What is Spiritual Bypassing? Types, Signs

Spirituality brings to mind dazzling images of sunset, paradise, enlightened masters and angles, and a state of inner peace, joy, contentment, and happiness. It’s true and amazing and it attracts the attention of many people. However, the journey to achieve such a state of mind is dark, exhausted, and painful. When you don’t work on inner transformation and deep self-growth, then spiritual bypassing gives you a false sense of happiness. Today, we’ll discuss what is spiritual bypassing; types, signs, causes, and examples of spiritual bypassing. 

John Welwood first introduced the term “spiritual bypassing” and he said in his interview like this: 

“I saw happening in the Buddhist community I was in, and also in myself. Although many of us were sincerely trying to work on ourselves, I noticed a widespread tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.” 

What is Spiritual Bypassing? 

Spiritual bypassing is the process of using spiritual ideas and spirituality to escape, suppress, and avoid deep unresolved and uncomfortable issues of life. Those issues could be emotional & mental health issues, fear, self-sabotage, low self-esteem, loneliness, abuse, family issue, breakup, or any other. 

Here you use spirituality as a defense mechanism, and it prevents you from refining the qualities of your soul, achieving wholeness, authenticity, and developing true courage. It’s important to keep in mind that SB doesn’t resolve any of your emotional and psychological issues. In fact, it just shines bright on the problem and leaves the issues to fester and aggravates without any resolution. 

Signs of Spiritual Bypassing 

Some of the main signs of spiritual bypassing are as follows; 

  • Following the defensive approach of repression and denial
  • Believing that you should be above your emotions
  • Following an approach that people can manage their problems with positive thinking
  • Pretending that things are well when they aren’t 
  • Shifting your negative emotions to others
  • Remaining overly optimistic and positive 
  • Avoiding reality and focusing on the spirituality 
  • Detaching yourself 
  • High and unattainable idealism 
  • Thinking that spiritual practices like prayers and mediation are positive and optimistic 
  • You approach traumatic experiences as a way to learn things 
  • Focusing on your own spiritual superiority and hiding your insecurities 
  • Ignoring angry feelings  

Spiritual Bypass Phrases 

Some of the common spiritual bypassing phrases that you should check whether you’re doing it or not; 

“Thoughts & Prayers 

Good Vibes only 

It was a blessing in disguise 

It was for the best

You create your own happiness 

Everything happens for a reason”

Causes of Spiritual Bypassing 

Some of the main causes of spiritual bypassing are as follows; 

  • People use spiritual bypassing as a defensive approach in order to deal with difficult emotions. The avoidance comes at the cost of aggravating stress in the long run, and it becomes difficult to resolve later. 
  • The culture of staying positive and always optimistic is also the main reason behind SB. It spreads a belief that you can’t be happy unless you remain positive and avoid negativity. However, it’s important to keep in mind that negative emotions are a part of life and they mean change. When you ignore negative emotions, then it creates problems in the long term. 
  • The culture of individualism supports the idea that you can’t truly be happy unless you reach the stage of self-actualization and avoid difficult emotions that are painful to process. The individualistic approach tells people that they’re solely responsible for their life and destiny.

Types of Spiritual Bypassing 

The reality of life isn’t all about love and light as many spiritual seekers claim. In order to achieve deep interconnectedness and enlightenment, sometimes you have to set yourself on fire (metaphorically speaking) by facing the most different experiences of life. However, you emerge from the ashes and are reborn by embracing all the destruction of life. It gives you a new perspective of purity and clarity. 

After discussing what is spiritual bypassing, it’s also important to be aware of the spiritual bypassing that we don’t recognize in life. Some of the main types of spiritual bypassing are as follows; 

Finger Pointing Bypass 

When you start seeing the delusion, lies, and deceit of human behaviors, then it makes you frustrated, downhearted, and angry. You start pointing fingers at the world and people by “everything that is wrong.” However, it distracts us from taking responsibility and working on ourselves with a false sense of righteousness. Avoidance and fear are the main sources of finger-pointing bypass. 

Guru bypass 

It’s significant to follow the teacher or guru and learn from them. Some pupils become overly attached to their teacher, and it becomes a guru bypass. However, the over-attachment makes them start worshipping the guru and stops using their own mind. They forget that the goal of listening is to learn from their teaching. Therefore, it prevents them from progressing into their spiritual path and journey. 

