“Everything happens for a reason” and Spiritual Bypassing

Spiritual bypassing is

“using spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks . . . trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it.”

Excellent article by Chris Wallis explaining how “Everything happens for a reason” is ..not so lit.
I had a girlfriend who had this perfectly – I don’t want to say ‘rehearsed,’ because that would imply intentionality –  story of how her life fell apart.

It was honestly a devastating story, which I think she confided within maybe half an hour or our reunion.

Over the months I’d hear that same story many times, each time with new information added in, context and re-interpretations and explanations of various people’s possible motives and even her own motives re-examined. And with each re-telling it became more and more obvious that her story of “awful fate” as she saw it, was largely because of impulsive outburts and choices on her part and their ramifications. And yes, there was untreated mental illness and childhood trauma that needed treatment behind those choices, which she was working on. Sometimes, she would quietly voice that she could see the part she played in series A or B of her “downfall”, but it was always summed up as “fate” or “luck”.

I think that’s why I find these kinds of quotes on facebook so annoying. It’s ok when it’s said or posted by someone who’s been passed over for a job interview but has a bunch more on the way and isn’t really thinking about things too deeply, but some people really buy into this kind of “the universe has a plan, and that plan is to hold me down no matter what I do” narrative and keeps them stuck or angry, and that causes all kinds of other behaviors and choices that eventually push people away. Or worse.

That’s my little story on why I hate quasi-spiritual platitudes and Dr-Seuss-as-a-Zen master, style quotes.

But I do encourage you to read the article.


2 thoughts on ““Everything happens for a reason” and Spiritual Bypassing

    1. I absolutely agree. Chris’s article explains why problems arise from that premise as well, but mostly embodied by attitudes like my friend’s that “life/god is so unfair” and the teenage-like anger that comes from that. It’s a good article, I’m not a scholar so am not able to elaborate as well as he does.

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