MATEO SOL: “12 Signs You’ve Lost Your Authenticity and Are ‘Selling Out'”

Authenticity is a big buzzword these days.

“Be more authentic,” “honor your authenticity,” “find your authentic self” — we hear these phrases scattered all over the internet and spoken about everywhere.

But what does being authentic mean? And most importantly, how can we tell when we’re being inauthentic — also known as “selling out”?

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity is the state of simply being yourself, listening to who you really are, and making decisions that align with your beliefs and values. Authenticity at its core is about deeply accepting all that is ‘you’ and honoring it above ALL else.

What is Inauthenticity (i.e. Selling Out)?

Inauthenticity, on the other hand, is about placing external things above your genuine values, needs, dreams, and artistic vision. When we ‘sell ourselves out’ we are essentially placing all of the most important parts of ourselves up for auction. Instead of making decisions based on our genuine beliefs, values, and personal style, we make decisions based on how much money, attention, fame, or acceptance we will gain from other people.

Examples of Authenticity vs. Inauthenticity

Sometimes reading examples helps to flesh out abstract concepts like authenticity. Here are a few examples taken from real life:

An artist has been contacted by a large publishing agency. They would like to mass produce her art but on the one condition that she change the titles and descriptions. Deep down, the artist knows that the titles and descriptions of her art are intrinsic to her work. She refuses the publishing agencies offer. She has made an authentic choice.

A father sees how gifted at writing his teenage son is. But instead of encouraging his son to pursue a career in writing, the father pressures his son to study business and accounting because it is the “safe” choice. The son then dutifully studies business and accounting in university. Both father and son have made inauthentic decisions.

A life coach who specializes in online mentoring wants to grow her business. In order to get more clients, she focuses solely on what is trendy and popular and writes/talks about those topics. She begins to lose touch with her original vision. She has become inauthentic.

A company is pressured by investors and shareholders to change its philosophy in order to be more “hip,” appeal to the new generation and make more profit. The company refuses to compromise their philosophy. They have made an authentic decision.

12 Signs You’ve Lost Your Authenticity and Are Selling Out

We are not perfect people. Perfection is an illusion. Therefore, it is guaranteed that at some point in your life, you will make an inauthentic decision that compromises your values, vision, or beliefs. It’s just part of being human!

Although we can’t be perfect, we can strive to be more conscious. Self-awareness and honesty are the two key qualities we need to prevent ourselves from slipping into bad choices.

If you’re concerned that you might be “selling out,” read the signs below. They will help to either confirm or challenge your feelings:

  • Your top priority is making bucket loads of money

  • You’re obsessed with getting new followers, fans or subscribers (e.g. on social media)

  • You let others make decisions for you

  • You let others dictate who you are + who you ‘should’ be

  • You follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing

  • You always follow trends even if they don’t make sense to you

  • You reveal only what makes you look good

  • You copy other people and their style/lifestyle

  • You ignore your gut feelings and intuition

  • You wear a mask around others
    You’re scared to be vulnerable and express your true feelings, thoughts, or values (which may be unpopular)

  • You make decisions based on how much attention, fame, money or acceptance you’ll receive rather than your genuine beliefs, values, or vision

Take a few thoughtful moments to make a serious assessment of the list above. Evaluate each point with an honest heart.

How many can you relate to?

How to Stop Selling Out

 

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

~B. Brown

 

I want to make a clear distinction here. There is a difference between selling yourself and selling out.

Selling yourself, in business and career fields, is about highlighting your genuine strengths and gifts, and offering those to the world. Selling out, on the other hand, is about compromising your personal integrity and letting external things drive you instead of internal qualities.

Also, not everyone has the liberty of making authentic decisions — but I want to emphasize that these situations are literally survival situations. For example, if a small business owner from an impoverished country was approached by a wealthy businessman who wanted to invest in and change his company, do you think it would be smart to decline? In certain environments and situations, making choices that go against our creative vision is essential in order to survive. But if you’re blessed to live in more fortunate circumstances where you’re not literally faced with starvation or anything else equally serious, then making authentic decisions is an intelligent way to live life.

Why is being authentic intelligent? Because you are listening to your heart and nurturing your soul. Money, fame, adoration, and approval from others will quench your ego’s need for safety and control — but that only lasts for so long. Soon, you will be left with a big, empty, gaping hole inside. The true joy, inner peace, and fulfillment come when you are living your truth and putting your essence out into the world.

So how do you let your essence — your passions, perspectives, and values — guide you? Here are some ideas; many of which I have discovered across my own authenticity journey:

1. Pay attention to how the decisions you make feel physically. Do you feel uncomfortable, heavy or dark sensations? Or does your body feel light and energized? Unlike the mind, the body cannot lie. Your body is the best lie detector out there. If you are about to make a decision that does not align with your values, your body will immediately feel and express that. Pay attention to warning signs such as heaviness in the heart area, tensed muscles, lightheadedness, cold shivers, and even physical cringing. Your physical warning signs will be unique to you (and can’t all be listed here), so search for them diligently.

