Spiritual bypassing is the use of spiritual explanations to dismiss, diminish or avoid dealing with complicated emotions, uncomfortable experiences or facing the complex and often harsh realities of life.
It’s part magical thinking and part toxic positivity, in the sense that the individual ignores hardships and real experiences based solely on the belief that everything is good and perfect. The aim of this behaviour is to protect their existing view of the world and repress emotions that would be uncomfortable to face.
Some examples of spiritual bypassing:
- dismissing someone’s grief by saying “he’s in a better place now”, or “this was God’s will”, not acknowledging the pain and heartbreak of the person in order not to face their own fears of mortality or loss.
- the belief that struggles are a gift and they are always here to teach us, and even abusers are “teachers” and it’s our responsibility to be the bigger person and “learn”, and leaving or setting boundaries would be weakness and avoiding the “teaching”.
- ignoring personal responsibility and not taking accountability for one’s actions and bigger role in society by believing faith and the universe will always provide. If someone struggles, that means they didn’t believe hard enough and their wish was not strong or pure.
- all the forced positivity regarding mental health, disability and neurodivergence, from ableist views ignoring support needs or lived experiences to denying other’s existence in order to not confront their own fears about their health or lives. “You are not disabled, you are special!” “Your struggles are your superpower!” “Don’t say you are disabled, don’t be so negative, you are amazing!” “You are depressed because you don’t mediate enough.”