The Rise Of Spiritual Bypassing

How it is harmful to you.

Fahim Chughtai
Apr 15 · 8 min read
The Rise Of Spiritual Bypassing
Image source/Canva

The word was coined during the early 1980s with a transpersonal psychotherapist called John Welwood in his publication Toward a Psychology of Awakening. Under Welwood, spiritual bypassing could be described as:

“A trend to use spiritual thoughts and methods to avoid or prevent facing unresolved emotional problems, emotional wounds, and incomplete developmental tasks.”

As a therapist and Buddhist instructor, Welwood observed that people (such as himself) often wielded spirituality for a shield or sort of defense mechanism.

As opposed to working through challenging feelings or facing unresolved problems, people would dismiss them with religious explanations.

Even though it can be a means to protect the self from harm or to encourage harmony between individuals, it does not resolve the matter. On the contrary, it merely glosses over an issue, leaving it without any fair resolution.

When spirituality is employed as a defense mechanism to avoid facing genuine issues, it becomes our best deterrent, preventing us from creating authentic courage, credibility, and wholeness, qualities that refine our spirits.

While the use of spirituality can give us an excellent wall to hide behind, it traps us at an all-is-happy-and-perfect prison cell of illusions.

“Spiritual bypassing is the act of using spiritual beliefs to avoid facing or healing one’s painful feelings, unresolved wounds and unmet needs. It is a state of avoidance. Because it is a state of avoidance, it is a state of resistance. I personally, consider Spiritual bypassing to be the shadow side of spirituality.”

— Teal Swan

Spiritual Bypass works like Toxic Positivity.

Recognizing Spiritual Bypass

If you say these things, You May Be engaging in spiritual bypassing:

  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “You create your own happiness.”
  • “It was for the best.”
  • “This was a blessing in disguise.”
  • “Great vibes simply!”
  • “Thoughts and prayers!”

Signs of Spiritual Bypass

Spiritual bypassing is a method of hiding behind spirituality or religious practices. It prevents people from recognizing what they’re feeling and distances them from both others and themselves. Some examples of spiritual bypass are below:

  • Preventing feelings of anger
  • Believing in Your Spiritual excellences as a way to hide from insecurities
  • Considering that traumatic events need to function as “learning adventures” or that there’s a silver lining behind every negative experience
  • Considering that spiritual practices like prayer or meditation are always optimistic
  • Incredibly high, frequently unattainable, idealism
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Focusing only on spirituality and dismissing the present situation
  • Simply focusing on the positive or being too optimistic
  • Projecting your negative emotions on other people
  • Pretending that things are good if they’re not
  • Believing that Individuals can conquer their problems via positive believing
  • Believing that you have to “rise above” your emotions
  • Using defense mechanisms like denial and repression

Spiritual bypassing is a shallow method of glossing over issues that may make us feel better in the short term, but finally solves nothing and leaves the issue to linger on.

Types Of Spiritual Bypass

The simple truth is there are many types of spiritual bypassing that people occasionally don’t recognize (or refuse to recognize) in life. I’ve listed five of the most common types below:

The Optimistic Bypass

We’ve all come across people in life who like to laugh and smile, yet seem to be forcefully optimistic. “Concentrate on the positive!” “Watch the glass as half full!” “Do not allow a frown down you!” Are some of the catch cries of those men and women who are inclined to use optimism as a means of preventing the somber and troublesome realities of life. The optimistic bypass is often a side product of anger-phobia, or the inability to deal with negative emotions.

The Aggrandizement Bypass

This is a form of self-delusion that many spiritual seekers use to mask their perceived deficiencies and insecurities. The aggrandizement bypass is adopted by people who attempt to feel educated, enlightened, exceptional or attain higher-existence planes.

It is occasionally employed by self-proclaimed professionals, leaders, spiritually awakened spirits, and professionals.

The Prayer Bypass

The Prayer Bypass circumvents personal responsibility by placing faith in a higher being to address all our issues and problems.

While praying may be a healthy practice, it can quickly become limiting and misguided.

The Horoscope Bypass

When we frequently lookout for help and advice, as is with Horoscopes and Psychics’ case, we’re failing to tap into our inner wellsprings of wisdom and strength and enable external predictions to control the results of our own lives.

The Horoscope Bypass is derived from fear and mistrust of ourselves, our inability to make decisions, and our inability to manage anything complicated that comes our way.

The Saint Bypass

As children, we had been conditioned to feel that a “spiritual person” is always kind, compassionate, and saintly. In adulthood, we continue to replicate this story to ourselves, and sadly, it may cause us tremendous suffering.

The Saint Bypass is a manifestation of extreme “black or white” thinking, boosting the inherent belief that spiritual folks can’t have dark sides because that would make them “unspiritual.” This sort of bypass is essentially avoidance of one’s Shadow Self (dark side) by overcompensating with the guise of a sweet, heavenly exterior. Self-sacrifice is a significant symptom of the bypassing.


It protects us from items that look too painful to manage, yet this protection comes at a price. Ignoring or avoiding the problem can make anxiety worse in the long term and make the issue harder to fix in the future.

Even though avoidance is a primary motivator behind this kind of behavior, different aspects play a part in forming it.

