Are you unknowingly participating in toxic spirituality?
May 26, 2023
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As with anything, the spiritual lifestyle has a shadow side.
And it’s important to be conscious of its shadow in order to keep yourself from unknowingly venturing into it.
The energy it evokes is the opposite of expansion and evolution in consciousness — but often wrapped up in a well-intending heart — it can be difficult to perceive.
Spoiler alert: whether we’re aware of it or not, we’ve all participated in toxic spirituality.
I know I have. And it’s something I continue to be mindful of.
But I don’t judge my blind spots or others. I believe that identifying not-so-healthy behaviour is a time to celebrate rather than shame because it conveys a new level of self-awareness.
Here are 9 toxic spirituality symptoms.
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 1
Spiritual Bypassing + Inauthentic Positivity
Spiritual bypassing is when you use spiritual concepts as a means to avoid certain emotions or situations in your life.
And inauthentic positivity (aka toxic positivity) is one of the most common forms.
It’s when you believe you need to be positive at all times in order to manifest your desires and spread light.
But suppressing emotion means denying your authentic self.
And unprocessed emotion becomes stuck in your energetic field (aka aura) and will constantly emit a negative vibration — the opposite of what inauthentic positivity is trying to achieve.
‘Negative’ emotions have purpose. They’re powerful tools to move energy.
Let your body process them. Then return to a state of gratitude.
Knowing you can trust yourself to allow all parts of you to coexist.
What emotions am I currently avoiding?
Do I believe my thoughts must be positive at all times in order to manifest good things?
Goodbye “good vibes only” era. Hello “honouring the self” era.
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 2
The word “narcissism” is pretty triggering, but no person is entirely free of narcissism. We’ve all got an ego and that ego has perceived desires and needs.
Spiritual narcissism is the belief that your spirituality makes you better than others.
It perpetuates separation. Us vs. them. And that’s the opposite of the oneness consciousness that’s the heart of most spiritual teachings.
The stronger your ego identifies with a specific idea of being ‘spiritual,’ the more difficult it will be for you to see the narcissism behind it.
You may feel like you need to dress a certain way, or use particular words or gestures in order to convey an image of what you believe a spiritual person should look and act like.
Am I acting, dressing, or speaking a certain way to convey a message about myself to others?
Do my spiritual beliefs give me a feeling of superiority?
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 3
Idolizing Spiritual Teachers
When a spiritual teacher speaks the language of your heart there’s a special connection there.
It’s an incredible feeling to find someone who you feel totally gets what you’re moving through and can explain so many things that you’ve questioned.
But the best spiritual teachers are the ones that help connect you to your inner power and wisdom. Their goal is to be a wayshower rather than the voice of undoubtable truth.
Because everyone’s perceived experience is different. And not a single person on this planet can zoom out far enough to understand it all.
And the trouble with idolizing spiritual teachers is that at some point you’re going to disagree with something they say or do and that can cause an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance if you don’t see them for what they are. Humans.
Remember, you are the best spiritual teacher you’ll ever have. Trust your intuition, your inner wisdom, the divine spark inside, and the nudges from your higher self (ascended “future” self who will always be your greatest guide).
Is it safe to disagree with my spiritual teachers?
Do I trust my discernment and intuition?
Related Post: Life-Changing Female Spiritual Teachers
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 4
Superstitions & Attachment
Spiritual practices can be incredible ways to strengthen your connection with your inner self and higher consciousness.
But when you begin to rely on spiritual practices, items, and rituals to exist in the world and start forming dependencies and superstitious beliefs linked to them, you are diminishing your own power and dimming the light you came here to shine.
For example, at one point in my life, if I wasn’t carrying a protective crystal or wearing one as jewelry, I believed I was susceptible to energetic harm.
Then, one day, a clear message moved through me (which I believe was channeled from an angelic guide) that told me that I was far more powerful than I was giving myself credit for and to claim that power and stop dimming my light.
I still love the energy and beauty of crystals, but I no longer feel like I’m less than without them.
Do I have any superstitions or attachments to spiritual objects or practices?
What limiting beliefs are causing them?
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 5
Everyday I scroll by social media posts about the importance of discipline in spirituality along side contradictory posts about the importance of flexibility and going with the flow.
