Gratitude, Spiritual Bypassing & Toxic Positivity: Why We Need to Embrace Our Triggers

Are you ready to face your triggers? Last week we deep dived into the basics of toxic positivity, the beautiful lies society loves to weave with it and the importance of recognizing privilege in our quest for success. This week I wanted to add more pieces to the positivity puzzle: triggers and gratitude

I love gratitude, I have a daily gratitude practice, I can HONESTLY say that having a gratitude practice changed my life but the only reason it was effective is because it was authentic. It would not have worked if I was not truly in a place where I could be grateful for the things in my life or if I had used the list of what I had to blatantly ignore what I was missing in my life. 

When we are authentically grateful, or want to be grateful, we are able to tap into the mindset benefits of gratitude. If we don’t believe the gratitude statements or affirmations we are saying they do not have the same effect on our mindset. When we use gratitude as a way to repress or escape from our thoughts or negative behaviors we are repressing emotions that NEED to come up and be processed.

Spiritual Bypassing 

Spiritual practices that encourage “love and light” or “positivity” only can intensify this issue. This practice of actively suppressing, ignoring or rejecting negative emotions through spiritual beliefs is called spiritual bypassing. Most major religions have practitioners that live and preach like this. There are individuals who believe that their faith calls for them to not experience negativity and disregard hard or uncomfortable situations.They may say toxic positivity phrases like “God will always take care of it;” they mean well but they might also be excluding themselves from taking responsibility for their actions. I believe that it is ok to be supported by your faith and to ask for guidance but if you do not take action and sit with the hard moments nothing will change. 

People who participate in spiritual bypassing are ironically stunting their growth under the guise of being evolved. By refusing to acknowledge the uncomfortable and hard experiences in life they are exhibiting an inordinate amount of privilege and diminishing any authentic human emotions.

In summary, spiritual bypassing is using faith or trust in the universe as an excuse to run from our challenges instead of mustering up the courage to grow from them. Spiritual bypassing adopts the idea of gratitude and uses it as a toxic positivity tool to tell others to “always look at the glass half full” or “look at the bright side” without leaving space for people to process negative emotions. 

I think we can all admit to being guilty at feeding someone an inauthentic toxic positivity lie. So how do we overcome this issue? 

Embrace Triggers to Process Emotions 

The best way to combat toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing is to embrace what triggers us. *This is referring to trigger in a day to day scenario such as social media, things that irk us and benign annoyances. If you have larger triggers due to past experiences I highly recommend working with a mental health professional on this! 

To face our triggers we need to stick with what we are feeling and face the emotions head on. When something triggers us we have the opportunity to do some deep self-reflection to get to know ourselves a little better. 

If we want to be authentically positive we have to wade through the muck and get to know who we are! If we do the hard work when our emotions come up we can move out of the negative space and into our positive space faster. 

It’s hard work but we don’t have to go at it alone. I’ve got a program on triggers that includes a 30 minute 1×1 session available if you want to face this with a buddy! Regardless of how you approach it the most important factor is to make sure you embrace the emotions, accept how you feel for what it is and then you can work through it and make your way to Good-vibes-ville (if you want)!

Conclusion

Yes, having a gratitude practice is great if it feels authentic to you! Participating in spiritual beliefs is a wonderful way to live your life – as long as you aren’t negating your human experience! Yes, you need to face your triggers head on if you want to grow from them. Your positive experiences are beautiful and valid but don’t forget to accept the beauty in the negative and neutral! 

Hope this helps you and inspires you to live a more authentic life! 

*I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Please work with a licensed professional on all health changes. 

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