Spiritual bypass is
a way of moving past uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and emotions by
justifying the events that have occurred thus far, via your favorite beliefs
about reality. For some this may mean saying, “It’s okay—it was all part of God’s
plan.” For others, “All outcomes are perfect.” A few more: “Everything is for
the highest good.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “Everything is for our
growth.” “I can’t be mad about this situation, because I’ve learned from it.” “Everyone
is innocent, and deserving of forgiveness.”
These statements aren’t necessarily wrong. In fact, I’m a fan of All outcomes are perfect and Everything is for our growth.
However, being aware of how I ultimately benefitted from a certain situation doesn’t necessarily remove my negative emotions about it. While it’s great to recognize what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown, and to know that I can grow from anything, that just isn’t enough to release the anger, the pain, and the attachment.
The key here is to accept the WHOLE situation. Don’t just see the perfection in the events that occurred. You also have to acknowledge your feelings, whatever they may be. If you are boiling with rage, then be with that rage. Don’t fight with it or tell it to shut up. If you’re sad, be sad. If you don’t feel prepared to forgive someone, then don’t do it.
Even if you acknowledge how you’ve grown from a difficult situation, and you know that all outcomes ultimately are perfect, the pain of that situation doesn’t necessarily go away. You have to be with that pain, and let it be what it is.
Be with the pain, and express it. There’s nothing wrong with being angry per se—it’s fighting with and trying to hide that anger that makes it problematic. For me, our societal idea that being angry is wrong makes me even angrier, because I will be angry if I want to, damn it.
I don’t want to dwell on gender differences, but this is more challenging for women than men. An angry dude is just an angry dude. An angry woman is menopausal or PMS’ing or an ungrateful, out-of-line b*tch. Interestingly, the opposite goes for sadness. A woman who cries is just upset or emotional, but a man who cries needs to get his f’ing act together.
When you finally choose to be with the feeling, whatever it is, you’ll start to feel it dissipate after a while. You’ll even reach a point where you feel like you no longer have a capacity to feel it. However, don’t be too quick to put the feelings back into Pandora’s box and say, Okay, that’s done—let’s go back to normal life now (meanwhile, you’re nervous and ready to seethe with anger again at any moment)! Don’t write it off and pretend that it’s done. Just be with it- whatever form it wants to take- until it has naturally taken its course.
Of course, there is nothing you truly have to do. You don’t have to feel your feelings. But what I see happening in my own psyche is, Even if I don’t have to be with this, I want to. I want to let myself be angry. I want to acknowledge who I really am and not pretend like everything was fine and roses when it wasn’t.
There is a reason for feeling feelings beyond its own sake. You have chosen your feelings. It may be hard to see how, but all of your feelings are chosen. You could just as well choose any feeling other than the one you are choosing right now.
However, there is a reason you’ve chosen the feeling that you have—even if you’ve only done so subconsciously (or superconsciously). You’re trying to express a certain message not only through yourself, but also to yourself. There is something that you want to tell yourself, and feelings are a profound way of delivering that message—largely because they are so powerful and hard to ignore.
When I’m angry, for example, I’m trying to make the point to myself that I feel powerless here. That’s when I feel anger—when my power is creating precisely the opposite of what I want. The anger is good, because it reminds me that what I desire is important to me, and I am not prepared to pretend that it isn’t. Anger says loudly and clearly, Something is wrong here! Please do something about it or leave. A healthy relationship with anger can keep me self-aware, out of denial, and on-track to what I really want.
What’s incredibly unhealthy, on the other hand, is suppressing that anger. What you must realize is that suppressing your feelings makes them more painful. Please highlight, underscore, and draw stars around that sentence. Anger that is fully accepted and that gets its message heard can pass fairly quickly, and do no damage along the way. It’s only when you suppress anger that stomach acid starts to burn holes through the lining of your digestive system and create ulcers and destroy you from the inside.
Stop beating yourself up for your apparent mistakes and shortcomings. You’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary negative emotions that way. Be clear that you would like to change, and understand that punching yourself in the face is not going to help you do that. Beating yourself up is just another form of suppressing yourself. I would know, because all of the hair that I banished from my head over the course of 4+ years didn’t do a damned thing for me—except waste time, which I could have spent actually doing something constructive, instead of beating myself up.
