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What Is Spiritual Bypassing? [It Causes More Harm Than Good]

By: Natalie viglione

What is spiritual bypassing anyway?

Spiritual bypassing, or a spiritual bypass, is when someone uses spirituality to ignore a big truth, ignore "darker" aspects of themselves, or ignore heavy emotions, to name a few examples. People use this technique to "hide behind" spirituality to keep them away from knowing their true self, which also keeps them separated from others.

spiritual bypassing is a defense mechanism

It's a defense mechanism program that can run within a person and usually gets installed when a person decides they can't look at some ugly truths, don't want to feel the super heavy emotions, or they just don't want to see things for how they really are. The bottom line, it's a way for a person to ignore important issues happening in their lives (or in the world) and using the "gloss over" to never really deal with things that have taken place or are taking place currently.

Many can use this mechanism to try to be seen as the "everything is always fine" person when the reality at home or when they're alone could be quite different. In fact, it can even be used to evade having to stand up for what's right using lines like "everything happens for a reason." While this is true, saying that and not standing up for one's own dignity, honor, or standing up for truth, justice for others (or yourself) is NOT positive. This evasion causes more harm for the one that is doing the spiritual bypassing, and for others around them.

It might be a good time to cue for the Lego movie song "Everything is Awesome!" but even as this movie displayed, that song was played by the Lego town "government" as a control mechanism when the reality is that everything certainly was NOT awesome in their little town. It's a pretty deep movie if you haven't seen it yet and worthy of a watch!

The way I innerstand this concept (instead of "understanding" I now use the word INNERstand!) spiritual bypassers consistently are those that try to sugar coat everything. The "everything is lollipops, rainbows and kittens" type of folks who use spirituality to mask the real shit. Often they hide deep emotions, and never really "DEAL" with the truth of a situation.

Here are some other examples of spiritual bypassing that I thought were spot on from VeryWell Mind and I couldn't have made a better list myself:

  • Avoiding feelings of anger
  • Believing in your own spiritual superiority as a way to hide from insecurities
  • Believing that traumatic events must serve as “learning experiences” or that there is a silver lining behind every negative experience
  • Believing that spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer are always positive
  • Extremely high, often unattainable, idealism
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Focusing only on spirituality and ignoring the present
  • Only focusing on the positive or being overly optimistic
  • Projecting your own negative feelings onto others
  • Pretending that things are fine when they are clearly not
  • Thinking that people can overcome their problems through positive thinking  
  • Thinking that you must “rise above” your emotions
  • Using defense mechanisms such as denial and repression 

spotting spiritual bypassing

I have a really great example of this to share. I had this woman contact me for guidance in her life as she was feeling very confused and needed help figuring some things out and after talking to her for a bit, I offered her a spot in my program and she was excited to get started! Then, the following week on Monday, she calls me and says that she actually won't be able to do the program after all because she decided that she didn't need to do the inner work and told me that "Jesus will do it for me."

I will never forget this, because this is one of THE worst spiritual bypasses I think I have ever heard. This was a few years ago now and it still stands in the #1 winner slot.

Spiritual evolution and inner work cannot be done by anyone else out there... NO ONE. We each have to do that ourselves! But a person that uses spiritual bypassing will certainly think that it can be put onto something else...

Another good example is someone that thinks that everyone else's problem should become your own problem too because everything is a lesson. This is a very negative way of looking at trauma and pain. By taking on OTHER PEOPLE'S negativity, fear, etc. we actually distort our energies even further. And, there's a much larger picture here that most negative thoughts and energies are in fact NOT OURS... this is a huge concept I'll have to dive into some other time. But, negative energies prey on people to take on the low frequency energies because, as that old saying goes, misery loves company. So, spiritual bypassing can cause great harm in one's life by having people take on energies that they should not be taking on and stops them from putting up powerful boundaries around themselves to stand up for their truth and build a life they desire (not a life someone else pushes on them, for example).

keeping yourself true to YOUR OWN spiritual growth and evolution

Spiritual bypassing can stunt growth because those that do this will never truly delve into feeling ALL the feels, and won't learn how to traverse the darkness (aka shadows) as much as the light in their own life (or seeing this reality out in our world). Also, this defense mechanism doesn't allow a person to get SUPER RAW with who they truly are. DisrUPtions are the catalysts that lead us to GREAT evolution and growth... (this is the ethos of my program and what I talk about in my podcast all the time!).

Spiritual bypassing creates a very superficial facade around a person and keeps them very much at a distance from not only themselves, but also distant from other people.

The more authentic, real, and raw one can be with themselves, the more that they can open up their lives to allow others in and stay true to who they are no matter what. It's owning ALL the things, and being able to look at the bigger picture of what is at work in our world. Our world is a free will planet and there's a duality at play that is positive and negative. These are the concepts of light and dark, the yin and yang... and all aspects of this truth needs to be fully seen and understood. By deeply getting this, we can create far greater experiences for ourselves in our unique journeys, and opens us up to receive higher wisdom to come in which means faster growth and evolution to take place.