Nonduality: Binary Thinking and Divine Dichotomies

Nonduality: Binary Thinking and Divine Dichotomies

Nonduality: Binary Thinking and Divine Dichotomies

For those who haven’t heard me mention it before, I’m a follower of nonduality. Being a nondualist means that I recognize that the binary way that we perceive existence (black and white, good and evil, this and that) are not just merely two sides of the same coin, but in many cases are what Neale Donald Walsch termed “divine dichotomies,” where two seemingly opposing things can both be true, simultaneously–or–they cancel each other out and neither are true (which is, itself, yet another divine dichotomy…).

For example, a universal Truth: either EVERYONE is special, or NO ONE is special. Both are simultaneously true, it’s merely a matter of which way you choose to look at it. This is a divine dichotomy.

If everyone is, in fact, special, then it literally means that by definition, no one is. This is another divine dichotomy.

We live in a world of duality that tells us everything is an either/or… but what if it’s a yes/and?

Having a shit load of Mercury influence in my astrology chart (including a Gemini Ascendant, Chiron, and North Node, a third house Moon and Mars, a Virgo Sun, and a sixth house Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus), I have a knack for exploring and recognizing both (or many) sides of binary thinking and perceptions.

I saw an Instagram post a while back that was tackling toxic positivity and shaming of negative emotions that said, “Don’t look on the bright side. Don’t focus on the positive. Don’t see the good in everything. Don’t look at the silver lining.” etc. with the implication of “just be with where you are.” And then I saw another that argued there’s no need to “reframe” failure as an opportunity or learn something from it and instead, we can just be ok with failing. 

And I thought about it for a bit, and I thought, why not do both? Isn’t that the whole picture?

Why does acknowledging a shadow mean you can’t look at the silver lining? Why does seeing the good in everything mean you have to ignore the negative? Why does acknowledging a person’s awfulness mean that you can’t also acknowledge their inherent humanness? Why does sitting with our own emotions mean we can’t acknowledge those of the person who hurt us? It is, after all, a sign of emotional intelligence to recognize that other people have feelings, too. Even shitty people. Why do we think that we can only feel love OR hate? Why can’t we love someone AND hate them at the same time (I certainly have)?  Are our own feelings not complex enough to hold two seemingly opposing emotions simultaneously?

Why can’t we acknowledge how all-encompassing and complex our human experience is? Why do we have to oversimplify our experiences into one thing OR another? WHY CAN’T WE DO OR BE BOTH?!

This idea that we have the capacity to hold seemingly opposing perspectives and emotions simultaneously has been a theme that has come up for me several times in the last few months and I’ve noticed more and more how our world does not necessarily operate from that holistic point of view. I do, however, think that’s part and parcel to the spiritual journey to explore both ends of a spectrum until we eventually reach equilibrium. I know I have.

I think part of our goal in transcending the illusion of duality is to recognize how binary thinking shows up in our everyday life, begin to recognize when two things can be simultaneously true, and learn to expand our awareness and emotional capacity to encompass multiple perspectives and experiences.

Xo,

Ash

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Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

I‘ve never really bought into the concept that humans truly have free will, and there’s a variety of spiritually-based reasons for that, but one of the biggest reasons isn’t spiritual at all.

In order to have have free agency of our own will, we have to be a free thinker, and the truth is, very few of us actually are.

Humans, bizarre little ego-centric creatures that we are, believe that we have the freedom of choice in all that we do, as though we have total internal autonomy over what goes on inside our minds. And of course we would think that–we mistakenly believe that the rational mind is the king of our world.

Most of us spend very little time examining our motivations for the choices we make and the beliefs we hold, our biases, our fears, or put any kind of thought into how all of that unexamined subconscious shit informs our so-called rational choices.

Learn how to identify your belief systems

Reason vs. Logic

Humans are rational creatures, not logical creatures. Reason and logic are not the same thing.

All a rationale is, is an explanation about how you came to your conclusion. It doesn’t mean it’s the right conclusion, or that it’s a logical conclusion, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re being honest with yourself about your motivations, or that you understand the psychological factors that are driving your behavior.

People tell themselves all kinds of stories about why they do what they do. Many of them are lies.

True free will–and true free thinking–can only be found when we begin to uncover and understand our subconscious mind. Until then, we are susceptible to all kinds of bias, propaganda, and distorted belief systems.

