“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” —May Sarton
A few years back, I had a powerful awakening that forever changed my life. It was catalyzed by a tragic death, an Ironman triathlon, a dark night of the soul, and a glimmer of light that led me on a deeply personal journey of self exploration. It was a pivotal time in my life that led me to the discovery of more of I was meant to be.
As I progressed along the path of healing, I took an unexpected detour that led me to question who I was becoming. As I morphed and expanded, I fed my mind with an endless supply of personal growth, self-development and spiritual books that initially seemed to help me become …”better”. As I pressed on with my voracious reading binge, however, I began to feel confused. Why was it so hard to remain in a perpetual state of positivity? Why could I not tame my inner fire? Why was I so ashamed of my judgements? Why were the coveted states of bliss and joy so evasive? Why was it so hard to feel compassion for animal abusers, rapists, murderers, war mongerers, liars, thieves, and those who mindlessly destroyed the natural world … Life?
The more confused I became, the more confined I felt. The more confined I felt, the more frustrated I became. I was struggling desperately to fit into the models of spiritual growth that so many self-proclaimed “gurus” wrote about.
Eventually, I reached a threshold where I felt a deeply uncomfortable misalignment with my authentic self. I needed to return to the real me.
On pure impulse one morning, I packed up my books (boxes and boxes of them) and donated them to the local library. In that process, I liberated myself and accepted me…for me. Warts and all. In that moment, I stopped judging myself for not being the perfect specimen of spiritual evolution that I had read about, ad nauseum.
I realized that the journey of self evolution has no finish line. It’s organic, non linear, and profoundly personal. I also noticed that I wasn’t alone in my misaligned perception of spirituality. I found myself irritated with the many people who so deftly spoke the spiritual lingo, but who lacked congruence with their behaviors and actions. I wondered what it was all about…and how did I fall prey to it?
I discovered the answer in two words: spiritual bypassing, an eloquent way of avoiding who we authentically are. A subtle, yet pervasive mindset that infiltrates consciousness in ways that lead to the avoidance of the painful and “socially unacceptable” parts of who we are. Spiritual bypassing deludes us into believing we are already whole, when in fact we are merely avoiding the deepest shadows of our wounded psyche. Bypassing the shadows with spiritual lingo only drives the wounds that much deeper.
No wonder I didn’t feel authentic. I was trying to be something that I’m not.
I realized that it’s ok to not be all love and light all the time. It’s just not realistic. Anyone who claims to be so is lying (or on heavy drugs). For crying out loud, even the Dalai Llama gets pissed off!
This led me on a deeper exploration into the psychic fabric of spiritual bypassing. And this is how I discovered the work of this week’s Unplug podcast guest.
Robert Masters is the author of Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters. He’s also an integral psychotherapist, relationship expert, trainer of healing professionals, and author of many other profoundly transformative books. His work blends the psychological and emotional with the spiritual.
When I read his book, Spiritual Bypassing, it all made sense. I felt a greater sense of liberation. I felt a deeper connection to my true self…including all of my unpleasant bits. When I completed the book, I knew that I had to reach out to Robert for this show. I was excited to share his message of pure authenticity – permission to be who we truly are.
Here’s the deal, if you can talk the spiritual talk, but the spiritual walk still fills you with pain, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re spiritually bypassing. Don’t worry though, there’s a way out…and that’s in.
This week, we explore many fascinating topics such as:
• How trusting intuition brings flow to life.
• What is spiritual bypassing?
• What is the shadow?
• What is shadow work?
• Why there’s no such thing as a negative emotion.
• What is clean anger?
• What is pure grief?
• The difference between spiritual and intellectual bypassing.
• Becoming intimate with shame.
• What defines an authentic man?
• The difference between pain and suffering.
• The importance of full embodiment for healing.
• Emotional literacy.
• Radical trust.
• What is a healthy relationship.
• The toxicity of blind compassion.
• What is healthy confrontation?
• Critical thinking to avoid spiritual gullibility.
• What is enlightenment…and why it doesn’t matter anyways?
Like it or not, our shadowy bits are part of who we are. If we disown them, they own us. If we suppress them, they own us. If we ignore them, they own us. But if we accept all of who we are – shadowy bits and all – we reclaim our true selves and develop the symbiotic relationship with light and dark that makes us more whole.
Anger can move mountains and grief reveals love. Stop thinking, start feeling, and allow the wisdom of Robert Masters lead you home.
• Robert Masters main website.
• Masters Mens Work: Bringing Head, Heart, and Guts into Full-Blooded Alignment 5-day experiences.
• Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters book on Amazon.
• To Be A Man: A Guide to True Masculine Power book on Amazon.
• Masters Couples Intensive.
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