2. Get your priorities straight. At the end of the day, what will TRULY fulfill you? Think about this question very carefully. Will you ultimately be happy with truckloads of followers, clients, money, or a lavish lifestyle, without feeling like you’ve stayed true to yourself? Money is important, don’t get me wrong. But how much money do you actually need in order to be happy and feel fulfilled? You might also like to explore what your main driving forces are: are you driven by power, success, fame, wealth or your individual and unique style, talents, passions, visions, and desires to make an impact? Focus on nailing down your main motivating force and ask yourself, “Is this healthy? Is this aligned with who I truly am?”

3. Explore inauthentic areas in your life. Intentionally carve out time and space to assess your life – that might even mean just sitting here as you’re reading this article and doing a bit of quiet reflecting. Think about areas in your life that you’re unhappy with. Have you lost your authentic voice in that area … or is the issue something else altogether? This process takes honesty. Write down every choice, commitment, and behavior that feels out of alignment with your deepest passions, perspectives, and values.

4. Make the hard choices. Once you’ve identified the inauthentic areas of your life, it’s time to act. You will need to carve out a plan — possibly multiple plans — to regain a sense of personal integrity. Ask yourself questions such as, “What must absolutely go and what can stay?” “What is true to me and what is false?” “What options do I have?” “What is the potential loss and gain in this situation?” “What is the best scenario and worst scenario?” “What is my plan A and plan B?” “What am I clinging to for dear life?” Use a tool like journaling to help you get out your thoughts, feelings, and plans in a coherent, organized, and structured way.

5. Integrate the experience with self-compassion. Once you have made the necessary change, it’s time for reflection. How did it feel to make such big (or small) changes? What parts of you felt threatened? What did you find it easy to let go of and difficult to surrender? How does it feel to walk your own genuine path? How can you avoid making inauthentic decisions in the future? These are all the kind of vital questions you’ll benefit from asking and exploring. Most importantly, integration is about accepting our humanness and all the frailty that comes along with it. Embrace your mistakes, forgive yourself, and let your hard-earned lessons make you stronger and wiser.

In this loud, confusing, and overwhelming world, it can be easy to slip into the role of selling out your integrity and authenticity to gain power, fame, or money. We are bombarded with messages from the media, social media, our colleagues, and even our friends and family members to be anything other than what we are. But in order to live fulfilled and soul-driven lives, we need to put a firm foot down. We need to learn when to say “no” and forcefully draw the line and protect our integrity.

I hope this article has inspired you to preserve your artistic vision, inner values, or deeply held passions. What makes life beautiful is how unique and varied it is. I hope you share your own unique flavor of authenticity with the world!

What is your experience with selling out? Do you have any tips to share surrounding integrity and authenticity?

Finally, I’ll leave you with a final quote. Tell me in the comments, do you agree or disagree with this statement below?

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

~Andre Gide

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

MATEO SOL: “6 Signs You’re Experiencing Spiritual Maturity”

In our society, we have a very two dimensional understanding of maturity. Most people define it as an accumulation of experiences that come through the process of aging. But this isn’t really true.

The truth is that maturity has very little to do with our external experiences, and everything to do with our inner processing of the world. Yes, you might have experienced a lot of challenges and hardships in life, but if you weren’t present and aware of what was happening and the way in which it could help you to learn and grow, all of your experiences simply turned into moments where you unconsciously and emotionally reacted, not maturing at all.

While we have no control over aging, we do play a part in our ability to mature. Maturity is something that comes with conscious intent; something that evolves as we become more aware. It isn’t how “knowledgeable” or “smart” we are either, as knowledge is a product of past fears, mental patterns, memories, reactions and illusory concepts of the self.

Instead, true maturity is the state of being internally free enough to respond consciously, to be responsible enough to see the end result our thoughts, feelings and actions and how they will affect ourselves, others and the world at large.

Developing true maturity impacts so many different areas of our lives. Below I elaborate:

1. Maturity is Courageous

Maturity involves inner freedom and freedom is the result of having courage — the courage to think differently and behave differently.

In a society that considers “maturity” as the pursuit of careers, spouses, mortgages, children and materialism, it takes immense courage to truly be mature and to pursue a path with heart, reconnecting with our authentic selves.

2. Maturity is Honest

Many people avoid the truth of who they really are by piling on beliefs, labels and roles in their lives and clinging to them. However, the mature person, in their lifelong pursuit of self-discovery comes to see all the ways in which they deceive themselves into a false sense of being.

Common examples of spiritual immaturity involve avoiding the shadow elements of human nature, believing that we have transcended our “lower selves” and are in touch with our “higher selves” and confusing the fearful voices of our core wounds with our intuition.

3. Maturity is Loving

Most people’s idea of love is to love only to receive love. “I need you to love me so I can love you back” is not a very mature way of loving. To be mature means that you can love someone unconditionally, even if they don’t love you back because your own self-love is more than enough.

