As spiritual beings having a human experience, we get attached and tied to things, relationships and stuff. In fact, we begin to measure our own value by that attachment. And then, when a relationship breaks, or we fail at something, we somehow believe that we are a failure. We are no longer worthy.
Attachment is the source of all suffering.
People, places and things can ruin us unless we can learn to live in a state of detachment. Not detachment as “I don’t care”, in a disconnected way. But detached in the sense of no longer needing to have control over the outcome. That place where you can honestly say, I trust that all is well.
Let go and let God.
Can you enter that place where you release your perceptions, beliefs, expectations of how things should turn out? Can you experience life as it is, even when that’s not how you hoped it would be? In some cases, this means feeling your emotions, then letting them go. It might include establishing emotional boundaries, rather than giving away your power to others.
Can you detach from the material world and simply trust that all is well?
The love of money is the root of all evil.
Take a moment and consider your spiritual practices – whether it’s prayer, meditation, singing, chanting, study or silence. What is the purpose of your practice, and how has it helped you heal?
Contemplate how you can practise healthy detachment from relationships, situations or even thought patterns and habits because of these spiritual practices.
Are they really working for you?
Or are you merely going through the motions of being busy in spiritual practice to avoid doing the deep work of facing your shadows, pain, guilt and shame?
What is spiritual bypassing?
A spiritual bypass is a defence mechanism we use, which effectively distracts us from experiencing the present moment. It’s what we do when we get busy so that we can ignore our feelings.
Do you find yourself using spiritual bypassing to shield you from the ugly truth of what you really feel? Perhaps you keep telling yourself, I obviously need to pray more, because I shouldn’t feel this way. You stuff it or swallow it down so that it doesn’t show.
Are you “checking out” by studying more, reading more, and learning more, instead of checking in with your feelings? How long do you think you can go on saying “I’m fine”, rather than acknowledging that you really aren’t okay?
Perhaps you tell yourself it’s self-care, even, when it’s really just avoidance. You become a Pharisee, busy following all the rules, without ever really experiencing the cleansing flood of tears and true healing.
The reality is that spiritual healing doesn’t typically happen when you are reading, studying, in prayer, singing or in meditation. Healing occurs in the middle of an argument – when you remember to pause before you say something hateful. Rebuilding yourself comes after a breakdown or loss, walking down the beach, crying silent tears. In the middle of life, you find grace and mercy to cleanse your soul, heal your emotions, and refocus your thoughts.
Bypassing your unresolved trauma, wounds & issues
While you might try to outrun the pain and forgetting it, spirituality is not about “feeling good” or “being positive”. Pain in life is inevitable, and your spiritual practice is not intended to numb the pain but to truly heal it.
Have you noticed that 40% of the Psalms are about pain suffering and lament? When was the last time you read Job or even the book of Jonah?
And yet we tell ourselves:
Don’t be a Debbie Downer.
When we live in a culture that says “just use your positive affirmations”. Claim your power. All the while, you fail to acknowledge that you are angry, fearful and irritable. Because we hide it, we side-step the healing process for emotional, mental and psychological wounds.
Perhaps you are telling yourself “I forgave them”, but still feel the resentment, hurt and anger. And in your confusion of “I shouldn’t feel this way”, you bottle it up and swallow it down, rather than acknowledging the truth that you haven’t done enough work to forgive and release. Sometimes there is much deeper healing work that needs to take place, but it makes us too uncomfortable, so we settle for the spiritual bypass that lets us off the hook.
The potential harm of false positivity
I believe in positive affirmations. They are intense and influential; they have a fantastic role to play. But you can’t fake healing! It’s like painting over a structural crack in the wall: the paint job just won’t hold the building up!
If you want to grow and flourish, you can’t avoid the painful experiences of life. More often than not, it’s not in deep meditation that you find your growth, but when you’re angry, frustrated and upset – and you breathe for a moment. You recognise that you have space to choose your response. That’s where your growth happens.
