a sound mind when doing so.

5. Being spiritually arrogant

If you are arrogant in your spiritual life, if you have one, then you are probably bypassing many important concrete things in life. Some of you have already crowned yourself guru or shaman, and maybe you’re not ready for that.

Remember, every one of us on this planet can reach enlightenment, whether we attain it or use it, that’s beside the point. If you are arrogant, you cannot be compassionate to others who have problems that affect you. You will always look down on them. Stop this.

6. Projecting your crap on others

We are human, and we all have crappy aspects of our personalities, thus the need for healing and enlightenment that I speak of. Let me teach you something you may already know. Much of the negative we see in others runs rampant through us as well, maybe even more so, but we either cannot see it or we don’t want to see it.

Then there are those of us who see it and project it onto others to feel better about ourselves. Maybe you have issues with lying and cannot seem to stop this, but instead of trying, you say others are lying to you.

Because you would never lie – you’re too spiritual to do this. You try to hide the fact that you are deeply flawed, just like the rest of us.

7. Detachment from the real world

This is similar to denial and repression but simply a state of being. At some point, when we feel that failure follows us, we detach ourselves from our own lives. We use spiritual bypassing to distract us from what we need to address in our lives.

Although we may be walking around and living a spiritual life, we are like zombies. If we come out of detachment, we understand that our problems will have to be faced, and we just don’t want that responsibility. Over time, using detachment can lead to an entire way of life or mindset.

Spirituality doesn’t cover problems

Spiritual bypassing is not a blanket to cover up the ugliness of the world. This is a misuse of what some people consider a serious way of life. You cannot continue to hide your problems behind this idea or belief, and no amount of transcendental workshops or church services will stop what you must face on your own.

So, before you join a spiritual retreat, consider approaching your issues from a logical standpoint, talk about them, work through them, and even make tough decisions.

This is what moves mountains. Honestly, no higher power ever told us not to do somethings on our own. Hey, if you have a headache, take a pain reliever.

If you aren’t spiritual at all, this should be easy for you. I hope it helped.



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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Don

    I agree completely about looking for enlightenment first is the wrong direction. Enlightenment is the endgame, not the beginning. There has to be a journey to look for the root of a problem as the starting point. I would bet in most cases that betrayal is involved. An unresolved betrayed person will not find enlightenment – they will fall into one or more of your bypasses. Done it myself.

    Like this article.

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      Wrestling with this now, Don. When you’ve experienced so many betrayals you can no longer count them, you have a tough time reconciling with yourself. It took me 35 or so years to like myself. Now that I like myself, I have no tolerance if it doesn’t match what I want or believe. This is a problem and I know…ugh. I also live in the past quite a bit, wondering if I had saved someone or moved to a different place, how would it be, you know? These phases remind me of the phases of grieving. It’s like you’re grieving the losses of life but in random order. One minute you don’t care, the next you’re ready to check out. One minute your partying like an animal, the next your on your knees. I’ve been through all those things in repetitive cycles. I will say, I’ve learned to control my temper a bit better. but yeah, enlightenment…*holds a hand up shielding the sun from my eyes, and stares into the distance* …I want to be there. *stares at the opening of the labyrinth, wiggles whiskers and squeaks, smelling the cheese so far away*….but no one ever promised us it would be easy, nor would life be fair.

  2. flash

    You are spot on regarding spiritual bypassing. Indeed we over-spiritualize things!!

  3. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    Spirituality is not a bad thing. Humans make spirituality a bad thing sometimes. We must always strive to do better and be better.

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