Episode 84: Spotting Spiritual Toxicity

Episode 84: Spotting Spiritual Toxicity

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When we embark on a spiritual journey, we understand that life is a teacher, and we are the students. As seekers, we examine things differently and yearn to find meaning in the lessons we learn. Naturally, we gravitate towards communities and like-minded people who can help us along our path. Still, unless we are careful, we can step into a toxic spirituality that wants us to believe that spirituality means perfection. We must learn to recognize this as a form of spiritual abuse and not for our highest good.

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SPOTTING SPIRITUAL TOXICITY

WHAT IS TOXIC SPIRITUALITY?

Spirituality is the last place we’d expect toxic patterns and behaviors to pop up. Still, as more and more people avoid heavy-handed religious principles in favor of a more personal journey, spiritual toxicity has indeed found fertile soil in the spiritual community.

As long as there have been spiritual communities, spiritual abuse has been present. In short, toxic spirituality is the expectation to embody only one facet of the spiritual journey while downplaying the others. If you’ve been told to “just be positive” or “go with the flow” when dealing with something heavy, sad, or unfortunate, you have most likely been subject to toxic spirituality. Learning to recognize the warning signs of spiritual abuse can assist you in overcoming the misaligned messages you are receiving and allow you to experience the full range of human emotions that are your birthright to experience.

“It's so important in our human experience, in our soul's evolution, to acknowledge feelings.” - Amy Robeson
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SPIRITUAL ABUSE? SAY WHAT?

Abuse is a heavy word and not one we should use lightly. Still, it’s critical to recognize it when it’s happening to keep ourselves safe physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Spiritual abuse is a frightening reality and not as easily recognized as other forms of abuse, but it is just as damaging as any other.

You are a soul having a human experience; in that experience, you are here to feel the entire range of emotions. You are allowed to feel sad. You are entitled to feel anger, rage, hopelessness, self-pity, or any other emotion that comes up for you. Identifying as a spiritual person does not insulate you from the human part of your existence. On the contrary, it’s being able to fully feel these emotions and process them that elevates your spirituality. Any time you are told that feelings are the problem that is toxic spirituality.

Our emotions assist us in our spiritual evolution!

IT’S A PROCESS

We want to experience emotions because it allows us to experience life through different lenses, which only becomes unhealthy when we allow those emotions to take over and create a personality around them. When a period of anger over a situation becomes a permanent part of our experience, when we stew on the situation for far too long, we have a problem. When we feel the emotion, it's asking us to process it for our own good.

We don't want to have a chip on our shoulders. It's not healthy. We must first process the emotions to recognize them, feel them, and then release them. Once we're done feeling them, we release them and choose a different emotion that supports what we want to experience in its place.

THAT IS SO TOXIC

I know I'm dealing with spiritual toxicity when feelings are not acknowledged. It’s unhealthy to ignore the entire spectrum of emotions that arose from a bad situation and gloss over them with "love and light.” When we have problems in our lives, there's an appropriate and inappropriate response.

Yes, we have access to light and true, deep love, and we can find spiritual meaning in anything and everything we do. We can find true, deep spiritual meaning even in the most horrific circumstances. However, it is not okay to not acknowledge a person's feelings when they are suffering. It is not okay to skip past the grieving process or prohibit the person from processing what they are going through. It is not spiritual to ignore the inconvenience, suffering, heartache, sorrow, or whatever it is that that person may be experiencing from an unforeseen circumstance. Any manipulation to receive the label of "spiritual" is, in fact, spiritual abuse.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON?

I have found that those within the spiritual community often say, "Let's be positive. That's the most appropriate thing to do at this moment in time." And it is not. It's spiritual bypassing at its finest, and it is toxic. If someone is suffering, the last thing they want to hear is, "Everything happens for a reason."

The most appropriate response would be, "I am so sorry that this is happening. This is frustrating. This has caused a lot of heartaches, and it's awful." There is a time to allow positivity to come in and for the silver lining to be shared, but acknowledgment has to happen first. The world would be much better if we acknowledged people's suffering, heartache, and inconveniences because that acknowledgment allows people to be seen and heard while being held in support differently.

“If someone is suffering, the last thing that they want to hear is "Everything happens for a reason.” - Amy Robeson
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SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

If you are in a situation where the signs of spiritual oppression are loud and clear, I encourage you to speak up, even if only to yourself. If you are in an unfortunate circumstance that has caused a lot of frustration, and if someone's trying to console you with spiritual bypassing, or toxic positivity, acknowledge to yourself that it's happening.

Depending on your relationship or the circumstance, you could start a conversation about how they are not helping the situation. The last time I experienced this kind of toxic spirituality, I knew it was not my responsibility to let the person know their response was inappropriate. I didn't want to invest my energy into that conversation, and that's okay too. I acknowledged it for myself, and that was enough.

FORGIVE YOURSELF

When we get honest with ourselves, we can all find situations where we've been toxic in the situation or conversation. Once we recognize and acknowledge we have spoken inappropriately, we can do better. The next time you find yourself with someone who needs comfort, go ahead and comfort them.

You can say something positive when it becomes appropriate to do so. There is space and time for positivity and that silver lining after the full weight of all the other emotions has been properly processed. The context has to be there for the positive message to land where the person can receive and appreciate it rather than feel unheard or unsupported.

“There's a time and place for positivity, but it needs to be appropriate.” - Amy Robeson
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AFTER THE RAIN COMES THE RAINBOW

It's often said we cannot have rainbows without rain, and it's true. Still, the rain is just as valuable to our soul's evolution as the rainbow that appears after the storm. Yes, we crave love and light, and we should embody these as often and fully as possible. But there is more to being enlightened than hearts, flowers, and rainbows.

