Spiritual Bypassing is not the Answer
There was a time when I thought I had to be perfect!
And for me, part of being perfect was pretending that I wasn’t ever angry, envious, judgmental. I was afraid to look at my negative thoughts and beliefs because I didn’t want to manifest negative or dark things in my life. After all, how could I be perfect if my outside life was negative or dark? Not only that, but how could I teach, mentor, or guide congregants or clients when I was right where they were?
So, I avoided my negative thoughts and feelings and pretended they weren’t there. I thought this was the spiritual thing to do. After all, aren’t we told we need to not get angry, always forgive quickly, and stay away from negative vibrations?
Then, about 8 years ago, I came across the topic of “spiritual bypassing,” a term coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984 and it was a real eye-opener for me. Spiritual bypassing is when we use our spiritual practices or beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, our unresolved wounds, and our needs.
That described me to a “T.” However, I was afraid that I had buried so much negativity that if I ever got around to looking at it, I’d never recover. That I’d be lost in an abyss of sadness, regret, and self-loathing.
I’m nothing if not courageous when it comes to self-awareness, so I started that journey to look at my negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. And when I finally allowed myself to fully feel my negative feelings – and allow them and make friends with them – I felt like I was finally free. Free of the pretending. Free of living ‘life in neutral.’ Free to be me. And 8 years later, I’m still excited about this topic.
How does this get started?
Learning to hide our feelings starts early in life. Most of us weren’t encouraged to display intense emotions, especially negative ones. We had to behave and mind our manners. Maybe we got the message that ‘children are seen and not heard.’ Talking back? Only if you wanted your mouth washed out with soap! How about this one (my un-favorite)? “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” So, our anger, frustration, and questioning got buried.
On a more subtle level, we may have been separated during the holiday meal and put at the ‘kid’s table.’ Chances are there wasn’t enough room at the main table, but a possible subtle message is that our opinions aren’t important and don’t want to be heard by the adults or those in charge.
And of course, chances are that we didn’t have any role models on how to effectively display negative or intense emotions. Our parents were subject to the same early messages (or even worse) as we were. So, it’s possible that anger, frustration, or resentment became rage, violence, or abuse of power.
To stay safe, we stayed quiet.
But it’s time to reclaim our wholeness and authenticity. It’s time to reclaim our voice. It’s time to reclaim our power. It’s time to deal with our painful feelings, our unresolved wounds, and our needs. I say it’s time because when we carry around this buried baggage, we may be hiding a vital part of who we are. We may be denying our gifts, our strengths, or even our needs.
What I didn’t realize was this: as a healer and a guide, the very thing that I was working through was the EXACT thing that I was helping my clients with. I was attracting what I was healing and helping others along the way. In fact, we’re always growing, healing, and evolving. That’s part of being human (the fun part, IMHO).
I’m taking a stand. In order to create a badass life, raising our ‘vibration’ is not enough. We need to stop hiding our feelings and learn to use these uncomfortable feelings to uncover our brilliance and unmask our beauty, power, and authenticity! We can leverage the intensity of our feelings to push through our blocks and rise up and reclaim our power.
Scary? Yes! But it feels right to me. It feels like an authentic approach to living my life and helps me be me.
For now, I invite you to reflect on your early upbringing. What were the messages you received that may have first started the ball rolling in the ‘emotion-hiding’ business. Don’t forget, our early messages don’t just come from our families. They can come from teachers, friends, clergy, and even TV. See if any of those early messages still play in your mind or still get a reaction.
Say YES to yourself by feeling your feelings
Women hire Janet to design a life of meaning, fulfillment, and passion because most struggle with putting everyone else first, playing small, and feeling like a fraud. She helps them crush their excuses so they can move beyond the negative voices in their head and unleash their purpose, unmask their self-confidence, and uncover possibilities that they have been blind to.
Bottom line: You need to say “YES” to yourself to live the aligned life you were meant to live.