Spiritual Bypassing:

My Journey of Embracing the Shadows, Beyond Love and Light

I started my spiritual journey 35ish years ago, a bit of a late starter, in my mid-20s.  Like a lot of people, I wanted to be more in tune, more psychic, deepen my spiritual connection, and learn more about New Age topics.

I started buying oracle cards, books and crystals, playing with a pendulum and delving into all things spiritual.  The funny thing is that every time I took a step towards what I thought I wanted, the Universe either blocked me, or presented me with unexpected challenges.

Instead of spiritual enlightenment I kept getting guided towards opportunities to heal emotionally. But I was having none of it!

After all I was fine, I didn’t need any of that healing stuff, there was nothing wrong with me!  I stubbornly resisted, convinced I had nothing to heal. Oh boy, insert face palm here.

The more I avoided it, the more I needed it, as life got trickier and more stressful.
The Turning Point

The turning point for me was being told about a gifted, spiritual lady with psychic abilities who did card readings. I went to see her, and she recommended a weekend workshop. It was a goddess type workshop for women and sounded pretty good. So, I enrolled and off I went expecting all sorts of spiritual learning.  It turned out that the weekend was more about healing than spiritual growth and I had a lot of stuff come up that I didn’t even realise was there. To be honest, I unconsciously fought it coming up and ended the weekend in a pretty bad way.  I then needed to access further support and during a healing session a few days later, I was guided to an event involving the death of a loved one when I was a baby that clearly had an impact that no-one was aware of.

What I had been doing

What I had been doing is what is now called “Spiritual Bypassing”.  The term has been around since the 80s, but I’ve only recently come across it.

Spiritual bypassing is a term created by psychologist John Welwood in 1984. It refers to the use of spiritual beliefs, practices, and experiences to avoid, or bypass dealing with uncomfortable feelings, unresolved pain and trauma, and basic emotional and psychological needs.

It involves using spiritual concepts, such as detachment, transcendence, or unconditional love, to bypass, or escape from uncomfortable feelings, personal growth work, or confronting one’s own shadow aspects.

Spiritual Bypassing

Instead of facing and addressing the deeper emotional and psychological aspects of oneself, individuals engaging in spiritual bypassing may focus solely on positive thinking, affirmations, or spiritual practices without acknowledging and processing their underlying emotional pain or unresolved traumas.

This can lead to a superficial or imbalanced approach to spiritual development, as it fails to integrate and heal the emotional and psychological aspects of a person’s being.

It’s an unhealthy and inauthentic defence mechanism used to distance ourselves from, or bury, uncomfortable emotions and feelings associated with events and trauma in our lives.

It’s when we pretend, we are OK, avoid acknowledging our baggage and think we need to be positive all of the time.

A Tapestry of Contrasts

However, the Universe doesn’t work this way.

This oversimplification contradicts the very nature of the Universe. Life is a tapestry of contrasts darkness and light, joy and sorrow, right and wrong — embracing the duality inherent of our existence.

Our brains are wired to avoid pain and our unconscious mind will do everything it can to dodge feeling negative emotions – including pretending that they aren’t there or aren’t that bad or important.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spirituality and all of its aspects.  I’m constantly learning from different spiritual and personal growth teachers.

Positive Mindset

It’s when we pretend that everything is love and light, being all spiritual and side-stepping, ignoring, burying, or pushing away negative feelings, that problems arise.  Having a positive mindset is great, if you acknowledge and heal anything negative as it arises.  Denying its existence and pretending positivity is not spiritual.

With negative emotions and our baggage, we have two options – Heal it or not.

If you heal it, release it, and grow from it, your spiritual journey will continue.

If you choose not to acknowledge or heal you push those negative emotions deep into the unconscious where they fester and cause all sorts of physical and emotional pain.  Doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it?

Spiritual Growth and Healing

True spiritual growth involves delving deep into the soul, into the self, to discover everything that is there, including the painful or not so nice aspects.

Healing is a big part of personal and spiritual growth.  You can’t have one without the other, no matter how hard you try.

So, if like me, as you learn and grow, you find that the Universe keeps steering you towards healing, maybe it would be a good idea to take the steps to do some of the work. 

I know it sounds and feels terrifying but honestly, it’s scarier to keep carrying it with you every day, isn’t it?