As an acquaintance of mine on Instagram once wrote: if you’re not facing your shadow, you’re getting fucked by it. – @rainierwylde

Learn more about shadow work and it’s role in spirituality

PS – lots of you wanted me to open back up the question submission, so I’ve added that to the post footer. Can’t wait to see what your questions are!

Xo,

Ash

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Energy Polarity: How to Balance Feminine and Masculine Energies

Energy Polarity: How to Balance Feminine and Masculine Energies

Energy Polarity: How to Balance Feminine and Masculine Energies

Question from a reader:

“How do you balance masculine and feminine energies?”

This is a topic I’ve not covered much on my site at all, but haven’t touched on briefly in my Instagram stories, which received a lot of positive feedback. This question was submitted there and I thought I’d post my response here as well!

Firstly, for the readers who aren’t aware, everyone has masculine and feminine energy within them and it has absolutely nothing to do with gender or gender roles. Masculine and feminine energy exists within us as a spectrum. You might find yourself at any place on that spectrum throughout the day, and you probably find yourself somewhere on that spectrum as a baseline.

For a brief explanation about how that works and what it means, please read my encyclopedia entries on the divine feminine here and the divine masculine here.

Feminine and masculine energy as it presents within a human being can loosely be thought of as right brain qualities and left brain qualities, with some exceptions.

Being in your higher masculine energy might look like taking action, setting boundaries, strategizing, leadership, analyzing, or standing up for a cause. Being in your higher feminine energy might look like listening, holding space, feeling your emotions, feeling your intuition, nurturing someone, pleasure, or creativity. You ebb and flow through these states of being all day every day.

Being in your toxic masculine energy looks like domination, control, force–or–total avoidance, lack of accountability, zoning out, not being present, and irresponsibility. Being in your toxic feminine energy looks like unbridled rage, silent treatment, manipulation, victimhood, codependency, and insecurity.

When we talk about balancing these two energies, we do NOT mean having equal amounts of feminine and masculine energy, we mean balancing the shadow of each each energy. An imbalance in one energy creates an imbalance in the other, for example: when you’re toxic masculine energy avoids accountability, your toxic feminine energy responds with victimhood. Bringing one or the other of those energies into balance will automatically recalibrate the other.

Understanding which is which helps you cultivate more of what you need in any given moment. You might want to be in your masculine energy when you want to get shit done. You might want to be in your feminine energy when you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself or doing creative brainstorming and envisioning what you want to create.

That’s right–that vision that so many leaders and CEOs are lauded for? That’s their feminine energy. Their ability to execute that vision is their masculine energy.

Balancing these energies is done in the same way that everything else is done: through self-awareness, practice, and healing energy blocks. You may find that certain people’s energy inadvertently puts you in your masculine or your feminine. Pay attention to how you react to others. Are those reactions pleasant or are they uncomfortable? Maybe your inner-masculine needs to be more assertive and set boundaries. Or perhaps your inner-feminine needs to learn how to relax and surrender to the flow of life.

As I mentioned earlier, intuition is feminine energy. One of my tips for those looking to develop psychic abilities is to stop “trying” to make it happen (which is being in your masculine), and instead, release control and allow it to happen (which is relaxing into your feminine).

As I discussed in the previously linked articles, this energy is present not just in us as human beings, but in the universe as. a whole.

You can think of things like the collective as being a feminine energy because we are all connected by an unknown, unseen energetic bond and through our empathy for one another. You can think of the individual and the ego as a masculine energy because it’s based in what is tangible and rational.

When one or the other of these is out of balance, you get codependency and narcissism. When they are in balance, you have a healthy, harmonious individual–and a healthy, harmonious society.


I haven’t done a Q&A post in a really long time, in fact, I took the question submission box off of my site several years ago because people kept submitting the same questions over and over, and also submitting questions that they should have been asking someone in a psychic reading. But, it’s been a few years now and my content has pivoted quite a bit as well as my audience, so I’m considering opening the question submission form back up–this time I won’t respond to every question submitted, I’ll only pick the ones that that are on topics I haven’t covered or things that I think sound interesting. Is this something you guys would be interested in? Vote below!

Xo,

Ash

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How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

Since January, I’ve been “inspired” quite a bit to write about modern New Age spirituality’s relationship with narcissism, which is quite strong these days.

