November 20, 2019

Spiritual Gaslighting: the Unhealthy, Inauthentic practice of “High-Vibe” Culture.

“No bad vibes.”

That’s what they said.

“Raise your vibration and attract everything you desire.”

“Just manifest it.”

The problem with this is it shames those who are not feeling this way, or who are unable to do this. It causes people who are struggling to think it’s their fault.

No bad vibes,” means that it’s not okay if you have been the victim and are in a healing process, or if you are simply having a bad day, moment, or month. And, it completely gaslights those who deal with chronic physical or mental conditions.

We can understand that in order to have a better experience of life, we can shift our perspective to see more positive characteristics in the experience we are having. This can be a useful tool and highly effective.

However, if what is occurring (or occurred) is in fact not okay, it’s harmful to slap a smile on it or attempt to “vibrate higher” with forced practices to override what is actually not fine.

This act is spiritual bypassing. It is used when people are afraid to hold space for what feels challenging. It is equivalent to turning away from our pain or using things to numb it out. Often, other people don’t know how to sit with difficulty, to hold someone when they are crying, or to say, “Yes, that’s really horrible and I’m sorry. I’m here for you.” So they immediately try to change it.

I hear it amidst spiritual and self-help circles—that if we aren’t getting what we want or having an experience that feels good, it must be our fault. We aren’t trying hard enough or doing the exact practice that would draw our desired outcome to us.

Here’s the thing: We don’t always know what’s best for each other. To tell someone to feel better or shift their vibration isn’t always great advice.

Sometimes, struggle is the reality of life. We need to ground our healing, to work in the present with authenticity. Otherwise, we’re not accounting for our wholeness, our being human. It fragments us instead. When we choose to look away from the harder experiences, we shut down parts of ourselves, the parts of ourselves that are having these bigger feelings.

Rather than turning away from those who are in a harder space (including ourselves) and telling them the equivalent of “buckle up your bootstraps,” we can bring understanding and compassion to what is hard. In the arena of self-growth, let’s not reinstate harmful beliefs from shame-based structures of the past. They didn’t work then, and they won’t work well now.

Manifesting is not about being perfectly aligned. No one is that. I’ve met many teachers and practitioners who are all very human. They have their challenges and moments of falling off the path—and of just plain hardship.

Abraham Hicks (love their work, btw) might say, shift into a higher vibration, rather than suffering in what we are experiencing. But, we need to first acknowledge the pain or fear or sadness or loss, and not bypass it. We need to tend to it with the time it takes to care and recover, in that we share love and positive feelings with what is hard. It softens and we heal our trauma. We grow from it. We recommit to our journey and set new goals and desires when we are ready. Not before.

Here’s the gold: We can’t shift something we are still resisting.

A favourite thing I heard on a retreat with a Buddhist teacher was, “The way out is in.” We had been sitting in meditation for a few days and were getting antsy. Many of us wanted to run from the places that felt uncomfortable. However, if we did not learn to stay with what was challenging in us, we would continually abandon ourselves (leading to more suffering).

When we are working with manifestation (drawing what we desire to us), we must not abandon our truth, or self, in the process. Manifestation is not magic; it’s transforming and healing from the inside out. It’s dedicating our self to growth and committing to a path that leads to this.

Forcing is not manifesting—patience, love, and dedication are.

We don’t need to muscle ourselves into being in a different place than we are. We don’t need to blame ourselves for the hard things.

There are certain occurrences in life that will be unavoidable because we are human. Illness, hardship, and ups and downs will touch all of us—they are meant to. And, even after all of that, we can commit again to living a good life. As we do this, we draw other good people, experiences, and work to us.

Before we try to change our experience, we must learn to be real with it. In being authentic, we become vulnerable (in a good way) and open to true transformation. “All vibes welcome” is something I like to embrace. We can’t get out of being human, but we can learn to have more ease with the ebbs and flows of it.

Manifesting is closer to this—the ability to be knocked off less from our dedication to what we know to be true. It’s not fighting ourselves for having a real life, but making friends with the journey as it flows.

By all means, practice daily manifesting (I do), just leave space to be with what is currently your truth, too.

Forcing is not manifesting—patience, love, and dedication are.

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