The Obsession with New Age Spiritual Bypassing
Discussing the effects of the new age "love and light", "good vibes only" culture.
What is spiritual bypassing?
The term "Spiritual Bypassing" was first introduced by Buddhist teacher John Welwood in the 1980's. To explain thoroughly, spiritual bypassing occurs when an individual becomes disillusioned using spirituality as a band-aid to disconnect from reality to create a "good vibes only" persona. When I first dove into spirituality I remember falling into this trap myself. I was following influencers who would preach "love and light" culture, making people believe that if they didn't exude happiness and peace at all times, on all fronts, that they were doing something wrong and in turn attracting "negative" events and situations into their life. This issue with this ideal is that, quite frankly, we are humans. In the human experience there are wide ranges of emotions, and wide ranges of experiences. These things can simply not be avoided. There will be times that we face loss, that we will grieve, we will feel anger, we will witness injustice, we will see things that need changing and we will recognize that the world around us is not "Good Vibes Only". If every human being throughout time used the spiritual bypassing mechanism, there would be no improvements in human rights, or equality, or even technological advances. If we all sat back and decided that everyone's life is spouting rainbows and roses, we would lose our ability to improve and to help one another and ourselves.
The "good vibes only" culture engrains in us that if we feel emotions that are deemed "negative" such as anger, jealousy, grief, or sadness- we think that we are doing something wrong. When in fact, these emotions are 100% natural and they are each important teachers and when we feel these things there is always a lesson that they bring with them. These emotions only become a problem when they are expressed in ways that create chaos or upheaval. When we feel an emotion like anger, we are receiving a message about a situation. It is up to the individual to stop and decipher what this message is before acting on it. For example, many feel anger when they witness injustice. Why? The message your emotion is relaying to you is that you know a situation isn't fair and you want to do something to change it. If you ignore that emotion altogether, you miss your opportunity to create change. You have to look at these emotions as teachers rather than punishments you give yourself. Perhaps when you feel jealousy it isn't because your emotions are telling you to feel bitter about another person, maybe it is your emotions trying to kickstart your ambition and passion.. giving you the motivation to go after what you want. If they could do it, so can you. Perhaps when you feel grief it isn't just a painful punishment your emotions are putting you through, it is a reminder that you loved and you loved hard and whatever it is you are grieving deserves to be discussed and remembered with rawness, gratefulness, and love. After all, this is a temporary experience, a temporary existence as a human. We are here to feel all the feels, to heal all of the wounds we've picked up along the way. There can be no change if we pretend no change is ever needed.. we can not heal wounds if we pretend they aren't there.
This experience comes with duality, it is reflected all around us. Light and dark, day and night, hot and cold... it all plays a part and it is all necessary. We do ourselves a great disservice when we refuse to acknowledge our wounds. We can't call ourselves healers if we refuse to even heal ourselves. We can't influence others to have genuinely positive experiences if we have yet to learn how to transmute our own experiences. As hard as it is to accept, all of our experiences have been necessary and essential to our spiritual development and evolution here on Earth. All of the times we fell and it hurt like hell, we taught ourselves to rise again gaining strength and inspiring others. All of the tears that we shed that later created motivation to have and do better, all of the anger we've felt that inspired us to create a different life for ourselves and possibly others. Your emotions are not your enemy, they do not pop up to be suppressed and ignored. They pop up to be talked to, understood, and finally expressed in an innovative manner. These emotions and experiences, painful as they may be, are fuel for you. They are engorged with passion, and they are so powerful for good reason. They are here to remind you and encourage you to make the changes or heal the wounds that are holding you and your evolution back.
Spiritual bypassing can also come in the form of sitting back remaining complacent and assuming that "God" or the "Universe" will fix all of your problems while you sit and let life pass you by. Have you forgotten how powerful you are? The power of "God" or the "Universe" is within you and you've been given the power of creation and manifestation. Get up and start creating the life you want, if you can visualize it-- you can manifest it. Scratch "Good things come to those who wait" and replace it with "Good things come to those who CREATE."
If you're not feeling "love and light" all of the time, you're not doing anything wrong. Don't punish yourself for being unable to keep up with impossible, robotic standards. Honor your human experience and all that comes with it so that you can truly be open to all of the lessons that are coming your way. Be authentic in your feelings and your experiences and use them to propel yourselves and others' forward. After all, it was never the emotions that were "negative", it was unhealed expression of them. Consider all of the breathtaking music that was written fueled by pain, consider all the soul grasping art that was created fueled by painful experiences. In turn, others that are now feeling those feelings have someone/ something to relate to, they have motivation to keep moving forward. The lessons aren't just for our long term benefit, they are to be shared with the collective so that we can continue growing and evolving together as a species.
Honor all of your feelings, honor all of your experiences, and most importantly honor yourself for enduring and inspiring along the way. You simply can't evolve by pretending to, you actually have to do the work. Even when it is uncomfortable.
"Let it hurt, then let it go."
And when you do let it go, let it go with wisdom and love so that the rest of us can also learn from your experience and grow with you. In the words of the beloved Ram Dass "We are all just walking each other home." Don't shy away from your significant role in our collective evolution. We are natural energy transmuters. I know we are all capable of healing ourselves and manifesting beautiful, inspiring lives.
This is what we came for.