A month ago, I lost my patience over the annoying school construction project at the adjacent property. I reached the end of my rope and wrote a letter to the school president. From a higher perspective, I thought that the incident took place in order for me to heal a decades-long childhood wound. (See my earlier posts, Paradoxical Celebration and A decades-long wounding has come up for my healing).
Sure my childhood wounding came up for healing. But there’s more to it. There was a lot more to it that I was beginning to ignore and dismiss…all in the guise of being spiritual. It isn’t only my little Nadine who’s feeling hurt. My adult self is as much hurting and enraged.
It’s bad enough that the noise produced by the construction project has become a stressor. It didn’t help that I was avoiding admitting just how stressful my living situation has been, and how infuriating the series of events has become.
Falling into the trap
I have realized since that I was starting to fall into the trap of “spiritual bypassing” — it’s when we cut through our process. Rather than acknowledging and honoring our feelings and emotions, we avoid this very crucial part of our healing process, believing we are being unspiritual when we feel these feelings.
I was hurrying up my process. I wanted to come up right away with the lessons that I am supposed to learn, and the messages from the Universe. Why did I attract this situation in my life? Why now? How am I supposed to grow from this? What is my role as a lightworker?
I was already attempting to answer these questions yet what mattered more was to pay attention first to the feelings that were coming up for me.
It’s only after properly honoring my feelings that I will then be able to come to a place of clarity. Then I will be able to truly and fully see the big picture and higher purpose of my experience.
We cannot heal what we do not feel.
I feel angry. I feel annoyed. I am furious. I am irritated. I am disappointed and distressed. I feel frustrated. I feel resentful. I am upset.
And I feel so relieved just to be able to express and release that — with full and complete acceptance, and no judgment.
What triggered these feelings?
- The noise level has been unbearable and has reached stressful levels.
- I am sleep deprived because the construction has been taking place during unholy hours, and even on Sundays. Not only do I lack sleep, the quality of my sleep has most certainly been below healthy level.
- We are dealing with nuns who are supposed to lead by example and practice what they preach.
- The school involved is my alma mater which makes it more disappointing and hurting.
- Despite our complaint, written and verbal, informal and official, no one from the school sent any word of acknowledgment for having received our complaint, or any form of apology for the disturbance or inconvenience caused. None. Nada.
- The management and security team of our residential complex and the local government unit in charge are not as efficient as I would want them to be. I even needed to get personally involved in order for people to move a little bit faster. It becomes more challenging dealing with government personnel as they’re generally more slow-paced than private individuals. Yes, this is the Philippines, it’s third world, things happen a little bit slower. But how much longer are we going to hide behind this curtain of denial, by continuing to justify and give excuses to sub-quality work, and less than acceptable level of service? How and when will we then even begin to progress?
Yesterday, I had my regular acupuncture session and the acupuncturist told me that my yang energy level was quite low. (In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are two fundamental and complementary principles: yin which is negative, dark, passive, cold, wet, and feminine; and yang which is positive, bright, active, dry, hot and masculine. The functioning of the human system is believed to be governed by the interaction of these two energies. Feminine is characterized as the receiving and “being” kind of energy, while masculine is the giving and “doing” kind. Keeping these two energies functioning properly and keeping them balanced is key to an optimal health.)
I wasn’t surprised by his diagnosis. I have been spending my energy doing and doing, and giving and giving. There surely was an imbalance in my energies. I have been feeling very lethargic the past couple of weeks. I have in fact missed a few of my daily morning yoga classes. I didn’t have any energy to practice and I had opted to rest as I felt so exhausted.
What is spiritual bypassing?
In Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation, John Welwood explained how people use spiritual practices to avoid dealing with emotional unfinished business.
There seems to be a tendency amongst spiritual communities to quickly and immediately transcend and move beyond personal and emotional issues in the light of being enlightened.
Rather than facing personal matters squarely, people choose to ignore and bypass the “messy”, “ugly”, “dark” issues and emotions in order to exhibit themselves as being spiritual. There is a misconception that to be spiritual is to be consistently calm, serene, and peaceful, and experiencing emotions such as anger or fear makes one unspiritual.
Yet when we dismiss these emotions and these feelings are stuffed into our bodies, these become repressed and even add to our unconscious material. Later on, we find ourselves being triggered. These repressed emotions are brought to the surface, catching us by surprise. We wonder where that sudden burst of anger or fear could have come from. Then it becomes a vicious cycle.
We cannot heal what we do not feel.
When I feel these feelings, I am as spiritual as much as I am human. And my healing and spiritual progress begins when I am able to identify and acknowledge these feelings.
What makes me “more or less spiritual” is how I handle my emotions and what I do with these feelings when they come up.
And ignoring them will definitely take me farther away from wholeness and balance. Honoring them is what will help lead me back to my center.
I’m thankful I was able to catch myself early enough before falling deep into the trap of spiritual bypassing. It’s a very common misconception. It’s one of those long-held beliefs and teachings that have been passed on to us, but which have been crippling, rather than empowering us.
How about you? Do you have any feelings that you have been dismissing or have not expressed? Might you not be trapped in the illusion that to be spiritual means to be always smiling and peaceful, and not feeling any “dark” or “negative” emotions? Might it not be time for your feelings to be heard?
May we give our feelings a voice and give them attention, and may we honor and embrace each and every emotion.
- Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters, PhD
- Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation by John Welwood
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