Spiritual Bypassing: Here’s Why You Must Be True To Yourself

Learn when positivity becomes dangerous, and what you can do to avoid this from happening

Everyone wants to feel like they’re a success. We want to feel like we’re winning our battles and display an image to the world we’re proud of. However, there is a fine line between genuinely feeling like we’re winners and pretending that we are.

There is nothing wrong with struggling. Feeling defeated at times is a part of life. Being authentic with our painful feelings leads to acceptance, healing, and life change, but the ego has a powerful grip. The ego seeks instant gratification by flaunting an image that’s congruent with your state of mind.

This is where people slip into the trap of spiritual bypassing by masking their true emotions to appear like they’ve worked it all out. But unless this image is backed by genuine joy, it’s a facade.

Spiritual bypassing is something I want to discuss in this article because I see a lot of people who are all front and have no substance. These people tend to boast about being embodiments of love and light, yet refuse to look at the darkness within them.

When you can’t be true to who you are and what you’re going through, you’re preventing yourself from genuine growth and expansion.

Spiritual bypassing: All facade and no substance

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Spiritual bypassing is a form of escapism. It occurs when someone uses spiritual doctrines to avoid confronting their true feelings and insecurities.

People who spiritually bypass get the idea in their head that negativity is bad when in reality it’s just a part of life. Due to this aversion to negativity, they will generally look at solely the positive side of any situation to avoid acknowledging the ugliness of life in the form of:

  • Darkness
  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Dysfunction
  • Insecurity

People who spiritual bypass often have a spiritual ego – that is to assume they have transcended suffering, or no longer experience it. They want to portray an image that they are spiritually advanced, which ironically paints the picture that they have a long way to go. 

Therefore, every time something goes wrong, they smile their way through it, think happy thoughts, and tell themselves ‘It’s all for a reason’. They will force themselves to embody an image of a sage or guru, while the interior is in a state of decay.

You often see this dynamic within spiritual communities where everything is portrayed to be perfect, despite how dysfunctional it is.

Some common examples of spiritual bypassing include:

  • Saying it all happens for a reason instead of allowing yourself to be present with a painful situation
  • Spouting about love and light while being incongruous with it
  • Assuming you are more spiritually elevated than others (and playing the part)
  • Being emotionally disassociated or having difficulty expressing yourself
  • Having a lack of transparency with your true thoughts and feelings
  • Believing you only experience love and positivity, or that there is no room for negativity in your life
  • Avoiding addressing deeper insecurities, worries, and traumas because you believe you’re above it
  • Doing spiritual practice as a way to escape reality
  • Putting all focus on manifesting a great life without doing the hard yards
  • Conceiving generally a warped idea of life and the human condition
  • Avoiding shadow work and healing

There’s nothing wrong with being positive, as long as it’s genuine. The problem persists when someone uses positivity as a veneer. When you push yourself to be positive or indifferent when you’re hurting, that’s when this whole charade becomes toxic.

Taking off the mask is the only way that you can reflect, heal your wounds, and expand as a person. As long as you’re playing games with yourself, you will never genuinely reach the level of well-being you want.

Experiencing the ugly side of life isn’t part of the human condition, and it’s thoroughly woven into every aspect of it. If you don’t embrace the shadows and recognize the duality of life, you are not fully living.

Spiritual bypassing vs toxic positivity

The way I see it, spiritual bypassing is consciously avoiding unpleasant thoughts and feelings with a façade of spirituality. For example, spiritual bypassing is when you’re feeling hurt but push yourself to only think positively about the situation without addressing the wound.

Toxic positivity is framing something harmful in a positive light, or celebrating something that isn’t good for you.

If you’re morbidly obese and telling yourself that you’re beautiful just the way you are, that’s toxic positivity. Sure, it’s good to love yourself, but you’re avoiding looking at a very real health problem or taking action to resolve it.

Both spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity are coping mechanisms. By pretending everything is great to make yourself feel a little better in the short run, you’re sabotaging long-term sustainable transformation.

Rather than exploring the pain and organically healing it, you push it underwater to avoid looking at it. If you’re forcing yourself to only experience the good in life, you will become increasingly disintegrated which leads to spiritual regression, or rather spiritual stagnation.

The darkness of life exists for a reason. If you refuse to acknowledge it, it doesn’t mean it goes away. You’re avoiding the hard work, and what do you get when you do the inner work?

You get lessons. You learn, and you develop wisdom and understanding. You heal. Therefore, spiritual bypassing voids the learning and healing that accompanies shadow work, because you’re refusing to look at the shadows.

Allowing yourself to experience pain and negativity doesn’t make you any less spiritual. You’re not the Buddha, stop putting so much pressure on yourself to have it all figured out.

Why is spiritual bypassing harmful?

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Growth requires authenticity.

If you can’t be real with yourself, you won’t see your areas of improvement. If you can’t see where you can improve, you will not put in the effort to improve.

Likewise, spiritual bypassing causes you to suppress anything that doesn’t align with your image of who you should be. When you don’t acknowledge your darkness, you never give your real thoughts and feelings an audience. If you don’t look at your dysfunction, how are you supposed to heal it?

The result?


Think of it this way; If you have an infected wound, should you ignore it and hope for the best, or treat it? If you put a crown over a decaying tooth, the tooth is still decaying. Although it looks good to the outside eye, you’re not resolving the issue.

