Don’t get me wrong – spirituality is a good thing. In today’s world, most people could benefit from becoming more in touch with their spirituality, not less. In my practice, however, I see ways that new age spirituality is hurting people. Here are things to look out for:
1) You believe that by thinking positively or by saying affirmations, life will follow your whims and dictates. In psychology, we call this ‘magical thinking.’ In reality, it takes a lot of hard work to accomplish your dreams, to live the life to which you aspire. Thinking right is an important part of the process, but it is only the very beginning.
2) You take the idea that ‘you create your own reality’ a little too far. I see people who are full of self-blame and loathing because they hate themselves for their childhoods or for the way their lives have turned out. This line of taking full responsibility can be helpful, but there are limits. A world outside of us exists. Many cancers are caused by toxins in the environment. The children in the Sudan who had their arms chopped off in the war weren’t creating that reality for themselves – someone very cruel was forcing it on them.
3) You believe that the light can exist without the dark, or that the light is the only thing of value. Many people are searching for a simple solution to become happy all the time which can lead them to deny their more difficult feelings, such as grief or anger, thinking them to be ‘not spiritual.’ On the contrary, these more difficult feelings serve a purpose, often letting us know when we are off track, when we have hurt someone, or when a change in our behavior is needed. The attitude of discounting the dark can lead to addiction – always looking for a high.
4) You don’t do your psychological work because you believe it will just go away if you’re spiritual enough. You believe that meditating more will cure your depression, or that doing more yoga will cure your relationship problems. You don’t understand the difference between psychology and spirituality, or that freeing yourself of your personal blocks can actually accelerate your spiritual growth. There are therapists who specialize in psychotherapy for spiritual people like here at The Transpersonal Counseling Center. Getting the help you need from a psychotherapist who understands the special needs of the spiritual path can be a life-changing step on your personal journey.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth