Positive thinking and gratitude are a big part of the current teachings of spiritual growth in today’s society. While positive thinking and gratitude can and do transform us in countless ways, suppressing certain thoughts and emotions can also transform us, but not in the way we’d like.
It’s important to recognize in ourselves and in others when to energetically embrace and move through an emotion considered “negative.” We can’t simply neglect emotions that stem from loss and merely jump to positive thinking and gratitude without residual effects. Suppressed emotions will surface one way or another beginning with dis-ease in the body and eventually leading to disease.
Imagine you tell your friend that you just lost your job, your lease, your inspiration, anything really. You’re devastated. Scared. Anxious, and your friend says, “Think positive. Something good will become of this,” or “Just be grateful you had it up until now.” If you energetically tune into your body, it feels like a shock to your system. Almost like suspended animation and you’re thinking, “Wait. What just happened?
What happened is what is called Spiritual Bypass. A total disregard to the emotional grief, loss, or fear you’re experiencing. We need our moment of feeling loss without being told to think positive. We need time to move through emotions, to finish a thought, a sentence without having to be grateful for something in that very moment. When we’ve moved through the emotion, however long it takes, we may then come to see the positive in the loss and find that we are in gratitude for the experience. It takes time. This is the path of spiritual growth.
Positive thinking and gratitude have their place in spirituality. Just be mindful of spiritual bypass as you walk your path. Process and move your emotions through your body and hold the space for others to process theirs.