In my previous post “How Separation Consciousness Masks Itself In Spirituality” I talked about how Individualism in the West creates a me-centric version of spirituality which ignores the fact that we are co-creating with a collective, places the greatest emphasis on the self, and ultimately results in a form of overt spiritual narcissism/god complex where adherents believe they are literally the center of their own universe and everyone else on the planet is just something they manifested. This, of course, lends itself to a severe lack of empathy and social responsibility, because they then believe that everyone else on the planet has manifested their circumstances and simply need to change their thinking to manifest their way out.

A couple of weeks ago, I also posted in-depth about narcissistic empaths, how codependency is really a form of covert narcissism, and how this kind of “empath” and narcissism are actually two sides of the same narcissistic coin.

In today’s post, I’m taking all of these topics one step further and discussing how some very common concepts in New Age spirituality come from and create codependent mentalities.

What is Codependency?

Codependency: a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity.

Like with narcissism, there’s a lot to unpack with codependency and a lot of it overlaps, depending on the specific situation. The most important aspects of note with regard to spirituality are:

Codependents often feel responsible for how other people feel and that underlying feeling of distress (usually guilt or shame attached to the subconscious belief that they are the cause of the other person’s emotional state) pushes them to want to “fix” the other person’s emotions and thus, regulate the energy in the room.

This is often confused for empathy, but it’s important to distinguish that the codependent isn’t actually feeling the other person’s emotions or acting out of care or empathy, they’re driven by their own sense of shame and guilt and the underlying motivation is to alleviate their own uncomfortable emotions, not those of the other person. And this is why codependency can be considered another form of narcissism: because this action is driven by self-interest and the other person’s emotions are (subconsciously) seen as an extension of the self.

How Spirituality Can Breed Codependency

Similar to how certain concepts in spirituality can breed a form of narcissism, those same concepts can also breed codependency.

  • You are the absolute creator of your reality
  • You are responsible for all of your negative experiences
  • Your scarcity mentality is responsible for your financial situation
  • No one will love you until you love yourself

Each of these platitudes encourages extreme independence from reality. So what happens when you buy into this mentality, you work on yourself, and things in your life don’t magically shift?

You probably being to use your external reality as a measuring stick for how healed you are. And any time someone or some situation shows up that creates discomfort, you ask yourself, “What haven’t I healed?”

I caught myself doing this recently with a connection to someone who, for all intents and purposes, is toxic, but whose energy won’t seem to leave me alone. It actually started to drive me a little bit batshit. I had cut cords a thousand times. I had healed. I had grieved. I had released. I had forgiven. I had moved on. And yet, we are still psychically linked for inexplicable reasons, and it bubbles up to the surface periodically.

Then one night in the shower it occurred to me: it’s not me. I’m not the problem. I’m not the one hanging on–it’s them. They haven’t completed their end of this karmic bargain by cleaning up after the consequences of their actions.

I had a similar realization when I was trying to date and 90% of the men I met were still awful. I thought it was me–that I hadn’t healed enough yet to attract great men. I was taking all of the responsibility for the people that I was running into on the street, more or less. Every terrible interaction was somehow a reflection of what was wrong with me. The truth was…it wasn’t me. It was them. There’s just a lot of shitty men out there and my healing had no effect on that percentage. I just had a much lower tolerance for their bullshit.

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!

I’d momentarily forgotten that we are co-creating our reality and that I don’t have any control over other people (or the world, for that matter). I only have agency over myself.

This idea that we are the supreme manifestors of our life and our reality teaches us that we are responsible for the toxic, abusive people and situations that come into our lives, that those people are reflections of us and whatever is unhealed within us, and that somehow, through obsessive self healing, we’ll be able to change that, or in the case of a lot of Twin Flame trash, that we’ll be able to heal another person…(how’s that for codependent thinking). And when it doesn’t happen, how much guilt and shame do you feel over your inability to succeed?

The reality is that healing ourselves doesn’t change what kinds of people or situations come into our lives–we can’t control or manipulate people in that way, and it’s quite delusional to think that we can or do.

There’s a difference between using situations in our lives as opportunities for self-reflection, and assuming that every situation is a reflection.

Healing teaches us discernment, and how to not find ourselves attracted to those people and situations. It teaches us boundaries and self-respect. And when you implement those changes in your life, you’ll choose differently, and certainly more wisely. It doesn’t mean you won’t still have to wade through a sea of garbage people to find gold, because a lot of the people on this planet are still holding shit energy, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Xo,

Ash

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Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Let’s talk about fear.

