January 23, 2021

Positivity or Insensitivity? 7 Signs of Spiritual Bypassing (& 7 Ways to Deal with It).

“We have to get out of this fast-food mentality.” ~ Waylon Lewis


One of the highest forms of compassion is being able to empathize with other people’s emotions.

We know this because a lot of us, at one point in our lives, were not able to do that.

Recently, I came across an article bemoaning the fact that negativity and trauma are present in everything we see these days. The author cited a theory put forth by Sigmund Freud 100 years ago—the “Death Drive” as the likely source.

This theory, which was gleaned from Arthur Schopenhauer 10 years earlier, in its simplest form, stated that we have a life force and a death force within us, and people with early trauma tend to want to stay stuck in that trauma—or death force, as it were.

Ironically, Freud went on to correct this theory in 1930 when he wrote, “The inclination to aggression is an original, self-subsisting instinctual disposition in man.”

What he was explaining was that our tendency toward negativity is biological. It has been instilled in us as a survival mechanism. In its simplest form, think of early man—the one who obsessively kept his eyes open for danger was obviously going to live a lot longer than the one who only thought about how nice the flowers smelled.

So when we make proclamations that we are only going to focus on the positive and we are only going to use positive words and think positive thoughts, we are, in essence, spiritually bypassing reality.

Here are seven signs of spiritual bypassing:

1. Spirituality used as defense mechanism

2. Only positivity

3. Self-deception

4. Unattainable spiritual goals

5. Always being extremely nice and poised, avoiding anger

6. The illusion of being in control

7. Believing that all kind of judgment is bad

The challenge here is that, try as we might, we cannot make things better in our world or for the people we love by closing our eyes and wishing for happier things. “What is” needs to be confronted.

This can be accomplished in many ways. Here are seven suggestions:

1. Embrace our dark side and acknowledging it is there.

2. Let ourselves grieve.

3. Acknowledge and feel sadness, cry, and understand that despair is part of our human self—be vulnerable.

4. Understand that there is no division and no separation within the human self.

5. Judgment is not bad—prejudice is.

6. Anger is a healthy reaction, sometimes, and it can be used. Depression, anxiety, trauma, and narcissism are not trendy words. We have all been there, one way or another, and we all need to heal.

7. Self-righteousness is not real—discernment is.

We might not have heard the term “spiritual bypassing” before or have been aware of what we were going through at the time. We might have put on an ice-cold shield as a coping mechanism, thinking we’d be in control or protect ourselves from pain.

One of those coping mechanisms could be something as simple as sarcasm and humor, another could be more hurtful, as it could involve dismissing other people’s feelings, claiming that others are negative, weak, gloomy, depressive, attention-seekers.

We think that by being total b*tches and assholes, we’d look and feel stronger and immune, when, in fact, we would be at our weakest.

Unfortunately, only after being broken to pieces, after experiencing loss ourselves, after suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma, our eyes open and consequently our hearts.


For more from Rita & Billy:

Rita’s author’s page
Billy’s author’s page



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Rita Wehbe & Billy Manas

author: Rita Wehbe & Billy Manas

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