The spiritually mature person loves because the state of love expands their limited sense of self and reconnects them with the divine. They don’t just love to be reassured that they are lovable by another.

And if the other person is mature enough to love back the same way, the love becomes even more powerful.

You’ll often come across people that hold love as the highest possible spiritual form, which it is. But to experience that love you must first have attained the personal freedom and responsibility that is necessary to unconditionally love.

4. Maturity is Compassionate

Many religions will teach you to do “good” out of duty through pity and sympathy (both include feeling sorry for another because they are in a position inferiority to you), as opposed to empathy when you can feel and understand their pain as equals. Many are compassionate also out of the underlying stimulus and promise of “rewards” in the afterlife. However, this is completely destructive and a perfect example of immaturity.

The spiritually mature person doesn’t act from a place of dutifully needing “to do good” which is tainted with all kinds of unconscious desires such as self-gratification, power, prestige and control. To do any mature charitable act, our motivation must come from a place of inner peace and freedom.

5. Maturity is Forgiving

Resenting other people is addictive. It gives us a false sense of power by believing that we are protecting ourselves from getting hurt again, and we are on the “moral high ground.” It tricks us into an unhealthy sense of self-importance; “I’ll never forgive you. What you did to ME was UNFORGIVABLE.” It is yet another way in which our misery and self-pity make us happy.

True forgiveness, on the other hand, involves taking responsibility for ourselves and making the decision to no longer attempt to justify or attach ourselves to feelings of hatred and anger. We are aware enough to know how damaging such heavy feelings are to us and the quality of our lives.

6. Maturity is Accepting

Maturity involves knowing what you can change and accept that which you can’t. A person who lives in a constant state of conflict with the world is one who is enslaved to their own internal reactions. They are not free to respond.

I am often confronted by people who ask me how I can be so at peace with the state of affairs in the world; the injustice, the chaos, the inequality that saddens them to the point of depression or feeling like their sensitive natures don’t belong to this world.

This is closely tied with the forgiveness I mentioned above. I’m not OK with the injustice of the world, but I don’t resist it either. I’m aware enough to realize that change can never, and has never, come from an external system, but from an individual internal decision. To be able to help the collective maturity evolve I must first be able to accept and acknowledge the mess that we are in without resisting it and running away into my self-righteous ideals, without judging it and condemning others so as to make them defensive and lose receptivity to my message.

You can’t cure the turmoil of the world when you’re acting from a place of inner turmoil. The acceptance of yourself and acceptance of others is like learning how to flow in a stream without ending up like another solid pebble at the bottom of the river.

The spiritual awakening process of maturity is the beginning of the journey of inner blossoming; it is the beginning of the journey toward the fulfillment of your own potential. Coming to truly know that potential means knowing that you require equal part sun as you do soil in order to be grounded, but to dance in the wind as well.

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

MATEO SOL: “7 Gut Instincts You Should NEVER Ignore”

In order to fulfill your spiritual purpose in this life, you’ve got to walk the path less traveled.

And to walk the path less traveled, you have to embrace your inner wolf.

It is your inner wolf that will guard, guide, and protect you with courage, integrity, and intelligence.

But here’s the thing: in order to embrace your inner wolf, you’ve got to listen to your gut instinct.

The problem is that our gut instincts are often polluted by fears, prejudice, and mental clutter.

In this article, I want to share with you the seven gut instincts you should never ignore. You’ll also learn how to differentiate the voice of fear from the voice of primal wisdom.

What is the Gut Instinct? 

Your gut instinct is the physical reaction you have to the world around and inside of you.

When you experience an overwhelming “gut feeling,” your body is carrying out a primal response to subconscious information. The ultimate purpose of your gut instinct is to protect you. As your gut instinct is the most ancient and primal “sixth sense” you have, it is the one you can rely upon the most.

One example of your gut instinct in action would be deciding to spontaneously avoid walking down a road at night because something “feels off.” That feeling is your gut instinct warning you that danger is afoot. You may then glimpse an intimidating gang of men down the street as you hurry by — your gut instinct has just saved you from potentially being robbed, beaten up, raped, or worse.

How Does Gut Instinct Work? (and Why You’re an Animal)

Put simply, your body is like the television screen on which your subconscious (the radio waves) transmits its information. When you can learn to read your body, you can learn to accurately tune in to your gut instinct.

We human beings like to believe ourselves to be separate from animals. Yes, we might be more sophisticated. But at our core, we are still animals — human animals. Our primal impulses and evolutionary origins don’t just disappear because we sit and read the newspaper each morning or wipe our asses with lavender-scented toilet paper.

As noted by anthropologist Clifford Geertz:

… man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.

Rather than get hoity-toity about the fact that we’re only really advanced animals, why not embrace it? By honoring the wisdom of the subconscious mind and its impact on the body to produce ‘gut instinct’ we can save ourselves from a lot of suffering. (This has been proven by the way.)

What’s the Difference Between Gut Instinct and Intuition?

