4.3
May 22, 2020

Spiritual Bypassing Literally made me Sick.

For the past six months I was in the coaching business for all the wrong reasons:

I was seeking approval from others through Instagram “likes” and attempting to sell cookie-cutter coaching programs. I wanted to make the big bucks. I expected life to give me everything I ever wanted. I was drowning in “shoulds.”

I put unrealistic expectations on myself to increase my income and gain coaching clients to make back the thousands I invested in my own coaching. I was desperately seeking approval. I thought the key was to have more followers on social media to be considered “successful.”

I was invested in high-ticket manifestation programs, yet I  seemed to be attracting everything I didn’t…car accidents, illness on illness, losing money, deeper in debt, fights with my partner.

I was doing all the “right” things -making lists, visualizing, gratitude letters, rituals, morning routines, vision boards, affirmations, positivity…you name it. Yet for months I saw few things materialize. It didn’t make sense. While I’d achieved my goals and dreams in the past, I began to doubt myself. I poured money into programs and coaches who sold me on familiar words like abundance, alignment, manifestation, radical transformation, and so on. From years of self-study and devoting my life to teaching yoga, I thought “hey, these people are speaking my language!” In these coaching programs I saw an opportunity to expand my teachings of yoga, meditation, and healing. But these investments left me feeling more inadequate than ever. 

My expectations were so high that I hit a low when they weren’t met. A low so deep that I had a physical reaction. Every other week for the past six months I was sick. Not just the sniffles, but violent stomach bugs, strep throat, and other infections. I was constantly pumping antibiotics into my system and started to feel betrayed by my own body. I was a yoga teacher, I lived a healthy lifestyle. I knew how to take care of my body, but something was off. 

Each day became a battle. I was trying my absolute best to keep my head above water. Panic attacks became a part of my weekly routine. I considered it a “good day” if I didn’t have to fight back tears. I had countless sleepless nights where the fear of failure and inadequacy would poke and prod at me, like monsters right out of a nightmare, except these monsters were real: the reality of disease, increasing debt, anxiety, and self-doubt.

I was drained and empty, searching outside myself, grasping at anything that would gain the approval of others to make me feel whole again. My body was trying to tell me something and I failed to listen. I was literally making myself ill, desperately trying to meet standards I placed on myself to live up to other people’s success. I was living in a lack mentality with a false feeling of security and happiness, always searching for more or the next best thing. I quickly let myself become a victim of my own lack. l bought into empty promises and overnight success, fell into the “grass is greener” trap, and began to compare my success.

I was told the Universe was “testing” me when I didn’t receive the results I wanted, clearly, I was failing these “tests,” adding salt to my already open and vulnerable wounds. I let my worth be defined by numbers, money, and other people. There came a point where I couldn’t pay my bills, my credit cards were nearly maxed out from financing coaching programs teaching me how to manifest millions. I whipped together my own overpriced program with little structure based on what I learned and mirroring what I had seen others do. 

During “discovery calls” with potential clients I cringed when I told them my fee, they must have cringed too because I gained zero clients. 

I started to feel scammed and like I was scamming other people. I was selling empty promises, new-age mindsets, and “secrets” of success. After a while, I didn’t even know what I was selling. I lost sight of my true gifts and values. It took hitting rock bottom to realize I was caught in the trap of spiritual bypass,  “the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.” I was nursing a spiritual-bypass hangover. I was recovering from an unrealistic reality, using “good vibes” and positivity to cover up the discomfort and discontent that I now had to face. I was seeking to consume more to fix myself, to feed a short-lived high, and to feel valued by others. 

At first I felt like I was back at square one. All of this time, money, work, and effort for nothing. But now more than ever I see clearly. The rose-colored glasses have been lifted. I had to un-become all the things I thought I had to become to see my own power. I had to feel what it was like to be so far out of alignment that it brought me right back in line.

These lessons have all brought me closer to my most authentic self and truth, which is something that I am constantly working at and will always be a work in process. I stepped out of the fast lane of coaching, went back to my ordinary life, and reclaimed the joys of simplicity. I stopped striving for the greatest, best, or most unique and appreciated where I was on my journey. 

I wanted to continue to play victim, feeling like I was trapped at the bottom of a pyramid scheme. I wanted to push blame, criticize, and feel entitled. Instead I took time to reflect and realize; maybe my desires were not aligned with my Highest Self. Maybe there are deeper wounds I still needed to heal. Maybe I wasn’t as aligned with the things I was preaching or things I was selling. Maybe my worth wasn’t tied up in numbers, followers, or validation from others. Maybe I was good enough just as I was, I didn’t need fixing from a program.

All hard truths to swallow. But deep down I knew I was a healer, that my core desire was to help people and that’s what makes me happy. I was already living my “dream life” and didn’t have to prove that to anyone.

To say I gained nothing from my coaching experience would be a lie, nor am I an anti-coach. I’ve gone back to my roots, creating intentional containers to help people navigate through this deceptive field. These containers are structured around concepts of meditation, befriending the shadow self, and empowering truth. I am most excited about my new project, “Intuitive Buzz” a podcast that explores the authentic people and practices within the spiritual community while debunking buzzwords and concepts that have been misconstrued to exploit good people.

Through this journey I’ve discovered what it means to live in alignment. The bottom line of my work is to seek truth. To bring forth unpopular new-age opinions and shed light on the attractive traps we so easily fall into. Sometimes the truth is hard to face, but not as hard is living someone else’s truth or even a lie.

The truth will set you free.

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Ashlyn Bugbee  |  Contribution: 370

author: Ashlyn Bugbee

Image: Unsplash/Anderson Rian

Editor: Sophie Belanger