Spiritual Bypassing: Using spirituality to avoid facing your problems

What is Spiritual Bypassing?

Spiritual bypassing is a defense mechanism that is sneaky to detect because you’re being “spiritual.” Just like every other defense mechanism, it actually blocks you from the truth. It disconnects you from your true feelings, and it holds you back from seeing the big picture. It’s basically using “spirituality” and doing “growth work” to avoid and repress truly facing your shit head-on and taking radical responsibility. It’s using self-help, self-discovery, yoga, astrology, spiritual practices, and all things “woo” to avoid doing the actual work. Spiritual bypassing happens in all areas of self-development, growth, therapy, and healing.

Signs of Spiritual Bypassing

Here are some signs of spiritual bypassing and what it can look like:

  • Being overly detached
  • Being overly idealistic
  • Being overly compassionate
  • Pretending everything is fine when it isn’t
  • Over emphasizing the positive and not honoring the negative
  • Being self-righteous around being woke and enlightened
  • Being busy doing good things in the world when it’s really avoidance
  • Following spiritual and woke accounts
  • Re-sharing posts, memes, and quotes, but you’re actually not living that yourself
  • Using the lingo and knowing about it without actually doing the real work
  • Relying heavily on astrology, readings, and “woo” to give you answers
  • Not focusing on the present and living in a spiritual realm most of the time
  • Last but not least, checking off the self-development boxes without actually looking at your shit


How Does Spiritual Bypassing Play Out?

When we do spiritual bypassing, we will twist non-attachment and turn it into detachment. We will go from detachment to being like, “Oh, this isn’t me, I’m not part of this,” to then it can evolve or devolve into becoming a rescuer, which can devolve into being a martyr, which can then devolve into self abandonment.

We also act like everything is ok because we’re afraid that we’re going to be perceived as unworthy or lovable if “I’m not always growing and healing.” Then we do spiritual bypassing because we believe that “I have to be the best at growing and healing,” so you can never have a bad day. 

“Everything is great. Look at me and my crystals! Oh my god, I’m so enlightened. Oh my gosh! Look at my morning routine today. I’m so enlightened. I’m the best at growing and healing.”  There’s no growth from that.

How to Stop Spiritual Bypassing

Spiritual practice and personal growth aren’t just about feeling good and winning all the time. It’s about learning how to be present and trust the process no matter what you’re going through at that moment.

You might say, “I don’t feel good all the time, so I must be doing it wrong and not on my path to enlightenment.” Instead, you want this to transform into noticing that there are times you don’t feel good, and you understand that this is an opportunity to dig deeper into what you’re avoiding or repressing.

When you get faced with shit, that is an opportunity for you to grow. It is an opportunity to face something head-on and to actually transcend, to come into an awakening.

Understand that “I notice I feel and think this way. Therefore, I should dig deeper to understand why I believe this is true and identify the actual truth that will set me free.”

This is the work.