As with all choices in life, we are individually responsible for the ones we make. Spiritual bypass is such a choice, however, not necessarily a conscious one. Often the choice is made in order for us to learn a very valuable lesson; what spiritual bypass is and how it feels and what to do to avoid it going forward. Below is a beautiful excerpt from an interview with John Welwood by Tina Fossella (full interview):
I noticed a widespread tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. When we are spiritually bypassing, we often use the goal of awakening or liberation to rationalize what I call premature transcendence: trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it. And then we tend to use absolute truth to disparage or dismiss relative human needs, feelings, psychological problems, relational difficulties, and developmental deficits. I see this as an “occupational hazard” of the spiritual path, in that spirituality does involve a vision of going beyond our current karmic situation.
We can experience this in different areas and different stages in life. In our every day life we use terms "high and mighty", "full of oneself", etc. These are good indicators that someone might be exercising one form or another of spiritual bypass.
We can recognise the pattern by observing our own thoughts, words and actions (the only elements we can control). If they are at anytime coming from a place fear, they will generate emotions that are low vibrational, such as, judgement, jealousy, bitterness, presumption, idealisation, vanity, etc. In severe cases they lead to megalomania or narcissism. Our triggers are also paramount in identifying our path of personal development. In our coaching practice we suggest to our clients to show gratitude for their triggers. Firstly, if you have a routine of immediately saying "thank you" when you are triggered, you interrupt the spiral of thoughts that will be generated by the state of fear the trigger awoke. Secondly, this allows you to then from a perspective of your awareness observe your thoughts and ask, "why am I thinking this way?", "Where did this thought pattern originate?". This, in turn, then opens the door to reveal the trail of breadcrumbs that lead back to the Original Sensitising Event (OSE) giving you an opportunity to work on and heal it. Working on your "baggage" is the opposite of spiritual bypass.
By accepting your triggers and that you are engaging in spiritual bypass are necessary steps in disengaging yourself from the destructive behaviour.
Whenever anyone proclaims to be the best or #1 of anything, unless there is a competitive or quantifiable basis for it, I take note and start asking questions. Also, if anyone claims to be the only source of any wisdom or healing, I stay away. Guru worship is a very common trap of spiritual bypass. I have come across many wonderful healers, mediums, psychics, spiritual sages, etc. on my journey and they have all been destined catalysts on it. However, they have not claimed to be the best or the only ones' of anything. They may state that they are supremely proficient at what they do, but without claiming the top alone. Actually, some of the most powerful healers and sages I have come across do not advertise extensively, they trust the universe to bring them the souls that they are meant to assist. This is not to say that advertising is bad, but it is what we claim in that messaging that can lead us down the path of spiritual bypass. At the end of the day, people's journeys cannot be collectivised, they are individual, and each and everyone of us have our own guru inside.
I believe part of our journey is to bring your pure essence, the innocence that you were born with, into physical manifestation as your physical expression. When there is a gap between there we are incongruent, as Carl Rogers would say, we strive to become congruent. This gap, if ignored, is spiritual bypass.
"When transcendence of our personal history takes precedence over intimacy with our personal history, spiritual bypassing is inevitable." - Robert Augustus masters "Spiritual Bypassing; When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters"
Trust yourself and your intuition, don't assume you know someone's story, don't take anything personally, use your words impeccably and always do your best (The Four Agreements), and you will grow spiritually and personally in alignment with your true purpose.