Recently I have learned a new concept called Spiritual bypass.
Definition: A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing
is a "tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices
to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional
issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished
To me this means using something as a reason to avoid another something.
I think that avoidance tactics are one of those things that we tend to turn to in order to avoid something painful about ourselves that we don’t want to face. Maybe that is why it is so easy for us humans to come up with excuses and rationalizations.
One of the deciding factors in my healing journey was facing my propensity for saying “yes but”. I would face something that I knew I needed to change about my thinking patterns or my behaviour patterns and then I would list all the reasons for not changing.
Once I was aware that I was doing it I started to see it in others around me as well. The most common turned to BUT is “but it is so hard”. Of course change is hard I want to shout, that is why it is called change. Naturally this rationalization itself is not so simple.
Difficult is the word that we turn to as a simple explanation for the fear that we fear will be revealed in the process of change.
For example; without change we can blame our circumstances, other people, the actions of other people, the inactions of other people, our history and essentially all the many details that go into bringing us to this point in time with this problem that can only be resolved through change.
However, when we do change we will have taken on responsibility for ourselves. Then if we don’t like the outcome we have no one to blame but ourselves. It is no longer about the others it is about us. That is a huge amount of accountability to take on. It makes us vulnerable while at the same time making us authentic. This is a scary place to be.
So just as in Spiritual bypass I think we need to become aware of bypassing the changes we need to make, the avoidances that we allow to continue become a sort of “life bypass”, where we are using engagement in our life stories to bypass the changes of healing.
Under this kind of avoidance we can look at things like this:
- Where there is a propensity to focus on the mistakes of others there is the need to protect or preserve the ego from facing our own wrongful actions. Is this where the refusal to apologize for comes from? When only others do wrong, that means we do only right ergo, no need to apologize.
- What about the situation where one deflects away from a criticism by introducing a lining up of faults in the other person. In this case there is an avoidance of having to take ownership for the wrongdoing that we committed that leads to a domino effect of other actions. If we get far enough down the line of dominoes maybe everyone will forget the hurtful action that precipitated the cascade event in the first place.
- What about when an error is pointed out, or an action is exposed as having caused harm and the first response to this is the casting of a judgement upon the person calling attention to the fault? In this case judging is used as an avoidance tactic for not having to take ownership of the error or harm causing action.
In all of these instances (and I am sure there are more of them that abound in our relationships) there is a bypassing happening. There is this assumption that if we can deflect away from introspection we can just live life without having to face the difficulty of accountability.
I am sure some of us bypass introspection more than others. Possibly also there might be some times in our lives when we do more bypassing than at others. Maybe difficult times in our lives bring out a greater desire to bypass?
In observing people I have noticed people tend to bypass when an event makes them see something in themselves that they don’t want to see, or when on some level they understand that they need to face something that they don’t want to face.
However I have also noticed that some people make a habit of bypassing. I call this the “nothing is ever my fault syndrome” there is always someone or something or some event to blame.
I think that what I have become aware of is that there are two kinds of bypassing.
- In the first there is only harm to the self, in that avoiding deflects and side tracks personal emotional healing.
- In the second there is the causing of harm to others because bypassing allows actions and inappropriate behaviours by the activation of a supply of plausible excuses or rationalizations.
Harming others through bypassing behaviour is something that I see quite often. One very common use is name calling and put downs in response to anything that seems to harm their ego. This is often seen in bullying behaviours. When I have questioned such actions, I have received comments like; “this is my coping technique for dealing with my pain”.
This leaves me to ponder;
- Do people really believe that they can bypass their wrong doings and their hurtful actions by blaming that “their past made them do it?”
- Do they really feel that they have the right to be mean because it is the “protective response to past injuries”
- Do they feel entitled to bypass their own healing while at the same time expecting others to make allowances for them because they carry emotional wounds?
Considering that almost every human carries woundedness from their past this does not seem to be an especially appropriate kind of behaviour. Because we were harmed or hurt in some way by our past does not give one licence to behave hurtfully in the present. This is especially the case in our present day awareness that we; if we really wanted to, can change our ways by learning to deal with and heal our emotional wounds.
It is at times like this where my reflections on life leave me in a quandary. On the one hand I can see the results of such behaviours; I can see the hurting on both sides. I can see the hurting of all the people who are all really trying to find relief from the pain of life. I can even understand the motivation to protect by deflecting outward. What I can’t understand is the kind of character that a person must have to live at peace with themselves knowing that they are hurting others to assuage their own pain.
Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 11 – 11
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