What is Spiritual Bypassing?

Written by Andrea Butler

Andrea manages all social media and content for Nati’s Health. She is also a freelance content specialist & writer, and holds an MA in Political Communications. Originally from New York, she is currently enjoying life on the other side of the Atlantic.

16 Apr, 2021

Coined by psychotherapist John Wellwood, spiritual bypassing is the “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished development tasks.”

We often fall prey to the negative aspects of wellness culture, which tell us that we cannot be well or healthy unless we are able to rise above any negativity. However, regardless of how much we try to live a “positive vibes only” lifestyle, bad things can and will happen. Pain is an inevitable part of the human experience 

Not only are negative emotions normal, but they are often a sign that we need to change something in our lives. Just like our bodies warn us with pain when something isn’t working quite right, our emotions show us that something external isn’t quite right either, such as a job or relationship.

When we suppress or ignore our pain, we’re just prolonging our suffering. When we face our pain headon and actually try to “figure it out,” as hard as it may be, we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to overcome that pain. 

If you say these things, you might be engaging in spiritual bypassing:

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“You create your own happiness.”

“It was for the best.”

“It was a blessing in disguise.”

“Good vibes only!”

“Thoughts and prayers.”

In short, spiritual bypassing is a defense mechanism we use to focus on positivity and enlightenment, while ignoring painful emotions and harmful behaviours.  Pain and suffering are natural and unavoidable parts of human life. It is only by accepting and embracing this that we can truly grow and thrive.

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