Prayer bypass 

Prayer bypass is when you avoid your personal responsibilities and expect that the higher power would solve all of your problems. Prayers are good and very healthy practice, but it has its limitations and could misguide you. 

Spirit Guide bypass 

It’s a customary belief in spirituality that angels, the holy spirit, or the guide would protect us from impending danger. It’s a classic form of spirit guide bypass where you put your faith in the other being and avoiding responsibilities. However, the reality is that we’re adults and creating our own lives and realities the way we want. Then why fail to strengthen our spiritual character the way we want. You should remember that a spirit guide is there to teach us, instead of babysitting us. 

Saint bypass 

We learn the perception earlier in our lives that spiritual people are saints, kind, and compassionate beings. This perception is the cause of much suffering when we grow up. However, the saint bypass creates either black or white thinking. For instance, it’s a common belief that spiritual people don’t have a dark side in their character. If they do, then it makes them unspiritual. It means that you avoid your dark side and pretend an exterior of heavenly, sweet, and kind, and such self-sacrificing is the main reason for saint bypassing. 

Horoscope bypass 

When you find guidance from external sources, then it is horoscope bypass. When you don’t find strengths and wisdom within yourself, then you allow external factors to control the outcome of your life. However, it means that you fear and distrust yourself, and are incapable of making the right decisions. 

Psychonaut bypass

Many spiritual seekers use psychedelic drugs like entheogens, mescaline, mushroom, DMT, or LSD to explore the reality, mind, and soul. It is a unique and excellent way of exploring mind, reality, and soul. However, usage of drugs means that you’re escaping from reality and avoiding the soul refinement and personal development process. 

Victim bypass

Victimizing takes away the pressure of responsibility for developing a satisfying life and taking responsibility for your own life. Many spiritual seekers often have this victim bypass where they say that they have an amazing gift, but it made them feel numb to enjoy happiness and joy. For instance, empathy is a gift of many spiritual seekers, but it has made them volatile and self-destructive because they feel the emotions of other people. This is a victim bypass. 

Aggrandizement bypass

Aggrandizement bypass is common among self-proclaim gurus, spiritual awakening souls, leaders, and masters. It’s a form of self-delusion where they hide their insecurities and deficiencies because they want to be perceived as superior and fully enlightened souls. 

Optimistic bypass 

We all love to be optimistic, smile and laugh in our lives, and some put over emphasis on the positivity of life. Such people avoid the troublesome realities of life by focusing on optimism. However, the optimistic bypass usually happens when you don’t know how to deal with your negative emotions. 

Impact of Spiritual Bypassing 

Spiritual bypassing doesn’t do any harm in the short term. In fact, it helps you to relieve anxiety and frustration. Many research studies have proven that SB has very negative effects in the long term. Some of the main negative side effects of SB are as follows; 

  • Spiritual narcissism 
  • Feeling of shame
  • Unacceptable behavior or excessive tolerance 
  • Emotional confusion 
  • Avoiding personal responsibilities 
  • Control problems 
  • Co-dependency
  • Blind allegiance to teachers 
  • Anxiety 

Example of Spiritual Bypassing 

It’s difficult to identify SB because there’s a very subtle difference. Some of the main examples of SB are as follows; 

  • When one of your neighbors behaves badly and crosses boundaries of respect, and you don’t confront his behavior, instead your focus is on suppressing the anger and remain tolerant.
  • Your friend is angry is about something that someone has wronged him. When he shares his feelings with you, then you tell him “stop being so negative.”
  • After the death of a person’s father, people console him by saying “it’s all part of God’s plan” and “he’s in a better place.” 

It’s significant to keep in mind that people use SB to dismiss real-life issues like hatred, discrimination, etc. Their suggestion to the victim is to be patient, civil, nice, tolerant, etc. In fact, a person with positive thinking could deal with difficult social issues. 

Conclusion: What is Spiritual Bypassing? Types, Signs, Causes, Impact 

After an in-depth study of what is spiritual bypassing; the types, signs, causes, and examples of spiritual bypassing, we’ve concluded that SB is a commonly observable phenomenon in our societies across the world. People use spirituality as a shortcut to avoid facing difficult emotional issues, and it badly impacts them in the long term.