Remember this: perhaps in the grand scheme of things what you’ve experienced isn’t that bad, but that doesn’t matter. You can’t compare your experience to that of others—otherwise you’ll condemn yourself your whole life for everything you do and fail to do. On top of that, you’ll just keep on telling yourself that you shouldn’t be angry, because those people never got angry when that thing happened to them…
Yeah, right, sister—as if you know.
Honesty in Relationships
An area of life where I frequently succumb to spiritual bypass is relationships. In particular, I do a lot of blaming myself, justifying others’ behaviors, and generally trying not to let things bother me. Of course, trying not to let things bother me means that they really fricken do.
There is an important note to be made about forgiveness. I actually am not a fan of forgiveness. I don’t care for apologies, either.
To forgive someone is to say, “You did something wrong, but I’m not going to hold it over your head.” It’s moving in a positive direction, perhaps, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. It’s sort of a cop-out. It’s too easy to say, “I forgive you,” and then go into a state of suppression and denial, which includes pretending that the thing never happened. Indeed, forgiveness is a great form of spiritual bypass.
Here’s the thing. The god of my understanding has no capacity for forgiveness. It’s not that God is an as%h*le, however. Rather, God goes beyond mere forgiveness. This is because no wrong can be done by God. God has no need for forgiveness, because he exists outside of the paradigm of right and wrong. Instead, God simply observes and works to make your dominant thoughts reality—no matter what they are (this includes the dominant thoughts of collective consciousness; ultimately, though, collective consciousness is really just your own). God never judges, and she always says, Yes. This is the epitome of unconditional love.
When it comes to the behavior of another, you can simply observe. Don’t write it off so quickly with forgiveness. If you don’t like what you observe, be clear with yourself about that. Either bring this up with the other person and attempt to work it out, or opt-out of the situation and remove yourself. Since you are not the other person’s god, you are not obliged to say yes to them. You need only say yes to yourself. Say yes to your gut feeling and your higher intelligence. Say yes to what you know to be the truth about this situation. Say yes to acting consciously.
If you really want to forgive another person, it only makes sense to do that when you can put yourself in a more desirable situation first. It’s ridiculous to forgive someone when you’re still under their boot, and the boot will remain on your face regardless of whether you forgive. Forgiveness might as well be denial.
Instead of forgiving, just be real and keep abreast of ultimate reality. If another person’s actions have bothered you, then tell them that. At the same time, you can tell them how you have grown through this situation, if at all. When you do this, it does not mean that you have to give up your anger or continue tolerating the person. You can simply share your truth with another person and then be done with them. This is a respectful way of ending a relationship: share all truths, and then simply be done.
You give by telling the truth. What could be more respectful than sharing all relevant truths with another person? What could be more loving than enlightening another person in some fashion? Don’t forgive me, man—tell me the truth.
It’s all the same with apologizing. An apology, like forgiveness, is a half-truth. Instead of I’m sorry, this is what I would prefer to hear: I know you did not want me to do that, but I did it anyway. Here is why I did it: (tell me why you did it, according to what is true for you). You are allowed to be angry at me if you want; but, admittedly, I am afraid of having your anger directed towards me.
What on Earth does I’m sorry mean, anyway? What does your being sorrowful do for me? I don’t want you to be sorry. I don’t want you to feel bad. Not only that, but I don’t want you to be under the illusion that your feeling bad will lead me to justify your behavior, because it won’t.
Don’t tell me you’re sorry: I just want you to acknowledge what you did. Tell me what it is you did that you think I take issue with. Please—entertain me. As long as it isn’t utter B.S., I would love to hear why you did it, too: at the very least it will pique my curiosity. I would also like you to listen to my honest feedback on the matter, which includes the unfettered yet non-destructive expression of anger. Finally, we can work something out. We can agree to not relate to each other in a certain way anymore, for instance, or you can tell me that you aren’t going to do what you did again—if you can say that honestly. If we can’t reach an agreement, then we can agree to either wait it out (until there is further clarity) or to be done.
Whatever the case, an honest conversation like this is far preferable to hearing I’m sorry. Don’t give me that, man. Don’t even give me that.
Whenever I apologize, I do it because I’m scared and I’m trying to appease a person who is angry with me. And you know what else? It never works. I have actually watched my relationships worsen after I apologize to someone. In fact, the last several times I apologized to someone, my relationship with them totally collapsed. I have good reason to regard apologies as worse than useless.