Wherever we're at in our journey, acknowledgment of our feelings will always be a part of it. The more you acknowledge your feelings, the more you can lift yourself up, allow your light to shine, and invite that beautiful evolution your soul craves. The more that you acknowledge others' feelings, it will assist in lifting them too.

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Full transcription of the episode:

Hello, my friends, and welcome to today's episode. I'm so excited you are here. Let's talk about spiritual toxicity. We are souls having a human experience. And one of the most beautiful things that we get to experience in this lifetime is big emotions. We have an opportunity to experience anger and joy and gratitude and pure ecstasy. We get to also experience frustration. We get to experience disappointment, sadness, and grief. We get to experience happiness.

We get a wide variety of feelings that we get to be gifted with. And it's such an amazing miracle. And part of these emotions assists us in evolving. We want to experience emotions because it allows us to experience life through different lenses. What's not healthy is if we allow that emotion at that moment to take over and create a personality for us. So let's say you're angry about something. You're stewing on it, stewing on it, stewing on it.

The anger becomes a month-long, becomes two months-long, becomes decades-long, that you are carrying it, and it becomes your personality. It goes from attitude to personality. And you don't want to be angry all the time. You don't want to have a chip on your shoulder, and it's not healthy. So it's important that we process our emotions. We feel our emotions, and once we're done feeling them, we release them and choose a different emotion that supports the emotion that we want to be feeling at that particular moment.

It's really important in our soul's evolution to acknowledge feelings. Let me say that again. It's so important in our human experience, in our soul's evolution, to acknowledge feelings. And what I can't stand is spiritual toxicity when feelings are not acknowledged. When we move into this, everything's love and light and beautiful and rainbows, and yes, we have access to true, deep love. We have access to light. We can find spiritual meaning in anything and everything we do.

Even in the most horrific circumstances, we can find true, deep spiritual meaning. However, let me say this. However, it is not okay to not acknowledge a person's feelings when they are suffering. It is not okay to skip past the grieving process or allow the person to process what is going on. It is not okay to not acknowledge the inconvenience, the suffering, the heartache, the sorrow, whatever it is that that person may be experiencing from an unforeseen circumstance.

From grief, from loss, from disappointment, whatever it is. We have situations that arise in our lives, and there's an appropriate response and an inappropriate response. And I find that sometimes in the spiritual community, people think that it's immediately, "Let's go to positivity. Let's be positive. That's the most appropriate thing to do at this moment in time." And it is not. It totally is not.

It's spiritual bypassing at its finest, and it's toxic beyond belief because if someone is suffering, the last thing that they want to hear that's the very first thing that someone says to them is "Everything happens for a reason, or "let's just go with the flow." And let me tell you, I just had someone tell me to go with the flow when there was a very unfortunate event that happened.

And it wasn't that person's fault. It wasn't anybody's fault that was in the situation. However, there are a lot of people upset, a lot of people frustrated, a lot of people angry, a lot of people out of money and time, and things like that. And the last thing I want to hear is to go with the flow. The most appropriate response would be, "I am so sorry that this is happening. This is frustrating. This has caused a lot of heartaches, and it's awful."

That right there is an appropriate response, and there is a time to allow positivity to come in, to allow the silver lining to be shared. But acknowledgment has to happen first. And I think that the world would be a much better place if we acknowledge people's suffering, we acknowledge people's heartache and inconveniences because that acknowledgment allows people to be seen, allows people to feel like they're being heard, allows people to be held in support in a different way.

And trust me; I love the phrase go with the flow. But there's an appropriate time to say it when it's in the correct context. So what I want to encourage you to do, as you're navigating your human experience, is if you are in an unfortunate circumstance or in a circumstance that has caused a lot of frustration and if someone's trying to console you, but they're spiritual bypassing, or they're offering a lot of positive toxicity, and that's not the appropriate thing to hear just acknowledge that that's happening internally.

You might, depending on your relationship or the circumstance; you could talk to that person. For me, that something that just recently happened that I just mentioned. I'm not going to go out of my way. It is not my job or responsibility to let this person know how their response was inappropriate. Not my time, not my place. I don't want to waste my energy on it.

So you have to understand the person that you're speaking to if this is happening to you if it's appropriate for you to bring it up. If it's not, it's okay. The next thing is to acknowledge how you're feeling because your feelings are valid. You're feeling them. That's coming up for you to feel. And once you feel the feelings and you allow the stress response to complete itself, then you get to choose a different emotion that supports you in where you're wanting to be, the state you're wanting to be at.

If you are the person that is being positive and you don't realize it at the moment in time, and you realize it later, forgive yourself. I think that we can all look back at things that we have said to other people, and it wasn't probably appropriate at that moment in time. And I think forgiveness is really, really important. The next thing is if you find yourself in a situation where someone is in a situation where they need comfort, move to an acknowledgment of feelings first.

Comfort them. And then you can say something positive when it's an appropriate time because there's always a time and place for positivity. There truly is, but it needs to be appropriate. The context has to be there. It has to be in a place where it's going to land, and the person's going to receive it. And we want to make sure that we know the type of energy that we're in at that moment in time. And know that not everything is butterflies and rainbows. And I want it to be butterflies and rainbows.

And the beautiful thing is butterflies can only be created when it rains, when there's a cloud, and when there's a particular lighting that occurs. I don't know how the rainbow exactly gets created, but it's usually within a stormy situation. And it's beautiful because it allows the light to come forward. Wherever we're at in our journey, acknowledgment is always going to be a part of it.

And so the more that you acknowledge yourself, the more that you can lift yourself up and allow your light to shine and allow yourself to evolve as well. And the more that you will acknowledge others, it will assist in lifting them too.

I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please make sure you like and subscribe. It helps more than you know. Take care. Bye.

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