There are times when the human mind is extremely stressed. Our day to day routine barely gives us any time to rebound or relax. This leads to piling up of emotions and negativity. Spiritual bypassing is a solution to this problem.
In this article, the focus is on explaining the various aspects of this process and how it can help an individual experience a state of perpetual bliss. Of course the idea sounds extremely romantic but is it possible.
But it can lead to grave mental health issues. Sadly, not many of us realize it until it has impacted the mind in a big way.
Today, one has many options to divert the mind from stress. These options include yoga, meditation, listening to music, etc. However, we need to ask ourselves- What are we using these practices for? Are we using it to solve the problem rather than develop the courage to work towards a solution? Or is it used to just run away from the problems.
In most cases, people are using it simply as an escape mechanism. This is one of the major reasons why users of spiritual bypass mechanisms end up staying in a state of permanent happiness. Let us understand this in more detail.
What is Spiritual Bypassing?
Spiritual bypassing is actually the body’s defense mechanism. As the name suggests, it is about using spiritual ideas to run away from unresolved issues.
Spiritual bypassing is a way to avoid facing your unresolved issues. It relies on the use of various techniques that create a barrier between reality and your interpretation of it. Spiritual bypassing when spirituality disconnects the individual from the present scenario.
Those engaged in spiritual bypassing end up ignoring reality and choose to live in a world of fantasies. The porous boundaries between an enriching spiritual journey and spiritual bypassing often make it difficult for people to realize when they cross over from the light side to the shadow side. Therefore, spiritual bypassing is more like a serious disorder.
It prohibits you from seeing the real picture. You tend to believe that not talking about problems or looking for ways to resolve them, will actually make them disappear. However, this is not true. Remember that avoiding emotional issues, psychological blocks and unfinished developmental tasks is a sign of mental disorder.
How Spiritual Bypassing Creeps In?
The roots of this method lie in the concept of avoiding and stepping away from the problems. In simple terms, you start avoiding dealing with problems. Your assumption is that as long as the mind is able to stay away from the problem, there is no need to worry about it.
However, this is not the right approach. The spiritual techniques are supposed to empower the mind to face the problem and rise above the challenges. But spiritual bypassing only teaches one to run away from the problem which is never a permanent solution.
When you start using spiritual methods to bypass problems, it will only lead to more problems. Such individuals end up relying on spiritual practices to compensate for their weakness which is incorrect.
For example, if someone is suffering from emotional problems or even social isolation issues, spiritual methods are not the solution. Of course, they offer some solace but that does not mean they can solve the mental health issues that you are struggling with.
Ideally, for such situations the individual should seek psychological help. He or she can continue to use spiritual methods like yoga or meditation, among others.
There is no harm in using these methods when the purpose is to connect with your inner self and identify your strengths. Not using the methods correctly leads to lopsided development.
Every individual is blessed with a certain emotional and moral intelligence. True spirituality lies in identifying these traits and building them. Spiritual bypassing is not the right way to approach such situations.
Spirituality vs Spiritual Bypassing
Here is a look at some key differentiators that help identify a victim of spiritual bypassing.
1. Spiritual bypassing prohibits the individual to express their emotions while spirituality emphasizes such expressions. Those who have experienced emotional trauma or have piled up stress, are likely to fall prey to spiritual bypassing.
When an individual chooses to bypass the path of true spirituality, they end up suppressing the emotions. This affects their mental health.
2. Individuals practicing spiritual bypassing experience exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing, and repression, overemphasis on positive anger.
They don’t feel pain because they choose never to acknowledge it. Those practicing spirituality acknowledge the pain and learn to control the outburst of emotions instead of hiding it.
3. Spiritual bypassers avoid negative emotions unlike those who practice spirituality.
4. Those on the path of spiritual bypassing are overly positive. However, people who believe in the power of spirituality learn to take life with a pinch of salt.
5. Those indulged in spiritual bypassing are obsessed with their practices, contrary to those who practice spirituality. It is more like an addiction to them. These victims often disconnect themselves from the world and tend to escape into their secret spiritual place every time a problem arises.
6. The victims of spiritual bypassing experience nervousness, anxiety attacks and find it very difficult to cope with stress, as the situation worsens. However, calmness is one of the biggest virtues of those practicing spirituality.
7. Victims of spiritual bypassing suffer from low self-esteem, punish themselves with self-isolation, and are often low on confidence as well. Those who practice spirituality connect with their inner self and exhibit confidence.
8. Such people will avoid arguments and almost always shy away from expressing their opinions. Their lopsided spiritual ideals will make them avoid face-offs. But, people who are practicing true spirituality will express their opinion without being rude.
9. Being overly tolerant, compassionate, weak is also a warning sign of those who are proceeding to bypass the path of true spiritual seekers.
10. Spiritual bypassers are over-optimistic. So much so they pretend that the problem does not exist just to save themselves the trouble of looking for a solution. Those on the path of spirituality are realistic.
10 Types of Spiritual Bypassing
The term spiritual bypass was coined by John Welwood, a leading psychologist way back in 1984. Renowned author Robert Augustus Masters has also explained the phenomena in detail in his book. For those of you who are fond of reading, this is an excellent reference.
There are various types of spiritual bypassing that an individual can experience.
However, all of them weaken the moral intelligence debilitating judgement and affecting the individual’s mental health. Here is a look at some of the common types:
1. The eternal optimist
Have you come across people who just love to live in their palace of illusions? Such people are so optimistic that they just turn away from the harsh realities of life. The underlying psychological problem in such cases is the inability to face the negative emotions.
