False Spirituality and Self-Delusion
As I work on my attachment issues, I’m examining my mental processes a lot, and trying to sort out which of them are some form of Fearful/Avoidant-fueled distorted thinking.
What I’ve noticed is that any kind of heightened emotion is likely to be from some kind of distortion. (I’m sure that doesn’t mean that a healthy person has no intense feelings, but I’m not quite a healthy person yet, so I need to pay extra attention.)
One of these heightened states is a kind of “spiritual feeling” of inevitability or “meant to be” that corrupts spiritual teachings.
“Meant to be” can easily become a way to disempower ourselves.
For example, the concept of “surrender” really means “to let go”. It doesn’t mean “to put up with crap that hurts you”. Surrender doesn’t negate the concept of boundaries. The lesson is to accept the circumstances that you can’t change–it doesn’t mean you refuse to change the circumstances that you can change and feel helpless.
I see people do this to themselves constantly by using the phrase, “I guess it was meant to be” when they are really avoiding processing how something impacted them. Something can be in some sense “meant to be” on a spiritual level, but that doesn’t change how it impacts you on a physical, animal level. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience–but that physical experience is (a) in technicolor and (b) the point.
We don’t come here to explain everything away as outside our control. We come here to sort through what is actually in our control and what isn’t. We come here to learn how to maintain a sense of choice and inner sovereignty in a world that is constantly forcing experiences on us that we didn’t ask for, and that are often quite painful.
We come here to learn how to maintain our awareness of our Divine nature while at the same time existing in an ever-changing, painful, overwhelming world, within bodies that are frail and minds that are easily confused. That’s the whole point.
Spirituality is in no way meant to keep you from that experience. It’s meant to help you transcend that experience, not escape it. Transcendence means the realization that you are more than just human. It doesn’t mean that you get out of being human.
Spirituality is a realm where the truth is subtle and the potential for self-delusion is high.
The phrase “spiritual bypassing” refers to the tendency to use spiritual concepts to bypass psychological work. I’ve been familiar with this idea for a long time, but I wasn’t aware of the degree to which this is an unconscious process.
The parts of our mind that are stuck in false realities will take any teaching or idea and shape it to support their narrative. And it’s not some kind of mysterious or nefarious process. It’s literally just how our mind works.
So how do you avoid false spirituality?
Spirituality, growth, and pretty much any path of inner work, is about continually shedding illusions and resting in the truth. I can’t really give you a one-size-fits-all answer on how to do this, because the reality is, anything I say will go into your reality-filter like everything else, and get distorted. In other words, “the ego is always listening”.
That’s why it’s called a “journey”. You have to start wherever you are, and look around in your mind and ask yourself where you are lying to yourself.
- Where are the discrepancies between what you say you want, and how you are behaving?
- What just doesn’t quite make sense in your internal story about what is happening?
- Where are the wrinkles in the image your mind is presenting to you?
- What are you telling yourself that feels not quite real?
- What feels like the same thing you have been telling yourself for years, that never gets you anywhere new?
- What internal stories are you starting to feel bored of?
- What emotion feels over-the-top and ungrounded?
- What truth keeps knocking on your door, that you refuse to let in?
- What lesson are you refusing?
- Where do you want so badly to be right, but you have a sneaking suspicion that you are actually wrong?
- Where do you feel smug and self-satisfied and righteous?
- Where are you focused on someone else’s problems, and not your own?
- What disconfirming evidence are you ignoring?
- Where are you buying your own bullshit?
- What feelings are you trying to not feel?
- Where are you letting a feeling decide for you instead of making a conscious choice?
- Where are you blaming others for your own choices?
- Where are you believing you are helpless, when you aren’t?
- What are you running from?
- Where are you refusing to be responsible for yourself?
- Where are you trying to manipulate or force an outcome?
- Where are you pretending to have less power than you do to affect an outcome?
- Where do you need help and are not asking for it, or only asking people you know won’t challenge you?
- Where are you focused on diminishing other people in your mind, rather than feel your own pain and make your own choices?
- Where are you refusing to listen to feedback because you don’t want it to be true?
- Where are you making choices to uphold your image rather than being honest?
There are a million ways to delude ourselves. But there is always some indicator, some place where the light shines through.
When you see it, grab onto it with all your strength, and use it to leverage yourself out of whatever illusion you are lost in.
And then commit to doing that again and again for the rest of your life.
I’m not a therapist or a guru, just a fellow seeker who has been there, healed that, and wants to share. I firmly believe we can all heal, and its often a winding road to get there. The more we share what works and help each other, the more we can all benefit.
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Thanks so much for reading! ~Emma