Gut instinct and intuition are often used synonymously. And, yes, they are interconnected. But they aren’t quite the same.

So what’s the difference?

Put simply, gut instinct is your primal wisdom. Intuition is your spiritual wisdom. We need both if we are to walk our spiritual paths with courage and intelligence.

Intuition is very cerebral — it is a calm and clear sense of “knowing.” On the other hand, gut instinct is very visceral and physical — you feel it in your body.

Intuition can be expressed through the body, and the gut instinct can be expressed through intuitive knowing. But generally, both are clearly discernable and strikingly different in their experience.

Also, gut instinct is much more emotional and reactive (as it is wired in the primal brain), whereas intuition is more neutral and calm.

Examples of Gut Instinct

Some call it a “hunch,” others an “inkling,” but in this article, we’ll refer to it as the gut instinct. Here are some examples that are taken from the animal kingdom and human (animal) behavior of gut instinct:

  • A herd of zebra sense danger while grazing. They cannot see the lions lurking in the surrounding savannah, but something is distinctly “off.” One zebra whinnies and the herd begins galloping away vigorously.
  • A herd of elephants meander through the deserts in search of water. Instinctively they know what direction to move in to find their sustenance.
  • A cat sits on the edge of a three-story house and wants to find a way down. She slinks over to the edge and stares at the ground apparently about to jump — but then changes her mind. She climbs down to the first story roof and then makes the jump, apparently aware on an instinctual level that jumping from any higher distance would injure her.
  • A person approaches you at a bar wanting to flirt with you. You start reciprocating, but something feels wrong. You sense a predatory quality about this person. You don’t trust them. You excuse yourself and leave.
  • Two hikers get lost on a trail within the mountains. Without a compass or any way to determine a direction back to camp, they sit silently and tune into the surrounding trees. Suddenly one of them points to the west, “I have a feeling that is the way back!” An hour later they have made it back to home base.
  • You’re driving down a highway at night. Suddenly, the impulse overtakes you to change lanes immediately. You obey the impulse, and a couple of seconds later miss a large spike of glass that could have punctured your tire and rendered you stranded on the side of the road.
  • A young woman is sitting in class at college. Out of the blue, she feels the strange impulse to return home. She ditches the class and catches a taxi, a pit of dread looming in her stomach. When she arrives home, she finds her mother on the floor having a heart attack. If she had ignored her gut instinct, her mother would have most likely died alone.
  • A man has two job offers. One of them pays less, and the other pays more. Logically he would choose the job that pays more, but he can’t shake the knot of dread that forms in his stomach every time he considers accepting the higher paying offer. He decides to choose the job that pays less. Two months later, he is relieved that he chose the right offer as the higher paying company went out of business due to a high profile lawsuit.

I hope you now have a good idea of how the gut instinct operates!

Signs You’ve Experienced a Gut Instinct

Pay attention to these signs:

  • A sudden feeling of dread or fear (that is out of context)
  • A strong urge to do something (feels like an inner nudge or pull)
  • Full-body chills, goosebumps or “tingles” up the spine
  • Nausea or physical uneasiness
  • Sudden hypervigilance (or being on “high alert”)
  • A clear and firm voice within you instructing you to do/not do something

You might experience all of these signs at once or only one or two of them.

Is it Fear? Or is it Your Gut Instinct?

Don’t get them confused!

But also, don’t worry if you have already. Chances are you were never taught about the difference between superficial mental fears and true gut instinct.

The mind can easily fool us, particularly when it comes to gut instinct. After all, we feel our emotions within our body. When you’re scared, you most likely get clammy hands, butterflies, and an increase in heart rate, right?

In a similar fashion, when we experience a gut instinct, we also receive physical sensations.

So how on earth can we distinguish between the two?

My response is to pay attention to your mind. What is the quality of your thoughts? Is your mind racing, frantic, or chaotic? If so, you are experiencing fear.

On the other hand, if your mind is relatively neutral, but your body is experiencing strong reactions (like a sense of impending doom for instance), you are experiencing a gut instinct.

In other words, when you need to distinguish between the voice of fear and your gut instincts, always turn your attention to your mind.

Why?

Gut instincts are spontaneous — they arise out of the blue. They don’t have time to build-up in the brain, therefore, the brain is relatively still and neutral. There is no “hmm, should I? Shouldn’t I?” going on. There is just an immediate DO THIS/DON’T DO THIS.

Fears, on the other hand, build-up. They are typically more vague, nagging, unclear, and tumultuous. If your mind is spinning, if your thoughts are everywhere, you are experiencing fear, not gut instinct.

7 Gut Instincts You Should NEVER Ignore

Obviously, you must be the judge. But there are some situations in life where your gut instincts shine the most.

While it’s easy to brush off most nagging sensations, please never ignore the following ones:

1. “I’m in danger”

Remember that your gut instincts reflect what your subconscious mind already knows. Although you may not be able to pinpoint what exactly the danger is, please listen to this inner warning. It could be the difference between life and death.

