Are You A Victim Of Spiritual Bypassing?

Oct 20, 2019 | Authentic Living, Honoring Your Spirit

When difficult times strike, and they will, it’s important to acknowledge how you feel, act authentically from that place as best you can, and not bypass your feelings.  The best way to the other side of a difficult situation is usually by going straight through it.  You can’t do that if you bypass how you feel.

 Who is This Really About

When anyone tries to get you to bypass your feelings in the name of being “spiritual,” it means they’re making the situation and how you feel more about them than about you.  Often it’s done from some sort of misguided, though well-intended belief that being spiritual means not allowing negative energy, thoughts, people or situations impact you.  This is totally unrealistic and stunts our growth and evolution.  We learn the most from our difficult experiences.  These people may not be doing it intentionally or even consciously, but it’s often because how you feel is uncomfortable for THEM.  Comments like try not to think about it, it will be okay, don’t be depressed (like it’s a choice) rarely help or change anything other than making you shut down which is unhealthy.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a firm believer that life is usually happening for, not to, us even though it may be challenging to see at times.  Often when we reflect on our difficulties, in hindsight, we can see how those difficulties helped to grow and stretch us in more ways than they hurt us.  It’s also important that you be allowed and even encouraged to go through your own emotional process and feel what you are feeling while being supported.

You Don’t Need Fixing, At Least Not Right Now

Making it about you means well-meaning friends and/or family are accepting your feelings even if that’s doing nothing more than quietly, gently, and lovingly listening to you share those feelings.  It’s being with you (and your feelings) while in your presence.  Not wandering into what would make them feel better.  It’s holding a space for you to be and feel authentically who you are in that moment without judgment, making you feel inadequate, or like you need to be fixed in some way.

I love a story I heard many years ago about a little boy who used to enjoy wandering next-door to visit his elderly neighbors.  Having no family nearby, they treated him as a surrogate grandson.  When the man’s wife suddenly passed away he was quite bereft.  The little boy visited with him more often.  One day when he came home from one of those visits, his mother curiously asked, “What do you and Mr. Blake do together?”  The little boy innocently looked up at his mom and replied, “Oh, usually I just sit and help him cry.”  

Spiritual Bypassing Alert

How we innately know how to do this as children and why we lose that knowledge as adults are beyond me.  But be aware that if people’s attempts to make you feel better don’t, it’s a safe bet that they’re trying to get you to join them in spiritual bypassing which has less to do with you and more to do with their needs and feelings. 

Buddhist teacher, author, and nun Pema Chodron put it well, “Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear… are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back.  They’re like messengers that tell us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.”  Don’t bypass them for anyone.  Take heed and learn what they came to teach you.

The following are some helpful examples of the difference between holding a space and encouraging unhealthy spiritual bypassing.

This is hard.  You’ve done hard things before and you’ll get through this too, but take all the time you need and go easy on yourself.
You’ll get over it in time just fake it until you make it!
It’s normal to have some negativity in a situation like this and it’s okay.
Just be positive!
It’s probably pretty hard to be positive right now. I’m here for you.
Stop being so negative, focus on what’s going right!
Sometimes giving up is okay.  Do you want to talk about it? What’s your ideal outcome?
Never give up. Just think happy thoughts because like attracts like!
It can’t be fun to feel like you do right now. I am here. Is there something I can do to help?
Just try not to think about it or you’ll be sad and that won’t help.
It’s probably really hard to see any good in this right now. We’ll make sense of it all later if you like.  Right now it’s okay to feel whatever you feel.
Try to be grateful, it could be worse.


Are you going through a difficult time?  Could you use support in dealing with the feelings you’re experiencing?  Schedule your Schedule your FREE EXPLORATORY SESSION here.  I promise, there will be no hard sell.  I have no personal attachment to the outcome of our conversation beyond your feeling better for our having had it. For more information about living authentically, click here and get your FREE copy of my “GUIDE TO AUTHENTIC LIVING: Ten Things People Who Live Authentically Know And Do…And So Can You.”

Lorraine emphasizes self-discovery, enhancing authenticity, and personal foundation work in her coaching for individuals, groups and small businesses.

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