Of course, you can only achieve this is you have the awareness to acknowledge that you are feeling angry, frustrated and upset. Have you created a safe space in which you can feel pain, sadness or even depression? Is it okay, in your world, to not be okay? Can you admit and ask for help when you need it, whether it be therapy, coaching or spiritual counselling?
We don’t need to hear any more “you shouldn’t feel like that” – but rather the helping hands that say “I see that you feel this way”, now let’s help you move through this.
I love one of the acronyms I learnt through mBraining (most likely from Vikki Coombes, who probably learnt it from Grant Soosalu):
When you are feeling pain – what is the information that it is inviting you to acknowledge?
Shadow work and healing
Are you scared of the dark? Are you afraid to face your guilt and shame, hiding from the pain and ugly aspects of your life? Do you tell yourself to move on, without really doing the work? There is a moment when we stop digging and move on. But not by studiously ignoring it when it needs to be addressed. Not through spiritual bypassing.
Can you explore your inner darkness, sit with it and then release it?
To start on the healing process, we have to acknowledge it exists. Stop denying a part of yourself and turning a blind eye to those parts of yourself that you don’t want to see.
You cannot heal what does not exist. So, your first step in the healing process is to allow it into your awareness, acknowledge it, feel it. Carl Jung referred to this dark part we deny as the shadow self. It might be anger, lust, envy, pain, sadness, anxiety or depression. Generally, these are emotions we feel and thoughts we have, that we have labelled as “wrong”. We tell ourselves “I shouldn’t feel this way any more”, and so we begin to hide them, even from ourselves.
Detachment is what happens when we acknowledge it, but don’t get caught up in it. Be willing to see it, and see yourself experience it, and then allow it to go, rather than engulfing you.
Allow yourself to ask these questions:
- What do I feel?
- When did this start?
- What were the events that triggered this? Which events in my present life are continuing to trigger this?
- Why am I ashamed of feeling this way?
- What part of my identity – who I think I am – requires me to hold onto this? Who would I be if I released this?
Let go and let God
Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s also healthy detachment.
You are not your pain. Or your anger. That is not your identity. It is an emotion you have felt or are continuing to experience. Can you feel it and then let it go?
Can you see yourself disconnecting from that emotion that controls your life? Could you take it one step further and see yourself disconnecting from the people that trigger this response in you and allowing them to control your life?
It’s easy to mistake connection and attachment. Connecting with others is essential. Attachment, however, brings in elements of control and expectations. We get tangled in a web and lose our identity.
Detaching allows you to step back, and see how you can connect with others compassionately, without attachment. With no control or expectations of what should be. It allows you to say “I don’t need you, but I can love you, compassionately“.
In this very same way, can you look in the mirror and see yourself without expectations? Could you acknowledge the shadow self and love yourself just as you are? This is where the healing starts.
Just let go and be with I AM.
5 thoughts on “The value of true detachment, not spiritual bypassing”
I enjoyed reading your thoughts here! 😍
Another excellent article. You know me. Thanks to my great coach Beth, I stopped bottling my emotions. Now I release them freely. Maybe too freely. I understand detachment from material things, and emotions and feelings as well, but regarding emotions and feelings it is sometimes harder to do. You mentioned to love compassionately, but that I feel that to be complicated at times. That is another level I have to learn.
It’s loving without expecting anything in return… English and Spanish only have limited language for love. Other languages have a greater richness.
Like Agape in Greek. And check out other Greek words for family love or the love of parents for children.
Arabic has 11 words for love.
And it’s growing into that place where you are whole first… Without any need for another person to complete you.
I know what you mean Beth. I did that for a long while. I know that happiness comes from within you and from the divine. Happiness is not something you get because X person shows up in your life. Happiness should not be a reaction from someone else. At the same time we are social beings. Self love and loneliness are different things. As I said earlier, you know me. You probably know me better than most people that think they know me well. You know that when I say I love you I’m not expecting a prize. It feels good to say it. To express it. To do it with no strings attached. Everybody needs to hear it; and by God everybody needs to say it. That energy that goes out is probably the greatest feeling in the world.
Yet, and before I forget, to hear someone tell you “I love you too” is super uplifting!