Spiritual bypassing works the same way. You may learn how to look enlightened to the outside eye, but you are the same dysfunctional mess inside. You may fool other people, you may even fool yourself, but you’re not healing because you believe you’re beyond it.

Therefore, the surface might look sparkly, but the inside is rotting. This is a golden ticket to mental illness as your well-being, over time begins to deteriorate.

Healing occurs through acknowledgment, acceptance, and authenticity. If you pretend that everything is always great, you’re preventing yourself from looking at what’s wrong with you.

Why do people wear a facade?

People wear facades because they have something to prove.

The ego is a big culprit of spiritual bypassing. As the ego is the part of you that is concerned about things like your image and status, it may coerce you to fake an image to appease itself. This is why it’s important to find a healthy balance with your ego and to keep it in check.

People who believe that everything must be positive often feel it’s not okay to be negative. They get the picture in their head that negativity is a step back in their spiritual evolution, and therefore pressure themselves into having it all together to save face.

You may be aware that you’re not being completely transparent with yourself, but you keep doing it because those temporary dopamine boosts granted through the approval of others are a more desirable alternative to the truth that you’re not winning your battles.

But it’s an oxymoron because transparency leads to real change.

You worry about being judged. You avoid confronting your shadows because they’re ugly to look at. You’ve been told by other people that thinking positively is a good thing. It engrains into your psyche that this is what success looks like.

But it just causes more problems in the end. Sooner or later, that house of cards is going to fall apart. By constantly being positive, you’re acting as a block to your self-betterment. It’s time to put a stop to spiritual bypassing by being transparent with yourself.

How to stop spiritual bypassing

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Experiencing pain isn’t a bad thing, regardless of the negative connotation. Sure, it sucks, but it’s an essential part of the human experience. From a spiritual perspective, pain exists for a reason; as a teaching mechanism.

Therefore, I believe education plays a big role in curbing spiritual bypassing. When you realize just how important authenticity is for your own growth and spiritual development, the slow path of genuine growth becomes more appealing than the short-term wins of appealing to the ego.

Spiritual bypassing is an oxymoron because we tend to act a certain way for spiritual brownie points, but people see through it. What people love to see, especially nowdays in the Instagram era, is authenticity. It’s attractive.

People actively avoid looking at their shadows because they feel inferior when they do. But we all have a shadow self. We all have things that we’re working on, and honoring the process of self-betterment is what moves the needle, not pretending we’ve won the game.

Spending your energy appeasing your ego defers responsibility. You know that looking at yourself and doing the shadow work is by no means a fun process. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.

So allow yourself to feel broken sometimes. Allow yourself to feel the pain and the hurt. Look at yourself honestly and examine your dysfunction, inspect your wounds. Allow yourself to be a three-dimensional human, and you set yourself on a much better path.

Feel the shame of not being good enough. Feel the resentment you’ve been bottling up. Be authentic with your truest emotions, and you will naturally make progress to be a better you.

Calibrate with your emotional body

Honor your feelings.

If you’re feeling something painful, whether it’s in the form of shame, guilt, resentment, or disappointment, allow yourself to sit with those feelings. Don’t brush them away or pretend to be someone you’re not, but honor the pain.

Self-expression is a crux for authenticity. Cry if you feel like it. I cry often because it feels good. If I have an opportunity to cry, I will, because it’s an emotional purge. Shout if you need to, pray to god, vent to a friend.

Get out all the nasties that have been hidden behind this wall, and express the crap out of them. Allowing yourself to be fully expressive is like clearing the emotional dam which allows energies to pass organically. You feel much better once you’re calibrated with your emotional body.

Reflect on your experiences

People who spiritually bypass don’t tend to reflect. Rather, they suppress anything that doesn’t fit into the framework of who they’re supposed to be.

If they did reflect, they would have no option but to confront their deeper feelings and insecurities. This is why you should reflect regularly on your experiences, especially if something painful is surfacing.

Besides being a great way to incorporate teachings, wisdom, and advice, reflection gives you space with yourself. This is what people who spiritually bypass need – space with themselves, to be vulnerable to themselves, to open up to themselves.

Therefore, reflect on your experiences, and do it often. This is how you cultivate a deeper understanding of who you are, and what you need to work on.

Remember the basics

Authenticity is a major staple of spiritual growth. People who are truly on this journey will recognize the duality of the human experience, and acknowledge that there is as much darkness in life as there is light.

If you are on a spiritual growth journey, you will understand just how important humility is. This is to be completely transparent with your experiences without boasting or bragging. Someone who is humble will not assume they have it all worked out, rather they will see themselves as a student, regardlgess how many others call them a master.

In my perspectve, humility is the antidote to spiritual bypassing. If you are humble, you will not feel the need to hold an image.

Ask yourself these questions

If you want to see if you’re covering up something, be honest with yourself and ask yourself the following questions. Alternatively, you can also read through this list of shadow work prompts to discover hidden issues and concerns that you may not be addressing.

  • Are you calibrated with your emotional body?
  • Are you faking your image to avoid working on your dysfunction?
  • Do you try to make yourself feel better rather than doing the shadow work and healing organically?
  • Do you believe that you should have it worked out by now?
  • Do you feel ashamed when you’re experiencing painful emotions?
  • Do you tend to act positive when you’re going through something painful?

Remember, spiritual bypassing is a trap. It doesn’t serve anyone. So drop the mask and be your true self. People will respect you for doing so, and see you as a much more genuine person.

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