This article was inspired by What Is Spiritual Bypassing? Spiritual bypassing occurs when our spirituality manifests itself only externally and towards others while preventing internal, personal, and authentic growth —…

Spiritual Bypassing — Understanding Its Various Stages

Spiritual Bypassing — Understanding Its Various Stages

This article was inspired by What Is Spiritual Bypassing?

Spiritual bypassing occurs when our spirituality manifests itself only externally and towards others while preventing internal, personal, and authentic growth — such as unconditional love and tolerance for others, but lacking in personal relations and dimensions.

What is Spiritual Bypassing?

Spiritual bypassing is the tendency to prematurely jump to the spiritual side. Coined by John Welwood (author), spiritual bypassing often occurs when people try to avoid directly dealing with various earthly realities of the self (unresolved emotions, memories, and personal and life challenges).

Symptoms of Spiritual Bypassing

Primary symptoms of a spiritual bypassing include:

  • Using spiritual beliefs and practices to avoid dealing with unresolved wounds and painful feelings
  • Showcasing premature forgiveness
  • Wishful thinking
  • Ungrounded behaviors
  • Experiencing a radical detachment from one’s self-identifications
  • Emotional repression and numbing
  • Blind tolerance and compassion
  • Overdone niceness towards others instead of developed emotional depth and authenticity
  • Overemphasis on the positive
  • Manifestation of anger-phobia where anger is confused with aggression and ill-will

As a consequence, the person going through the bypassing often works towards building their spirituality from the outside to inside instead of the other way around.

Hence, they try to manifest the expected effects of developing their spiritual side such as compassion, tolerance, love, respect for others etc.

This only prevents us from introspection and self-reflection necessary for becoming truly self-aware and paving the way for our journey into ourselves — for facing ourselves and for accepting ourselves, without judgment and with compassion. Hence, allowing true transformation to occur from within.

Why Are So Many of Us Experiencing Spiritual Bypassing?

The world we have created terrifies us.

The modern project of unearthing the limitless potential of self determination, and self-realization and growth has created social structures that are extremely constricting.

We have slowly accepted the dark realities of our efforts to develop the world.

We have come to realize the impact of our continued drive for progress and development has had on our world, and on the generations to come.

However, most of us are not able to affect the social structures that we were born in. Consequently, many people often resort to develop spirituality prematurely.

Hence, many people have come to realize a shallow spiritual side to their selves, which, if left untended can have grave consequences for self-development and growth.

You see, as humans, our pain and feelings of discomfort in the face of reality hold many gifts and lessons for us.

It is true that only in the process of facing these emotions and tending those wounds is the point where real personal transformation occurs. Repeatedly engaging in those emotions, apportioning blame to one’s self, and remaining in a state of victimhood is only devastating for personal growth.

However, if on the other hand, you decide to fully embrace these emotions, allowing the associated pain to surface to its fullest without any judgment (being mindful of your thoughts and emotions), it grants a deeper awareness of ourselves, releasing us from its chains, and hence allowing us to learn efficiently from those experiences.

How to Avoid Spiritual Bypassing

Spiritual bypassing occurs when we decide to take a detour from all these emotions and pain, and try to simply pursue outward compassion, tolerance, and unconditional love and failing to authentically be self-compassionate and forgiving to ourselves.

However, we can avoid it with ease:

  1. Learning and taking informed action — Gaining knowledge about spiritual development is important, and though workshops, books, mind gyms (meditation classes, etc.), and other seminars are important tools. All of them offer abstract control over yourself unless you practice them consistently across your daily life. Limiting the learning and practice to the few hours simply intellectualizes the information and offers no empowerment for overcoming bypassing.
  2. Seek a mentor or coach — Seeking guidance from a mentor or a professional (life coach, therapist, etc.) in no way reflects badly about yourself. There are things you cannot always do or achieve alone, and spiritual/self-development and growth is one of those dimensions in life.
  3. Be Mindful — It is crucial that you allow your emotions, traumas, pain, and wounds to surface healthily: with love and compassion to yourself. Not suppressing thoughts and emotions is only possible when you let go of your fear and judgment, allowing your mind to sit back and relax, as thoughts and emotions surface and go through your mind.

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This article was inspired by What Is Spiritual Bypassing?, which was written by Aletheia Luna. She is the co-founder, editor and author of popular spiritual website As a transformational mentor and holistic writer, she has helped to guide thousands of people throughout the world on their paths of self-acceptance and wholeness. You can follow her work and private updates on Facebook.


Helen Elizabeth Williams is the owner of, where she is a staff writer. Her passions are: spirituality, meditation and polo. She adores all animals, but horses have a special place in her heart. She loves the diversity of our cultures, the beauty of simple people and the harmony of Mother Nature. ♥