What Is Spiritual Bypassing: The Dark Side Of Spiritualism

Last Update on April 26, 2021 : Published on October 30, 2020
spiritual bypassing

Spiritualism is an effective way to learn about yourself, feel the goodness of life and find perfectionism within. Although spiritualism is widely practiced all over the world to keep yourself free from mental stress and attain calmness, it has a dark side known as spiritual bypassing.

What Is Spiritual Bypassing?

Spiritual bypassing is a term coined by John Wellwood who happened to be a prominent Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist in the 1980s. According to him, spiritual bypassing can be defined as “spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional ‘unfinished business’, to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings and developmental tasks’.

Spiritual bypassing acts as an unhealthy coping mechanism where a person masks uncomfortable emotions or simply dismisses the problems with their spiritual explanations. This doesn’t let them solve the deep embedded issues but delay the problems for a longer duration.

Welwood noticed that not even others but he was also using spiritualism as a defensive technique to avoid complicated feelings which ultimately showed timid growth.

Spiritual Bypassing and ways to stop

Image Source: themindfool.com

Also Read : Best Spiritual Teachings For Making Life Better

What Are The Signs Of Spiritual Bypassing

If you are also someone who is spiritual bypassing then some of the evident signs would be:

  • Avoiding anger or angry feelings
  • Being overly optimistic and completely avoiding the negative emotions
  • Finding silver lining behind every negative experience
  • Instead of understanding your own feelings, people with spiritual bypassing find other ways to deal with problems like horoscope or psychics.
  • Avoiding anger and outburst when emotional control is lost.
  • Showing that everything is fine despite they are not
  • Emotions like denial or repression act as defense mechanisms
  • Seeing the whole world through a spiritual lens and ignoring reality
  • Thinking that problems could be overcome with simple positive thinking alone.

Recognize Spiritual Bypassing

Now that you have understood the signs of spiritual bypassing, you can still relate yourself to sayings like:

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
  2. Whatever happens, happens for the best.
  3. We create our own happiness.
  4. It was a blessing in disguise.
  5. Good vibes only!

If you are using these lines for someone and some situation then beware of their problems beforehand. Someone dealing with grief or trauma may not find any of the above things helping and must be used very carefully.

Also Read: Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Spirituality

Causes & Effects Of Spiritual Bypassing

We often believe that things that are painful to deal with can be ignored but this ignorance comes with a cost. This ignorance can make your stress worse and even makes the problem a big deal. The driving force behind spiritual bypassing is often the wellness culture, permanent optimism and toxic positivity. People do not feel themselves doing well if they are feeling negative about anything.

However, spiritual bypassing may not always be negative and can serve as relief in times of negativity. The potential negative consequences for long term effects could be:

  • High anxiety
  • Codependency
  • Emotional confusion
  • Shameful feelings
  • Excessive tolerance towards unacceptable things
  • Spiritual narcissism which increases self-importance

Other negative effects include-

Denying own negative emotions like jealousy, disgust, annoyance and rage could be overwhelming at certain times. In fact, it can also lead to dismissing other’s emotions or gaslighting others.

The person may also judge others and even justify the sufferings with the name of ‘God’s act’. These explanations might help facing obstacles but may manifest depression, anxiety or other psychological problems in later stages.

How To Deal With Spiritual Bypassing?

It is important to understand that life cannot be all about good thoughts and good feelings only. There will always be a mix of emotions which we cannot pick, rather can endure highs as well as lows. Also, you can try applying the tricks like:

  • Naming every emotion as good or bad: Negative emotions are not a taboo and they don’t make you a bad person. All emotions must be accepted the way they are as they all are temporary and can change as per the conditions.
  • If you are dealing with any problem, sit down and find a solution rather than keeping it covered with roses.
  • Discomfort shows that you need to change the way you are thinking or acting in the moment. So act accordingly!
  • Challenge your spiritual explanations and learning and try weighing them in a reality balance with honest opinions.
  • Look for a therapist who can help you realize your own emotions. There is no need to completely avoid yoga or meditation but focus on listening to the inner soul.

Even the researchers and psychologists believe that spirituality acts as a great healer and combines a number of physical and mental effects but their judicious use is what makes a person a good learner. Moreover, those who are spiritually active are less prone to distress and depression and can easily cope with them.


Firstly, don’t be harsh on yourself for any mistake you have made or realized. Secondly, grow yourself mindfully from now on. This mindfulness will help you realize the importance of every emotion while understanding that spiritual bypassing is not a long term solution for every problem. Thirdly, don’t feel ashamed in asking for help from a psychologist who can show you the mirror of emotions in a better manner.

More Interesting Readings: 

Exploring The Scientific and Spiritual Benefits of Pranayama

Spiritual Teachings of Trees: The Power of Trees

How to Balance Mind, Body, and Soul During a Crisis

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.


  1. Rashi maheshwari
    Rashi maheshwari

    Amazing job done, people should know about this as well ♥️

  2. James

    Spiritual Bypassing never thought this is possible thank for sharing this useful information

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