2. “They’re in danger”

Yes, you might sound like a lunatic. Yes, you might feel embarrassed or perplexed. But if you genuinely feel that someone is in danger, tell them. You have nothing to lose. You might just prevent the person from making a big mistake or endangering themselves.

3. “This isn’t the right choice”

If you get a strong and clear feeling that what you’re doing isn’t right, pay attention. Even if there is no moral or logical reason why you should be feeling that way, take heed.

4. “I need help”

Your gut instinct doesn’t only warn you of danger, it also helps to preserve your emotional wellbeing. If you receive a strong sensation that you need help (whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually), seek it out. Don’t linger.

5. “I need to help them”

At some point in our lives, the overwhelming desire to help someone will arise. There may not be any rational reason why. The other person may appear to be perfectly fine on the surface. But don’t let appearances deceive you. Have a conversation with the person. Ask them how they are. This might make you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable, but you will at the very least make the person feel special, and at the most potentially save their lives.

6. “Something feels off in my body”

Unless you’re a hypochondriac (which is unlikely), your gut instincts rarely lie about the state of your health. If a sudden strong and clear desire arises to see a medical professional, do it. Get a full health assessment, and even if nothing comes up, feel proud of yourself for practicing self-care.

7. “This is it!”

Often when the perfect life calling, spiritual path, job, house, decision, option, etc. comes along, your gut instinct will immediately notify you. If you receive a strong and clear feeling that practically screams “YES” don’t ignore it! This is one of the most important reasons why it’s essential to listen to your gut instinct. It could be the difference between making a life-fulfilling choice and a soul-starving decision.

Trust Your Gut

So long as you’re able to distinguish between the voice of fear and the spontaneous feelings of your gut instinct, it is safe to trust your gut.

Trusting your instincts is an invaluable life skill and one that will tremendously benefit you on the spiritual path. After all, this instinct is built into our very DNA, so why not make the most use out of it?

As a final recommendation, I suggest practicing mindfulness meditation if you struggle to trust your gut. Mindfulness meditation will help you to become aware of your thoughts and body sensations. The more awareness you can develop, the easier it will be to make the distinction — it will become second-nature to you.

 

~via LonerWolf.com

MATEO SOL: “11 Traps That Sabotage Spiritual Growth”

“No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain.”

~Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

 

Spiritual growth is an experience we all go through once we have experienced the spiritual awakening process. As we begin to awaken to the truth of who we are, we develop a connection to our authentic essence, higher nature or Soul.

As we progressively advance on our paths, our spiritual essence begins to blossom like a luminous flower deep in our heart. And the more we clear away the dead, gnarled and overgrown beliefs, perspectives, and emotional baggage within us, the more clearly we feel our divine essence. When we maintain our inner garden, we feel more and more love, wisdom, peace, and wholeness as our True Nature is revealed slowly to us.

Yet, like any garden, our metaphorical inner landscapes can be consumed by weeds, plagues, and forms of pollution that strangle anything beautiful we have been nurturing. Sometimes, we even sabotage the growth occurring within us ourselves, without knowing it.

What is Spiritual Growth?

“This isn’t a journey about becoming something.  This is about unbecoming who we are not.”  

~Adyashanti, The End of Your World

 

Spiritual growth is the process of awakening to your true nature, purpose, and potential. When you undergo spiritual growth you experience an expansion in awareness and insight, also known as higher consciousness. All spiritual growth has one objective: to help you embody your Soul, Higher Self or Atman. Once you are able to unite with your Soul, you will experience what is understood as enlightenment, “heaven,” Oneness or moksha.

The problem with the spiritual journey is that it is often laden with traps of many kinds. These traps are not physical, but they are instead mental and are often referred to as anti-awakening forces.

As we process life primarily through the mind, we also tend to approach spirituality with the mind. The issue with this is that spirituality cannot be contained by the limitations of thought. Once spirituality is captured within a thought, it ceases to maintain its true essence and instead becomes a constricting belief or dogma. In other words, spirituality loses its alive, ever-flowing essence once it is compartmentalized within the mind.

Think about it this way: have you ever felt immense awe and wonder in the presence of something beautiful and enchanting like a sunrise? The moment you stop immersing yourself in the feeling of the sunrise, and start taking a photo of it or describing it in a text message, is the moment you are no longer truly present with the sunrise. Instead, you are filtering it through your thoughts or through a lens of some kind. The same can be said with spirituality.

The more we use the mind to approach our Soul, the further our Soul feels. But the moment we drop our thoughts and allow ourselves to purely feel our Soul, suddenly we feel at home once again. Think of it like this: when you chase the sun on the horizon thinking you will reach it, you never will, because it is an illusion. But when you stop and feel the sun’s presence shining on your skin already, you will no longer chase anything.

It is difficult for us, as mind-oriented beings, to become conscious of our thoughts, as we have been conditioned to identify with them since a young age. But once we can observe our thoughts and how they tend to sabotage our happiness, we will experience true spiritual growth.