2. The mask wearers
Another popular category of bypassing, victims in this category use spirituality to hide their deficiencies. It is a cover-up for their weakness.
Unfortunately, they mask it so well that they refuse to acknowledge the existence of any weakness.
3. Always a victim
The spiritual bypass technique makes an individual believe that they are the victim. They love to play the victim card, almost always.
Interestingly, such people believe that they have some unique capabilities and that these capabilities are a reason for their problems.
4. The horoscope believer
Of course, each one of us is born with a certain destiny to fulfill. This destiny is also defined by our karma. However, those who blindly believe in predictions and let it govern their lives can never find happiness. Because such people refuse to believe in the power of their karma.
Spiritual bypassers will easily fall prey to quacks who claim to know the future.
5. The saint
As kids we are taught that spirituality is all about good things. Our minds are conditioned to believe that those who are on the road to spirituality can’t have any negative emotions.
However, this is unfair. It is normal for humans to have a dark side as well. As long as you acknowledge it, it will not bother you.
6. The Guru believer
This type of spiritual bypass makes the individual believe in everything that a spiritual guru says. They blindly follow another person’s word to such an extent that they end up sacrificing their ability to think. They will do whatever the Guru says.
7. Just blame it on others
Another interesting type of spiritual bypassing is when the sufferer blames everything in his or her life on others. They are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. Therefore, it is easier for them to just find faults in everyone around them.
8. Pray, pray and repeat
Prayer gives us immense courage but relying on it and not working on improving your actions is a bad option. Yes! You should pray to strengthen your resolve to find a solution and not run away from the fight.
9. The druggie bypass
A lot of people tend to rely on drugs to seek a spiritual escape. They are so keen to escape the reality that they don’t hesitate to damage their health in the process.
The occasional escape develops into an addiction and before one realizes it, the damage is done.
10. The delusion artist
The victim in this category creates a world of self delusion around them. They believe that the world is absolutely normal, no matter what goes on around them.
How To Stop Spiritual Bypassing?
Spiritual bypassing is dangerous, it adversely affects mental health and wellbeing. Since the line of difference is very thin, it is often difficult to steer the mind to the right path. You need to constantly remind yourself to stay on the right side.
While there is no definitive technique to stop yourself from falling prey to spiritual bypassing, there are few pointers that can help.
1. Acknowledge your weakness
Always remember that it is normal for any human to have weaknesses just as they have strengths. You are not capable of doing everything and that is okay.
Accept your weakness. Once you accept it, you will find it easier to identify ways and means of improving it.
2. Be willing to take feedback
If something confuses you, talk to the people that matter. Ask for their opinion or feedback. Do not let it take over your consciousness or cognitive ability.
The willingness to take feedback shows your keenness to adapt. This will help you cope with your stress.
3. Have an honest chat with yourself
There are a lot of things that bother your conscience. Often in our busy routines, we do not find the time to address these concerns. Gradually these pile on and the situation worsens.
Why should you let this happen? Make it a point to spare some time for yourself on a daily basis. During this time, evaluate your actions. Check how you can rectify them or what you can learn from them.
4. Face your emotions
Emotions are extremely strong and have a tendency to impact our behavior as well as wellbeing. Do not run away from them. Instead, muster some courage and confront your emotions. Figure out what is bothering you. The best way to do so is to talk about them. Talk to close friends or family because social isolation will not help.
5. Feel your pain
Are you worried that people will judge you if you show your pain? They may or they may not. Either way, it should not bother you. Treat pain like any other emotion and express it. This is one of the easiest ways to tackle it.
Here is a nice video that explains the harmful effects of spiritual bypassing :
Embark On The True Spiritual Journey
Spiritual journeys are not easy. To achieve a stage of enlightenment where you can see beyond the little things takes a lot of practice. Be it yoga, meditation, or any other path that you choose to take this journey, you need a disciplined approach.
The results will take time but that is no reason to give up practice. Believe in your practice and pursue it with determination. And before you know it, you will experience the bliss of being on an illuminating spiritual journey. You can also choose to follow a guru but don’t leave your ability to question and understand the process, prior to following it.
Spiritual Bypassing Quotes
1. “When transcendence of our personal history takes precedence over intimacy with our personal history, spiritual bypassing is inevitable. To not be intimate with our past—to not be deeply and thoroughly acquainted with our conditioning and its originating factors—keeps it undigested and unintegrated and therefore very much present,”― Robert Augustus Masters
2. “Spiritual bypassing is the act of using spiritual beliefs to avoid facing or healing one’s painful feelings, unresolved wounds and unmet needs. It is a state of avoidance. Because it is a state of avoidance, it is a state of resistance. I personally, consider Spiritual bypassing to be the shadow side of spirituality.”– Teal Swan
3. “clearly healing and potently integrative. What spiritual bypassing would have us rise above is precisely what we need to enter, and enter deeply, with as little self-numbing as possible. To this end, it is crucial that we see through whatever practices we have, spiritual or otherwise, that tranquilize rather than illuminate and awaken us. Despite”― Robert Augustus Masters
As for spiritual bypassing, if you notice any symptoms, you need to take corrective measures immediately. If required consult a psychologist. Ask for help. Do not let the problem overshadow your personality.
A freelancer by profession, Kavita writes on a variety of topics, mental health being one of her favorites. Fond of traveling, socializing and meeting new people, most of her inspiration for writing comes from real-life scenarios as well as experiences. Her motto in life has always been to look for a reason to smile.