Here’s my take on it: Spiritual practice is a sacred, personal experience. If a disciplined daily practice cultivates a sense of inner connection and truly lights you up, amazing.
But if it feels forced, consider your motivation.
Do you have a non-negotiable spiritual practice because …
- The structure provides a sense of security and stability to your life
- You generally lack motivation and you find the daily routine helpful
- The practice consistently lights you up
- a spiritual teacher/mentor told you you should
- It makes you feel more spiritual
- Your friend does it and they’re happy
- You’ve done it for years and you’re afraid of what may happen if you stop
If you most resonated with B, it’s an indicator that your motivation is coming from pressure rather than pleasure.
And if you feel like your whole day is thrown off if you can’t get in that morning practice, you may have developed an attachment to your own self-discipline.
Here’s a post about how I learned to let go of a disciplined morning practice and instead integrated spirituality/self-connection throughout my day.
Do I hyperdiscipline myself?
Or do I allow myself flexibility based on my mood and energy?
Related Post: 11 Micro Spiritual Practices for Busy Women
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 6
Lack of Discernment
Not every spiritual practice will be right for you.
Not every channeled message will resonate.
Not every spiritual concept will spark a sense of truth in your body.
And that’s good.
On the other hand, if you take everything in without question, you’re essentially allowing yourself to be programmed by the beliefs of others.
And that buries your authenticity under layers of conditioning. Disconnecting you from your own inner voice.
And isn’t the goal of spirituality connection?
Do I question spiritual teachings?
Do I know what a “yes” and “no” feel like in my body?
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 7
Clinging to “Truth”
The purest form of personal freedom is allowing yourself to change your mind, your beliefs, your “truth” over and over again.
What’s true for you may not be true for someone else.
And what was true for you last year may no longer be true for you today.
Fighting for the word of “truth” is a losing battle. And has caused so much violence and hatred on this planet.
We’re all transformational by design. And holding space for our beliefs and the beliefs of others to change is the greatest act of love.
Do I spend time trying to convince others to agree with my beliefs?
Is it okay for me to question my current beliefs?
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 8
Sometimes, after being on the self-healing journey for a while it’s possible to become attached to your own healing.
It satisfies the perfectionist inside, making you feel like you constantly need to become a better and better version of yourself. But this is a hamster wheel that can lead to serious burnout and self-judgement.
Also, overanalyzing emotions can cause you to become hyper-aware of every single feeling. Leading you down a rabbit hole of shadow work.
I find shadow work really helpful, but spending too much time in your shadow isn’t healthy. Treat your shadow like a 3-star Airbnb. You may need to visit it but you definitely don’t want to move in.
Do I judge and overanalyze my emotions?
Can I allow myself time away from healing?
Toxic Spirituality Symptom 9
I love this term coined by Gabby Bernstein.
I don’t know about you, but I’m growing tired of hearing about manifesting.
It’s everywhere on social media, so many books have been written about the topic, and people have grown online empires training others how to do it.
But I get it. We all want to figure out the secret sauce to getting what we want in life.
And I do believe that a lot has to do with the frequency/signal you’re putting out into the universe.
BUT constantly visualizing your desire, reciting affirmations, and trying to control your frequency can start to feel … manic.
And often, thinking too much about what you want, reminds you of what you don’t yet have. And then you’re just playing a tug of war game with your mind and frequency.
Instead, chilling out, focusing on what you do have, and practicing gratitude can be so much more effective in maintaining your resonance with the good stuff in life (including your future desires).
Do I focus more on what I have or what I want?
Can I trust the universe with my desires?
Did Anything Sound Familiar?
If you found that you’re participating in some or all of the toxic spirituality listed above, be gentle with yourself.
The spiritual lifestyle can be filled with contradictions and moving through them helps you develop a greater sense of self-awareness.
The simplest things you can do to diminish toxic spirituality are:
- be mindful of your intentions
- consistently ask yourself questions (like the ones listed above)
- remember we’re all doing our best to navigate our experience
If you’ve been participating in toxic spirituality, own it and grow from it.
None of us are ‘perfect.’ Nor are we designed to be.
Let’s take it easy on each other.