Wellness culture, which frequently perpetuates thoughts of Toxic positivity and permanent optimism, is occasionally a driving force supporting spiritual bypassing.

It teaches people they can’t be healthy or well unless they can rise above any negativity. Ignoring these signs may result in worse problems in the future.

Harmful Impacts Of spiritual Bypass

Spiritual bypassing is not always a terrible thing. In times of acute distress, it may be a means to ease anxiety or frustration temporarily. But researchers suggest it may be harmful when utilized as a long-term solution to curb issues.

Spiritual bypassing may have lots of negative results.

It may impact individual well-being in addition to relationships with other individuals. Some of the possible negative consequences comprise:

  • Stress
  • Blind allegiance to leaders
  • Codependency
  • Control issues
  • Disregard for responsibility
  • Emotional harassment
  • Excessive tolerance of improper or inappropriate behavior
  • Feelings of pity
  • Spiritual narcissism

Spiritual narcissism involves using religious practices as a means to boost self-importance. It frequently entails using spirituality to construct them individually, while also trapping it as a weapon to tear down others.

1. Denying Difficult Emotions

People often take part in spiritual bypassing when they believe they shouldn’t be feeling what they’re feeling. Negative feelings can be overpowering sometimes.

Instead of dealing with all the negative emotions — and any consequent reactions to these feelings — spiritual bypassing becomes an instrument for avoidance.

As you should not attempt to curb your negative emotions to prevent distress, it’s also wise to control the urge to save others from feelings or situations which make you uncomfortable. Attempting to save or protect others — from their plight or their own poor decisions — may also develop into a kind of spiritual bypassing.

2. Dismissing Different People’s Emotions

Occasionally, spiritual bypassing may be utilized as an instrument to gaslight others to stay quiet about things that have harmed them.

Instead of being permitted to express their pain, those who’ve been mistreated are advised by others that they’re becoming a negative person.

3. Avoiding Responsibility

Spiritual bypassing also lowers the distress that individuals might feel as a consequence of cognitive dissonance. People today feel uneasy when they hold two contradictory beliefs or act in ways that aren’t in agreement with their ideas.

For instance, if you think yourself to be a fantastic person, you may struggle to take responsibility for hurtful things which you’ve done. Admitting you have hurt someone else during your activities causes feelings of guilt and works with your urge to find yourself in a favorable light.

In this manner, spiritual bypassing becomes a means to shift the blame back on another person when absolving yourself of any obligation.

4. Judging Others

Anger is a normal emotion and also a perfectly reasonable reaction to a lot of occasions and scenarios. It usually means there is something wrong, and that action must be taken to repair a circumstance or fix a connection.

True spirituality does not suppress emotions that are valid simply because they are uncomfortable. Judging other people for expressing genuine anger is a form of spiritual bypassing.

5. Justifying Suffering

Another example of spiritual bypassing is utilizing alleged is spiritual activities to justify not doing actions. Examples of this include saying matters like” it is that way for that reason,” it is as nature/God planned,” or even “it’s exactly what it is.” It allows people off the hook for carrying any obligation, because based on these explanations, these items are all-natural, unchangeable, or divinely caused.

6. Victim Blaming

Bypassing also becomes a kind of victim-blaming, particularly when individuals experience the adverse effects of several types of trauma.

Telling people they ought to stop being unwanted to prevent fatigue, nervousness, depression, and other physiological and mental manifestations of anxiety means they are to blame for their pain and distress.

How TO Avoid Spiritual Bypassing?

Spiritual bypassing may work to protect the self out of matters that people find threatening, but it neglects a significant fact.

We can’t pick and choose the feelings we encounter. Life cannot be great ideas, feelings, and emotions. To be able to go through the highs, then we must also suffer the lows.

Some Things Which You can do to Attempt to face a Propensity to spiritual Bypass include:

Avoid tagging feelings as bad or good. When some emotions might be unpleasant or harmful, they serve a function. Emotional experiences aren’t erroneous or taboo, believing that these feelings will not make you a terrible person. Try seeing your emotions with approval and keep in mind that all emotional states are just momentary.

Recall that negative ideas and feelings serve a goal. Life’s objective isn’t to prevent having such ideas; it’s using those ideas to propel positive activities.
Recall that uneasy feelings are often an indication that there is something wrong and something should change.

If you’re always trying to decrease distress simply by preventing it, the scenarios causing you distress will remain the same. Look at these embarrassing feelings as a chance for transformation as opposed to a burden to avoid.

Last words

Do not be too hard on yourself for errors. Development is a process, and it’s easy to fall into old habits, particularly when you’re attempting to deal with something challenging. Spirituality could be a positive force in your own life, and lots of spiritual practices can be outstanding anxiety management tools.

By knowingly avoiding spiritual bypassing, you can make spirituality a clinic that can allow you to live a more harmonious and satisfying lifestyle.

Change Becomes You

Life advice that will (actually) change your life.

Fahim Chughtai

Written by

Follow me for personal development, mental health issues and well-being. Subscribe to my Newsletter.

Change Becomes You

Life advice that will (actually) change your life. Curated stories from The Good Men Project.

Fahim Chughtai

Written by

Follow me for personal development, mental health issues and well-being. Subscribe to my Newsletter.

Change Becomes You

Life advice that will (actually) change your life. Curated stories from The Good Men Project.

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