Spiritual Regression: Is It Possible To Revert Spiritual Growth?

Feel like you're moving backwards in your spiritual journey? Let's look at what this means, and what you can do about it

Embarking on a spiritual journey is a deeply transformative experience, but it’s certainly not void of challenges. There will be times when you feel like everything you’ve done was for nothing. Suddenly you’re back to square one, and this can be an extremely frustrating and hopeless feeling.

Let me make something clear. Just because you feel like you’re regressing along your spiritual journey doesn’t mean you’re regressing.

The spiritual path is an individual journey as not a soul has walked the exact same path as you are walking. You will get lost sometimes because you’re clearing the path with a machete. If spiritual growth was a linear road we would all be enlightened by now.

Self-discovery is a maze into the endless labyrinth of consciousness. At times, the path may seem well-lit which fills you with a sense of progress. However, sooner or later, you will hit a dead end. It’s only natural.

You will feel like you’re regressing along your spiritual journey when you’re just mapping out the maze. Let’s explore these feelings of spiritual regression to discover what they’re trying to teach you, and how you can leverage them for your self-betterment.

Is it possible to spiritually regress?

Ego death

Spiritual regression is a perceived decline in your spiritual development. It occurs when you feel disconnected from your soul nature or higher purpose.

While I was traveling the world, life was great. I had so many great experiences, meeting interesting people, and reaching new levels of well-being with my spiritual practices. But eventually, the time came to go back home.

Initially, everything was great.

It was nice seeing my family and friends again, but that spark was short-lived and it wasn’t long until I felt like I was back at square one. I had no money, no car, and I was living with my mum. Being a thirty-year-old man back in a past situation, my mind followed suit.

That feeling of helplessness crept back in. I was getting triggered by things after I thought I had transcended these frustrations, and I once again felt like a dependent child.

My humanness was coming out in full force and I felt I was regressing into old patterns, but how? I had made so much progress in every dimension of my life, how could I once again be back in the same shoes?

I felt ashamed and deflated, but then I saw that the universe was testing me.

It’s easy to be zen when you’re in a zen situation, but the real challenge arises when you’re thrown into a past situation and need to apply your wisdom.

I decided to bring consciousness to every setback and to use those challenges as opportunities. With awareness, these stubborn feelings of spiritual regression can be a trampoline for genuine growth, but you must leverage the situation.

Think of spiritual regression as reverting into old patterns that you thought you had overcome. You feel like you’re stepping backward with your evolution because life is getting harder, not easier.

With that said, feelings of spiritual regression serve an important purpose along your journey. First off, they’re important reminders to stay humble. Setbacks can lead to valuable lessons, and periods of spiritual regression can offer insights for realignment with your authentic self.

Furthermore, feelings of spiritual regression facilitate shadow work. This is the internal phase of going inward and clearing out junk that no longer serves you. If we were all on a linear path, we would never do the inner work.

But spiritual growth isn’t a linear path, it’s a wave that goes up and down, consistently.

    When everything is going well, life seems cruisy. You’re on track, you know where you’re going, and you feel good about it. But your life situation can spontaneously change, and this is when the universe tests you to see if your spiritual growth is dependent on your life situation or not.

    What to expect during periods of spiritual regression

    Spiritual growth is a journey with peaks and valleys. You can rest on a peak for a while, but if you’re looking to move forward, you’ll need to traverse the landscape.

    It’s not uncommon to have moments when it seems like you’re taking steps backward rather than forward. These feelings of regression can be disheartening as they cast shadows on the progress you’ve made, but they’re temporary, as long as you work through it.

    It’s essential to recognize that these feelings of spiritual regression are not signs of failure or stagnation. Instead, they indicate a natural phase of growth. Just as a plant may appear dormant before sprouting new leaves, your spiritual journey may temporarily slow down to allow for deeper rooting and stabilization.