11 Traps that Sabotage Spiritual Growth

Below I want to share with you eleven of the most common traps that we fall into on the spiritual path. I have personally experienced these pitfalls many times, and they have resulted in a lot of pain and struggle. See how many of these traps you can identify with:

1. The trap of spiritual bypassing

Spiritual bypassing is the practice of using spirituality to avoid, suppress or escape from certain emotions or situations in life. Common types of spiritual bypassing include:

  • numbing one’s emotions through “spiritualized” repression and avoidance
  • unhealthy obsession and attachment to the positive (e.g. positive thinking) and adopting a passive-aggressive “nice” mask
  • debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow self
  • anger-phobia
  • weak personal boundaries
  • blind or excessively tolerant compassion (to the detriment of oneself and the other)
  • forcefully trying to “kill” the ego and condemning it as “bad/evil”
  • exaggerated detachment
  • getting stuck in theoretical spirituality and dogmatic beliefs about “truth”
  • denial of self-responsibility by placing it on another higher being (e.g. spirit guide, angel)
  • delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being
  • using spiritual practices to escape unpleasant emotions; for example, using meditation to dissociate from emotions, rather than transmute them

2. The trap of superiority

This manifests as the tendency to “look down” upon others who are not as “consciously advanced” or “awakened.” The trap of superiority can be seen as a subtle feeling of “being better” than others who aren’t “spiritual.” In more extreme cases, this trap can appear as the tendency to lash out at people who are still “asleep,” “blind” or “sheep” of society. This kind of reactive behavior can often be seen in people who have just “woken up” to the state of the world, yet have undergone minimal spiritual growth. We need to remember that everyone is doing the best they can at their level of consciousness. When the time comes, they will awaken too.

3. The trap of forcefully trying to wake others up

Once we have awoken out of the “matrix” it is common for us to desperately want our loved ones and fellow peers to awaken. We can see how much pain and delusion other people are in, and that riles up in us the intense desire to “show them the truth.” However, often our attempt to forcefully awaken people misfires quickly. Even though we have good intentions, our desire to “save” others causes them to backlash in ways that infuriate both them and us. The less responsive they are to our pushy attempts to “wake them up,” the more frustrated and alienated we become. Eventually, trying to force others to wake up ends up harming both ourselves and others. Not only that, but this trap generates a lot of anger and misunderstanding, which results in further ego ensnarement, sabotaging our spiritual growth. Let people wake up when they are ready.

4. The trap of wanting to help others

This trap is closely entwined with the previous trap except it is more geared towards giving others advice. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help others, as long as you respect their boundaries. But sometimes developing an expanded spiritual perspective gives the ego an opportunity to feel more “knowledgeable” than others still trapped in illusion. When unsolicited advice is given to others, the results can be disastrous (think anger, upset, offense etc.).

Wanting to help others can also be used as a way of escaping our need to help ourselves. Under the guise of being “spiritual” and compassionate, helping others can be just another form of spiritual bypassing.

5. The trap of wanting to revolutionize the world

Once we wake up to the lies and corruption present in our current societal structure, many of us want to desperately change society. We fall into the trap of thinking that freedom, honesty, and justice can be created by changing the external system. As a result, we buy into the “us versus them” and “divide and conquer” mentality that is a product of the ego’s tunnel vision. We don’t realize that we’re actually fuelling the corrupt system which depends on anger and chaos to thrive and survive. Instead of understanding that all true change comes from an internal revolution, we get caught up in the pursuit of external revolution which is fragile and transient.

6. The trap of meaninglessness

Once we experience divine and transcendent states of being in which we become One with all, we can fall into the trap of spiritual nihilism after the experience passes. In other words, once we realize, from the perspective of the Universe, that nothing we do ultimately matters because all is passing, we can fall into a depressive mindset. Using truths such as “All is an illusion,” the person who falls for this trap tends to filter life through the mind. By mentally clinging to these truths, they become beliefs that the ego uses as an excuse to paradoxically feel separate from existence.

7. The trap of avoiding everyday responsibilities

Some people get so infatuated with the spiritual path that they avoid dealing with ordinary, everyday affairs. This form of escapism can lead to leeching off others, not paying bills, evading taxes, obsessing with “living off the grid,” etc. When avoiding everyday responsibilities is worn as a badge of being consciously elevated or “more spiritual” this too is a form of egotism in disguise. Avoiding ordinary responsibilities which are not perceived as being “spiritual enough” can also be a form of distraction that the ego uses to limit spiritual growth. The more concerned and obsessed you are with living an outwardly “spiritual” looking life, the more distanced from your inner work you become. Sometimes we need to feed the sharks to keep the calm and live balanced lives.

Remember the old Zen saying: “Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water; after Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.” We need to be humble and recognize that ordinary daily life is the perfect place to spiritually grow and mature.

