Hi sweet ones! This week I’m excited to dive into the topic of spiritual bypassing with you. This was a term originally coined in 1984 by psychologist John Wellwood.
I know I talk a big game about thinking positively and focusing on the good. This is at the foundation of my spiritual practice, however, there can be danger in positive thinking, if you are negating how you actually feel in any given moment.
Let’s face it, we don’t always feel positive. We’re humans with past hurts, current resentments and a myriad of emotions constantly flowing through us. It can be hard to “think positive” if you are feeling anything but positive.
Spiritual bypassing is using spiritual practice or spiritual principles (such as positive thinking) to avoid or cover up what you are actually feeling or experiencing in the moment.
Emotions seek expression and will find ways to express themselves no matter what. The danger in avoiding how you really feel because you think it’s too “negative,” is that the negative feeling that you’re covering up will come out in an around the back door, distorted way.
An example of spiritual bypassing is this: Let’s say you’re really frustrated and angry at a friend who continually shows up late to your hang outs. You think it’s unspiritual to be angry. Instead, you tell yourself you should just accept people for who they are and love them unconditionally, no matter how they behave.
So, you don’t say anything to your friend who is perpetually late and keeps you waiting.
Does the frustration and anger just go away on it’s own? No.
If you avoid something, pretend it’s not there or cover it up, it doesn’t just go away.
You may not be looking at it, but it’s still there.
What happens in these types of situations, which I call spiritual bypassing, is that you are bypassing how you are truly feeling, in the name of “spirituality.”
If you don’t look at it or express it in a healthy way, the frustration and anger gets pushed down and will reside in your unconscious, and will come out later in a twisted way.
Remember, emotions seek expression. If they are not expressed consciously by you, then they will be expressed in another way, unconsciously by you.
With the example of the friend who always shows up late – If you do not express your frustration to your friend, then your frustration will still be expressed, because you won’t be able to control it from coming out.
You may make a subtle dig at your friend in the form of a snide comment. You may start showing up late yourself out of spite. You may gossip to your other friends how your friend always shows up late. You may think mean thoughts about your friend in your mind.
It’s important to acknowledge how you are feeling in any given moment.
In addition, it’s also important to express how you are feeling.
I’m not saying it’s a good idea to go around raging at people! What I am saying is that if you are feeling angry, annoyed, frustrated, sad or hurt, it’s okay to feel it and to voice it.
With the example I gave with the friend showing up late, you could say something like this: “When you show up late I’ve noticed that I feel frustrated because it causes me to have to wait for you, when I could be doing something else with my time. Could you please commit to working on showing up on time for our hang outs?”
What your friend does with that information is their business. You took care of your business by sharing authentically. Based upon your friend’s response, you then have a choice in how you would like to proceed with hanging out.
Feel your feelings. Here are some ways to process through negative feelings:
- Do intense exercise – Moving your body helps to cycle energy through you.
- Blast your favorite music while driving and sing along – Activate your throat chakra, which is responsible for expression, by singing and/or screaming your favorite song.
- Journal – Writing down how you are feeling helps you to express it and move it through you.
- Talk to a trusted friend, family member or coach – Identify a safe person that you can freely talk to and just “let it rip” without worrying about having to be PC.
Being a spiritual person in my opinion, above all else, means being authentically you.
I want you to know that I love you — I love all your parts, the positive, the negative and everything in between. You are safe to fully be yourself. I accept you.
The next time you catch yourself trying to be “spiritual” or positive, when you’re just not really feeling that way, tune into how you are really feeling, and make space for that feeling to come out and cycle through you. At the other end of negative, yucky feeling emotions is your center. Trust you will always come back to your center, which is where love, positivity, goodness and wholeness lives.
Love and Feeling Your Feelings,