    Some common signs that you’re experiencing a period of spiritual regression include:

    • Reverting to old patterns: You may start experiencing attitudes, behaviors, mindsets, and traumas you thought you had overcome.
    • Doubting yourself: A spiritual regression can be disheartening as you feel that all the progress you worked so hard for was for nothing. Because of that, self-doubt can creep in as you question the authenticity of your spiritual experiences. You may feel uncertain about the path you’ve chosen, or question its validity.
    • Questioning your beliefs: Your practices may slip out the window, and you find yourself going back into old habits. Due to these feelings, it’s natural to feel disillusioned as you’re not sure where you stand anymore. You may begin questioning the validity of your belief systems.
    • Feeling discouraged: The feeling that you have made no progress (or very little) can lead to a lack of motivation, or the desire to give up. It can be difficult to maintain the same level of enthusiasm or commitment that you had before.
    • Comparing yourself to others: You might start comparing your progress to other people. Everyone else seems to have it worked all out which can lead to feelings of inadequacy. These feelings of inadequacy can create a negative spiral where you self-criticize and think there’s something wrong with you.

    Understanding the spiritual growth cycle

    In the pursuit of spiritual growth, you need to recognize that your journey is not a linear progression. Just as nature undergoes cycles of change, your spiritual development has different phases, each with its unique challenges and opportunities.

    You will have highs where you reach new levels of your spiritual development, and then you will cycle back down into a growth phase. The growth phases can be challenging, but they are necessary because that’s where many important lessons and insights are discovered.

    Learning from a growth phase allows you to further expand. Moving through a growth cycle leads to a deeper sense of self, a stronger alignment with your purpose, and more faith than you had before.

    The spiritual growth cycle involves three distinct phases:

    1. Expansion and clarity: In the initial phases of your journey, you may experience a sense of expansion. Everything feels fresh, you’re learning new things and gaining wisdom. Your spiritual path appears well-illuminated. During this time you’re eager to learn, grow, and embrace new experiences. Throughout your spiritual journey, you will come back to moments of clarity, and feel motivated to continue along your path, because it’s fulfilling.

    2. Plateaus and hills: After the initial enthusiasm, progress slows down and you will encounter challenges. This is where feelings of spiritual regression often surface. These moments are not indicators of failure but rather invitations for genuine growth. You may revisit similar challenges multiple times, each time from a higher level of awareness.

    3. Integration and transformation: As you persist through challenges and plateaus, you enter a phase of integration and transformation. Insights gained during challenging times become part of your wisdom. Your understanding deepens, and you experience profound transformation. This period occurs after you do the inner work during a spiritual regression, and tweak your path moving forward, and often leads back to the initial feelings of expansion and clarity.

    How to make progress with your spiritual journey

    The spiritual landscape - peaks and troughs

    The first step to overcoming feelings of spiritual regression is to acknowledge your feelings. Understanding that these heavy feelings are a natural phase of your spiritual journey smooths the process of transformation.

    Engage in deep self-reflection to identify the attitudes, actions, and behaviors that might contribute to your feelings of spiritual regression. Are there certain patterns of belief, thought, or attitudes that need readjustment? 

    What triggered these feelings? What is bubbling up to the surface that hasn’t yet been fully resolved?

    It’s important not to be too hard on yourself. As spiritual regression is a natural part of the process of spiritual awakening and transformation, acknowledge that these stubborn patterns are coming up for a reason, because they haven’t fully been resolved.

    View spiritual regression as a time of shedding old programs. You’re revisiting the past to heal aspects of it. Therefore, use this time as an opportunity to reevaluate your values.

    Are you following the path of your deepest fulfillment? Do you need to pivot the direction you’re moving in?

    Ask yourself, are your intentions aligned with your deeper purpose? Adjust them as needed to ensure they resonate with your deeper purpose, and avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.

    Be consistent with your spiritual practices. The discipline of regular practice can provide stability and give you something to work towards, even when you’re feeling discouraged.

    Be willing to adapt your practices as needed, but make sure you keep doing them. Experiment with new approaches and techniques that might better serve your current stage of growth.

    Ultimately, remember that your feelings of spiritual regression are just a phase of your growth. You are always progressing, as long as you choose to continue walking your path towards understanding and self-betterment.

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