The Dark Side of Positive Thinking: 12 Ways a Spiritual Practice Can Go Wrong

Having a spiritual practice and routine in your life is a positive thing with so many benefits. However, there are certain ways it can go wrong, and the reasons for this are often overlooked. I’ve highlighted 12 of them to share with you below:

toxic positivity

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This almost seems like a contradiction, but it’s something that happens quite often in spiritual practice. If your goal is to remain positive and pleasant at all times, you end up suppressing real emotions and become inauthentic. This contradiction often arises in spiritual practice when the pursuit of perpetual positivity leads to the suppression of genuine emotions, fostering inauthenticity and denying the complexity of human experience.

spiritual bypassing

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Using spiritual practices to explore yourself, your soul, and your life is a beautiful experience. The problem lies in using spiritual practices to avoid dealing with negative emotions and refusing to face harsh realities or truths. While spiritual exploration can offer profound insights and growth, it’s essential to engage with honesty and courage, confronting both the light and shadow aspects of oneself for authentic healing and transformation.

spiritual ego

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If your spiritual practice revolves around enhancing your self-image or inflating your self-worth to mean that others are less than compared to you, you have created a spiritual ego. This can give people a sense of superiority and importance over others which is the opposite of what spirituality means to capture in its essence. 

becoming dependent on outside guidance

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Finding mentors, teachers, and Gurus along the spiritual path can be an incredibly aligned experience. Sometimes, we need help from others to see and bring out the light and power that we have within ourselves. But once you’ve found your way, you’ll have to start trusting yourself and your intuition, or you’ll always need reassurance and guidance from others. 

spiritual materialism

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Pursuing spirituality for personal, material, public recognition, or monetary gain is largely distasteful. This leads to a superficial, empty, lonely sort of spirituality that only leads you farther from your soul’s purpose. 

escapism

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Acknowledging that we are spiritual beings having a human experience can create problems in accountability and escapism. Clinging too tight to the soulful essence we contain is often used to avoid the responsibility of life and create false realities that are more pleasant to deal with. This dichotomy can lead to a disconnection from the present moment and neglect of personal growth opportunities, as individuals may prioritize spiritual ideals over tangible actions and accountability in their daily lives.

Judgement & intolerance

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If your spiritual practice causes you to adopt a very rigid set of religious or cultural dogmas, be sure you don’t cultivate an attitude of judgment towards those who don’t follow the same path as you. You can dedicate yourself to a particular way of being without becoming intolerant to the ways of others that differ from yours.

becoming unrelatable

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If you get too deep in a spiritual practice without keeping one foot on the ground, you might become unrelatable to others. That’s not to say that we live to be relatable and easy to get along with, but if we become “too spiritual” and refuse to see the world in any way other than ours, we lose the experience of connection and community that our souls crave. A spiritual practice shouldn’t isolate you from relating to anything or anyone.

spiritual addiction

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There’s an issue with your spiritual practice if you’re using it to feel distraction, validation, or feelings of escaping. These can turn into addictive behaviors, patterns, and unhealthy attachments. Quieting the mind,  calming the body, and connecting to yourself is not the same as using your practice as a vice or a crutch. 

lack of discernment

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It’s very important to vet your sources, knowledge, teachings, information, etc., within the realm of spiritual practice. Everyone is vulnerable to being manipulated and deceived by people/groups with negative intentions. 

imbalance & extremism

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Anything in excessive amounts can be detrimental to humans… including water and not excluding spirituality. In a spiritual practice, it’s essential to maintain balance and moderation, or you run the risk of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual burnout.

neglecting mental health

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Make sure that you’re not dismissing your mental health or ignoring concerns under the guise of “spiritual energy.” Spiritual interventions can and do help people, but sometimes it’s not enough and you need to take care of yourself proactively. 

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