An apology is like a speed bump—it just jolts the car around, unnecessarily (seriously, why do those things exist?). The car loses its momentum and the driver gets annoyed. And no one is helped at all by this event. It’s just a blockage and a nuisance.
I can see now that I would have been better off clearly stating to the other person the wrong I did by them, instead of sweeping it under the rug of an apology. Maybe things could have taken a more graceful course. Not only that, but I can’t write this off with an oh well, because that would be spiritual bypass, and to use spiritual bypass would be to contradict the entirety of this article. So instead I will have to admit that this idea brings me discomfort. I’ll just leave it at that for now.
Communication and Attachment
The overall point is that forgiveness and apologizing don’t lend themselves to clear and complete communication. Contrarily, where clear and complete communication does occur, there is no room nor need for spiritual bypass—AND, best of all, unhealthy attachments cannot form.
Please, once again, highlight, underscore, and star that sentence. You absolutely cannot be “hopelessly in love” with someone who you communicate deliberately with. Unhealthy attachments to other people only form where communication is lacking in truth and is incomplete.
On the other hand, if I tell you all of the important truths about me, you, and our relationship that I desire to tell you, there is no room for unhealthy attachment. Even if I am wildly attracted to you, my feelings will be healthy and non-destructive if we communicate well with one another. If you end up rejecting me, and you do so respectfully (meaning you disclose all important truths), my attraction to you won’t immediately dissipate; however, the feelings I retain for you won’t hold me back or hurt either of us. This is because those feelings won’t be clingy or chase-y. They won’t need to be, because you and I are on clear terms: as such, there is no room for doubt about how you feel about me. This means I won’t have to live in a state of futile hopelessness. Even more importantly, you have given me truth, and that’s ultimately all I could want from you.
Think about it. Think about how pleasurable it is to hear unadulterated truth from another person—especially someone who you care about. It can be uncomfortable, but there is also a part of you that says, Ah, yes… Freedom!, every time you meet with the truth. It can suck to hear the truth, but at the same time it feels great. A new door is opening, and an old one is potentially closing. It’s time to enter a new level of existence and see a new side of reality. How exciting!
Seriously, if someone I’m attracted to can honestly tell me how they feel, that really is all I want from them. Sure, it’d be great to connect with them in some of the super fun ways that humans do (like removing clothing together), but I just want the truth. And I know it is reasonable to ask for the truth. I’m not asking you to do a nakey-dance with me (well, unless I am). I just want the truth.
On the other hand, being in the dark about someone’s feelings about you can be incredibly frustrating, confusing, anxiety-inducing, and mindlessly addicting. If someone will not honestly tell you how they feel about you, even after you have told them how you feel about them and you have asked what their take on it is, you’re better off saving yourself lots of tears and just opting out of the situation. Know that honesty exists out there, if only you yourself can be truthful first. And being truthful includes acknowledging when a relationship is not working, such as when another person chronically withholds truth from you.
Denial is NEVER constructive. Never, EVER. Denial is an outright rejection of truth. When you are out of alignment with truth, things don’t work. They can’t, because to be unaligned with truth is to be out of touch with reality, and you have to be in touch with reality if you want things to work.
This is not to say what reality is, per se. Because you can experience your own consciousness only, you can only know reality through your own intelligence. It is up to you to do the deep exploring and understanding of reality. And what you know that reality to be, in any given moment, you must see with open eyes and live your life in honor of it.
Remember that what you’re really after here is ultimate reality—not just apparent reality, or even worse, distorted reality. You want to know reality at the highest level of your being.
When you look in the river and see that it’s polluted, you have to acknowledge that it’s polluted. You have to acknowledge that you’re angry that it’s polluted. You also have to acknowledge that you are 100% responsible for everything you experience: this means that not only are you choosing to be angry, but you also are capable of doing something about the polluted river. Finally, you have to remember that all things are perfect, and that includes the pollution of this river. The pollution of this river is but another opportunity to experience and express who you really are. Ultimately, it can help you to become more conscious and to grow, and in the long run it can change our world and our collective consciousness for the better. Indeed, everything is for our growth, if we simply see the opportunity that lies in everything.
To see all of this, to accept all of it, and to be at peace with it, is to live in ultimate reality. When you see ultimate reality, you will experience peace—even if you are also experiencing that anger. Indeed, you can let anger flow through your being and still experience peace, as long as you are doing so consciously.
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