8. The trap of self-victimization

Soon after we experience a spiritual awakening and wake up to the insanity of the world, it is common for us to get stuck in self-victimization. We may start to perceive the world as a “prison” and other people as the “captives” or even “capturers.” The shock of awakening may send us spiraling into anxiety and paranoia. Inevitably, we may start feeling like victims resulting in us blaming other people and the higher powers for how we feel. The spiritual trap of self-victimization can be seen a lot on social media which often tends to become a pity party for spiritual fledglings. At the end of the day, we need to see that it is actually our thoughts that cause us to suffer, not other people or situations. Once we can take self-responsibility for our perspectives and beliefs, we can become empowered once again.

9. The trap of the Savior Complex

This trap is related to the previously mentioned trap of wanting to help others. The Savior Complex is adopted by people who feel a sense of superiority to the rest of humanity. Their sense of being “different” and more “spiritually elevated” can make them feel as though they are destined to fix the world. The Savior Complex can most often be seen within the “lightworker/Starseed/healer” circles who tend to put themselves up on pedestals, believing it is their cosmic duty to “save the planet.” This perception aligns with the belief that there is something “wrong” with reality and that other people are “broken” and need to be fixed (which is an ego perspective). This perception also reinforces the ego’s sense of “specialness” and self-importance.

The Savior Complex can go one step further and evolve into a Martyr Complex. Martyrs believe they must “bear the burdens” of others. Obviously, this is an extremely unhealthy way of living which is based on Christian conditioning (think of the story of Jesus). By “carrying” other people’s pain, Martyrs bypass taking responsibility for their own happiness and enable other people’s immature behavior. Read more about the Martyr Complex.

10. The trap of attachment

After experiencing profound and expansive mystical experiences which often come after significant spiritual growth, it is common for us to attach to the experience. It can be painful to come down from these experiences and return back to usual, unenlightened reality. We can also attach to our “stories” and beliefs about spirituality. Because the mind tries to make sense of this transcendent experience, it will often latch onto various ideas as a form of control. But the more we attach to our beliefs, stories, desires, and mental interpretations, the more we suffer. We forget that everything passes, even transcendent experiences. Enlightenment isn’t a destination, it is a complete surrender; a fundamental shift in the way we approach life.

Attachment is perhaps the most common trap that sabotages our spiritual growth. On one hand, attachment to ideas helps us to grow, but ultimately, those ideas that we are unwilling to let go of end up stagnating our growth. When ideas become protection blankets rather than catalysts for our growth, there is a big problem. We need to realize that freedom cannot be experienced through the mind. Freedom is felt when we can be liberated from attachment to our thoughts.

11. The trap of relying on external answers

As we progress through our spiritual paths it is normal, and beneficial, for us to seek out external support. Reading books, attending workshops and seminars, going to retreats, practicing holistic techniques, and getting a personal guru all help us experience spiritual growth. However, after a while, it is common for us to become too dependent on external answers for our freedom and happiness. This pitfall can be seen in many spiritual seeker’s obsession and glorification of their gurus (in other words, projecting and disowning their divinity onto another).

Eventually, as we become accustomed to constantly searching outside of ourselves for answers, we forget the presence of our own Souls. We forget that our ultimate source of guidance and wisdom comes from within us, and instead, we keep chasing things outside of ourselves that we believe will “enlighten” us.

We need to stop, pause, and reflect on our spiritual journeys. Are we seeking out first-hand experience or second-hand experience given to us by others? Don’t forget to look within for your answers as well because it is by connecting with your Soul that you will ultimately experience freedom.

Final Thoughts

In order to see through and extricate ourselves from these traps, we need to be radically honest with ourselves. We need to be willing to see that we have indeed gone astray and have fed into the ego. We will also immensely benefit from exploring our Shadow Selves and exploring our mistaken beliefs.

Don’t worry if you have fallen into any of these traps. We all become ensnared by the ego. It can be particularly difficult for us to see clearly when the ego “spiritualizes” certain beliefs and ideas. The more open, humble, and honest you are, the more you will be able to see through these tricks and liberate yourself.

Finally, don’t be afraid of the dark. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. Everything, no matter how painful, is a learning opportunity. At the end of the day, your Soul is everything you have been searching for.

If you have any extra thoughts or insights about traps that sabotage spiritual growth, please share below. I would also love to hear your own journey.

 

~via WakeUp-World.com

MATEO SOL: “6 Ways You Hinder Your Self-Growth Without Knowing It”

Our “self-esteem” is a very delicate illusion. We are so off-centered when it comes to locating the origin of our self-worth, that the smallest realization of an imperfection in ourselves can bring up all kinds of insecurities.

When a person begins working with their soul, they will start through self-exploration to gain energy, vitality, and clarity. They will also, however, notice the ‘shock’ of beginning to see their own unconscious selves and their deep inner fragmentation (e.g: all your sub-personalities).

These contradictions within ourselves that speak of who we truly are beyond the social and cultural conditioning in our lives, are humbling, but more importantly, they can also be disturbing. If we were to discover and consciously become aware of all these contradictions at once, the shock would be so great we would most likely go insane.

