• Valentina Poletti

Methods of bypassing

Spiritual bypassing can occur in many forms. It is that choice we make in each situation to focus on something external repress our internal world. This can really take any form. A very common for that I've seen in spirituality is called spiritual bypassing. It is the use of spiritual teachings to avoid our own emotions rather than feel them. For instance, we might idealize a particular guru, and discard our emotional responsibility on them. "They have superior powers" we might tell ourselves as an excuse "so they are able to do something I cannot do". Thus we justify ourselves from growing emotionally because we are not "ideal" like them. Thus they repress their internal emotions because after all they don't think they can deal with them. Another way I see bypassing in the spiritual world is via positive focus. When people focus on the positive in order to *avoid* the negative, they are bypassing. They are repressing their internal negative emotions by forcing themselves to focus on positive ones. This invalidates negative emotions. For instance this can be seen in positive mantras that invalidates how one truly feels. Although positive mantras are valid as well, when forced over negative emotions one feels, they are used to resist them. Another example of spiritual bypassing are mantras that repress or deny one needs, for instance assertions such as "all you need is you", which suppress our need for other people etcetera. These are the common ways of bypassing I've seen in spirituality, but quite frankly the 'normal' world floods with methods to bypass. Focusing on the external circumstances is one example. Most people when faced with painful emotions, rather than focusing their attention inwards where it is being called, and facing those emotions, immediately they react and focus their attention outwards, often to whatever object or situation in the external world triggered those emotions. This is a reptilian kind of response that is devoid of consciousness: it is a reactivity mode rather than a response. Instead of connecting with our higher self to integrate the internal aspects of ourselves that need our love and attention, we deny them and remain unconscoius. That is why often these reactions happen in a way that is hard to control, they come in fact from the reptilian and less conscoius part of our brain. We then attack whatever external event reflected those negative emotions in us, and try to change it by attacking it or fixing it. Another common way people use bypassing in the world is via distractions. By focusing their attention on something external that is pleasant when they don't feel good internally, which may be food, television, internet, activities, they draw away their attention from their internal world and the negative emotions that are calling their attention, and suppress them by forcing themselves to focus on the external world. As any kind of bypassing, this requires effort as it is an act of resistance rather than allowing. That's why bypassing can only have temporary effect. We can metaphorically visualize this as trying to hold on something that wants to fall. It requires effort and work, and soon our muscle tire, and we have to change activity. That is why people who bypass this way, need to keep switching from one activity to the next, need to keep hunting for the next thing to make them feel good, because ultimately the effect is only temporary and never lasts. Another way people bypass is by avoiding things. By avoiding people, circumstances, objects that make them feel uncomfortable emotions. Those things trigger emotions in us that are unresolved, i.e. negative emotions. Rather than giving full attention to those emotions inside us to heal them, we try to avoid and suppress them by avoiding the triggers of those emotions. We thus create a constrained life where we avoid certain people, situations chronically in order never to face those emotions. Don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting here that bypassing is a negative thing per se. I think it can be quite useful. When we are overwhelmed by pain it can sometimes be too much to be able to face it all at once, and so we might take little 'breaks' in between facing it by bypassing. The goal here is to take a break to get back our energy, so that then we can go back to face our pain with more strength. That's not what I'm talking about here. This would be a productive use of bypassing, i.e. to actually face our emotions. I'm talking about the chronic avoidance. I'm talking about using bypassing only, without every going back to those emotions to face them. I'm talking about trying to forever escape ones own emotions.

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