Ninety-Nine Sure Signs of Spiritual Bypassing
“The idea of “spiritual bypass” is simple: It’s when we use our spiritual beliefs and experiences as a way to deny our deeper and more sincere life needs. These sincere needs may be around belonging, career, money, power, self-expression, or sexuality.”
~ Mark Forman
What does spiritual bypass have to do with happiness? When we use spiritual ideas to ignore pain, suffering, and desire, those emotions never go away. They leak out in unexpected ways and continue to torture us in the most inopportune moments. If we investigate them instead and immerse ourselves in the feelings of lack, anger, shame, and so forth—without wallowing in them, of course—they become the very fire that transmutes our fear to love and leaves only strongest parts of ourselves shining forth. Therefore the following list is meant to entertain and highlight your own bypassing tendencies (we all do it) so you can allow yourself to have and express the feelings that are keeping you from peace.
1. You only focus on the positive.
2. You never get angry.
3. You get angry but you hide it.
4. You confuse anger with aggression and ill will.
5. You never share your “dark” side—shame, anxiety, loneliness, self-loathing, etc.
6. You’re afraid to admit your fears, uncertainty, and shortcomings to your spiritual peers.
7. You feel exceedingly guilty about your shadow side.
8. You are numb to your emotions.
9. You are compassionate toward others but hard on yourself for falling short of your spiritual ideals.
10. You dismiss your feelings as “unenlightened” or a “lower vibrational frequency.”
11. You take spirituality like a drug, in order to feel high.
12. You take drugs as your sole spiritual practice.
13. You think that having a bad day means you are not spiritual enough.
14. You understand spiritual concepts far more than you can practice them.
15. You believe you have arrived at a higher level of Being.
16. You believe that you are more evolved than everyone else.
17. You think psychotherapy and coaching is beneath you.
18. You think only spiritual practices are important.
19. You think that anything whatsoever is “beneath you.”
20. You think you see the full picture.
21. You think you are exceedingly humble.
22. You use meditation to escape the stress of life.
23. You use Witnessing to dissociate from feelings of pain and suffering.
24. You lament how other people just don’t understand “oneness.”
25. Whenever you see people fighting or arguing you think that we should rise above our difficulties and simply embrace Oneness.
26. You are extremely negative about negativity.
27. You shame other people for expressing “unspiritual” emotions.
28, You use the following phrases to hide that you are shaming other people for their emotions, “I’m just saying,” “I apologize if my words come across as insensitive,” “I am doing this out of my compassion for you,” “I’m still learning to be more clear in my communication.”
29. You equate compassion with acceptance of actions, even if they are hurting someone.
30. You do not consistently engage in shadow work.
31. Your shadow work is entirely a mental process.
32. You want sex to make you feel better.
33. You think that the right intention, power phrase, mindset, or prayer will get you what you want.
34. You elevate pre-personal, pre-rational ideas, philosophies, and objects—such as crystals, Mayan calendars, and tribal living—to transpersonal, trans-rational status.
35. You assume that you know what other people are going through and do not ask them or check your assumptions.
36. You are constantly giving people spiritual advice and referring to how you overcame their exact problem in the past.
37. You use the following phrases to minimize emotions: “Don’t take it personally,” “Whatever bothers you about someone is really only about you,” and “It’s all just an illusion.”
38. You think being nice is spiritual.
39. You hide your judgment because you think it is a sign of being non-spiritual.
40. You constantly impale yourself with various spiritual “shoulds”: “I should not show [insert any emotion here],” “I should not be so [insert any emotion here],” “I should be more [insert any positive attribute like peaceful or loving],” “I should be more open after all the time I’ve put into my spiritual practice,” “I should have forgiven him/her sooner.”
41. You think Eastern spirituality is legitimate and Western spirituality is mistaken (or vice versa).
42. You believe there is one right way for everyone.
43. You know the one right way and everyone else is a dumbass, especially all of those [insert the religion you grew up in].
44. You think spirituality has nothing to do with the body.
45. You are in a hurry.
46. You are taking the shortcut to enlightenment.
47. You bought the shortcut to enlightenment.
48. You are selling the shortcut to enlightenment.
49. You think having money means you are spiritual.
50. You think not having money means you are spiritual.
51. You use spirituality to criticize corporations, capitalism and people who earn a lot of money.
52. You use any of the following phrases to help people understand that they are projecting and therefore creating their own pain:
- “It’s perfect that this is happening”
- “This is God’s Will.”
- “Everything is Perfect.”
- “It’s all unfolding as it must.”
- “Stop living in the past.”
- “It’s your karma.”
- “It’s all an illusion including your suffering.”
- “It’s just your ego.”
- “Tell me what you’re getting out of creating this for yourself.”
53. You try to convince people that they are not victims.
54. You try to convince people of anything as a result of your spiritual practice.
55. You find yourselves very uncomfortable in the presence of other people’s pain.
56. You want to “run away from it all,” sitting in a cave to meditate until you “wake up.”
57. You think the other person in a contentious relationship is simply not evolved enough.
58. You think you need to stay in a bad relationship because you’re just projecting your own pain onto them.
59. You blame yourself for everything.
60. You blame everyone else for everything.
61. You never apologize.
62. You are afraid to confront people when they hurt you.
63. Your main form of practice is going to spiritual retreats.
64. Your main form of practice is buying telecourses and books.
65. Your main form of practice is talking about spirituality with other seekers.
66. You are seeking salvation.
67. When someone confronts you with concerns about how you are acting, you dismiss them as not understanding
68. You get angry when someone gives you negative feedback because they do not practice what you do.
69. Your partner tells you that [insert your spiritual practice] feels like “the other woman/man.”
70. You are frustrated and disappointed the other people in your life are not as spiritual as you are.
71. You insist that you can fix every personal issue with more spiritual practice (but it isn’t working).
72. You believe your spiritual practice will make you more successful and popular.
73. You are trying really hard to be something other than who you are.
74. You are dismissive of other people’s needs.
75. You are dismissive of your own needs.
76. “Need” is a dirty word.
77. You think spirituality should make you feel better.
78. You deny disillusionment on the spiritual path.
79. You think that a lack of boundaries indicates spiritual progress.
80. You never push your boundaries.
81. You’re always looking to “push your edge.”
82. You fall into premature forgiveness.
83. You think meeting everything with acceptance and compassion means avoiding negativity.
84. You favor absolute truth over relative truth.
85. You favor the impersonal over the personal.
86. You favor emptiness over form.
87. You prefer transcendence over embodiment.
88. You strive for detachment over feeling.
89. You are not skeptical—at least at first—of a teacher who claims enlightenment.
90. You dabble in spiritual practice, a little here and a little there.
91. You use teachings of non-self to reinforce your own lack of self-worth.
92. You forget to laugh at funny things, especially in spiritual contexts.
93. You are trying to win your spiritual teacher’s approval.
94. You are actively rebelling against your spiritual teacher.
95. Helping others is an obligation you fulfill for your spiritual advancement.
96. You strongly identify as “a spiritual practitioner.”
97. You do not want to admit that you are spiritual bypassing.
98. You feel guilty about spiritual bypassing.
99. You think that your spiritual practice is immune to spiritual bypassing.