Our brains have a limited capacity to process all the intellectual and sensory information that we encounter at any given moment, and because of this the unconscious mind exists. In essence, the unconscious mind is a psychological “buffer” which is a part of the brain that stores all the unprocessed information the conscious mind can’t handle.

The unconscious mind works as a shock-absorber, and in psychology this is known as a “defense mechanism”. There are an infinity of defense mechanisms going on within us at any given moment, but these are some of the most common I’ve observed in our practices:

Innocent Bystander

One of the greatest hindrances in anybody’s journey of self-growth is to fool themselves into thinking they haven’t done anything wrong. This may be why the recovering addict’s first step is to acknowledge they have a problem. Most people live in denial or avoidance of exploring themselves because it keeps them from properly recognizing their more unsavory traits and capacities.

“The world is screwed up but I’m completely guilt free” is their basic outlook on life. They refuse to see the interconnection between their actions and lifestyle with the external world around them.

Innocent Critic

This defense mechanism is very similar to the Innocent Bystander, only this one avoids guilt by actively criticizing the world and people around them. Criticizing is our way of rebelling against society and wanting to find a way out, of wanting to be outside of the ‘herd’ while still feeling a sense of false participation.

Critical thought is a necessary instrument in any persons self-growth. But often these “critics” use critical thinking as way of boosting their ego, to feel smarter than the ‘herd’ who haven’t realized what the critic has. Unfortunately, noticing what’s wrong with the state of affairs of the world isn’t enough unless you actively apply a solution to the problem. It’s the essential difference between the paths of self-discovery and self-understanding.

Suppression

Unquestionably, a major obstacle in living a fulfilling life to the maximum of your potential is your inability to be authentic to yourself (it’s the key element in Self-Love). All too often we live with an inner tension of controlling desires that we fear will be socially unacceptable. Let’s say you like a movie or a song that you know your friends don’t like, or maybe you are attracted to someone you know everyone will disapprove of, so you suppress that feeling.

The suppression won’t make the feeling go away, in fact, what happens is that you might be so good at suppressing the feelings that your unconscious mind learns to switch between your authentic self (“I like this person or thing”) to your false sub-personality (“I don’t like the person or thing anymore”).

In the end, the unconscious defense mechanism of “suppression” is protecting you from experiencing confusion as to whether you like something or not by jumping from one extreme to the other. Not only does suppression hinder your self-growth, but it can also contribute towards emotional, psychological and physical repression resulting in a host of sicknesses.

Repression

Repression differentiates from suppression in one important way. While suppression is initially a conscious process of having a desire and learning to avoid or ignore is, repression is an entirely unconscious process.

For example, you might have had a traumatizing experience as a child that unconsciously affected your feelings towards whatever the experience involved. This unconscious defense mechanism basically serves to protect you from feeling pain or other difficult emotions connected to the memories of what is being repressed.

Sometimes, religious beliefs or social conditioning can be so strong that desires that would normally be consciously suppressed (such as sexuality for instance), become automatically unconsciously repressed. You don’t even become aware of what exactly were the desires of your original authentic self, and this makes you completely out of touch with your true self. This self-denying defense mechanism makes it very difficult to learn and cultivate Self-Love.

Reactive Extremes

In psychology the technical term is “reactive formation”, and this is something you’ll observe everywhere. The nature of the unconscious mind is that it requires absolute certainties — it needs to see the world in black or white. There is no grey, or “in between”.

Many people who had a very strict religious upbringing for example, grow older and become disillusioned with the dogmatic ideas they’ve been taught. These people unconsciously find atheism a very attractive option, and become fanatical anti-God advocates, almost dogmatically. Another example of a reactive extreme is the person who finds it difficult to deal with, or understand, other people, and as a reaction decides to become a hermit and go live in the mountains.

Going to reactive extremes can also be illustrated in the case of sour grapes (or the false pretense that we don’t care for something we really do care for, which can be illustrated in the Fox and the Grapes fable). In this situation, our unconscious mind realizes that we are fixated on a certain topic so it protects us by going from one extreme to the other, e.g. from love to hatred.

Blameless Victim

I’m sure we’ve all come across an angry victim of life, someone who blames other people or the world for their difficulties. But everyone uses blame as a defense mechanism to some extent. In truth, what we’re defending ourselves from is our own responsibility for dealing with the unpleasant experience we’ve been given.

To indulge in blame is to give up personal responsibility and mentally delegate it to someone else, convincing ourselves that we are not responsible for the state of our lives, instead blaming it on some “outside force”. The blameless victim mechanism blocks us from seeing clearly just how we are contributing to our own suffering.

Essentially, the blameless victim is one of the fiercest protectors of our ego. It causes us to feel that we’re never failing ourselves, or that we lack the maturity or strength to come to terms with the reality of the situations we’re confronted with. Whatever happened is not evidence of our own inadequacy, but of someone else’s.

Have you observed any defense mechanisms in yourselves or in others? Let me know in the comments below!

 

~via Wake-UpWorld.com