In New Age spirituality, fear is probably the most demonized emotion. “Stop living in fear!” everyone likes to preach. And, you know, in some instances, this is a good thing to do. How many opportunities in life do we miss because we were simply afraid to take the risk and instead, stuck to our comfort zone?

In this case, the whole False Evidence Appearing Real narrative is somewhat correct. When we are afraid of failure, rejection, pain, of not being good enough, etc. it keeps us small. When we’re afraid of the boogeyman and things that go bump in the night, it keeps us on edge. Religion has used fear of Satan, Hell, and demons as a mechanism for control for centuries. All of these fears are based in total illusion or superstition with no foundation in reality.

Learn why fear-based beliefs are a distortion.

But there’s another kind of fear that has every basis in reality which serves as a biological survival instinct: fear of actual real and tangible danger. Like physical pain, without this evolutionary protection mechanism, the human race would be extinct. Fear in the face of clear and present danger is what keeps us alive.

Could you imagine telling a child not to look both ways before crossing the street because it’s considered “living in fear”? How about intentionally exposing yourself to a potentially deadly virus because wearing a mask was “living in fear”? Or maybe attempting to take a selfie with a wild buffalo at Yellowstone? You catch my drift. These are Darwin Award-worthy acts of stupidity, not conquering fear for any useful reason.

There’s a marked difference between fear-based beliefs and belief systems and actual bodily self-preservation.

Learn more about the difference between fear and danger.

On Pushing Through Fear and Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Some people pride themselves on getting out of their comfort zones, and certainly, if you do what you’ve always did, get you’ll get what you’ve always to gotten. But like anything, this all depends on context.

If you’re talking about doing something you’ve never done before, like uprooting your entire life to move across the country with no safety net, and that scares you, that’s an opportunity you might miss because of your comfort zone. It might be worth the risk.

If you’re talking about doing something you’ve never done before that might actually violate your personal values or expose you to harmful relationship dynamics, that’s a whole other ballgame. That’s risky behavior because you don’t recognize risk when you see it.

Sometimes our comfort zones exist because we’ve been severely traumatized, and pushing ourselves out of them too fast, too soon is just like the trauma that created them in the first place. This is harmful.

Sometimes, because of abuse, we don’t actually fully understand what our comfort level is. We ignore our discomfort because that’s what our abusers taught us to do, and when we come up against some similar, subtle, but potentially harmful experiences, we stick around too long, not realizing what’s happening until it’s too late.

Those with people-pleasing or codependent tendencies are not great at recognizing risk or when their boundaries are being violated, and a lot of folks think that pushing through this is somehow conquering their fear in the name of spirituality.

If you’re a recovering people pleaser, or have a history of trauma and abuse, I urge you to ignore the comfort zone messaging on Instagram when it comes to really personal things like relationships, sex, and things which are directly tied to your physical and emotional well-being.

Fear isn’t all bad. Fear is a useful emotion that alerts us of danger. Fear only becomes detrimental when it becomes overprotective.

Pay attention to your discomfort. Explore it. Honor it. Sometimes it’s all in your head. But sometimes it’s there for a reason.

Xo,

Ash

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Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

The Fine Line Between Boundaries and Bypassing

The Fine Line Between Boundaries and Bypassing

A while back I posted a story to my instagram saying that I wanted to start a game called “Boundaries or Bypassing?” where I’d have people submit screen caps of influencers blocking followers and saying it was “setting boundaries,” and we’d examine whether or not this was actually the case. That’s where the idea for this post originally came from.

The fact is, a lot of people are really terrible with boundaries, and a lot of people use boundaries as an excuse to avoid being held accountable, so we’re going to dig into that today.

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are defined as:

A psychological or physical demarcation that protects the integrity of an individual or group or that helps the person or group set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or activity.

In other words, boundaries are a set of internal guidelines you create (consciously or subconsciously) to promote a sense of internal safety and protect yourself from harmful people, behavior, and situations. The more conscious one becomes of what their boundaries are, the more likely they are to enforce them, and the more likely they are to maintain a healthy emotional state. To some degree, you can think of boundaries as your personal emotional and physical comfort zone.

Boundaries are also reflected in society through expectations of how one should behave in social situations as well as through laws and various other safety nets and measures.

How we define our personal boundaries is entirely dependent on societal expectations and how we were raised, but generally speaking, most humans have at least the same basic boundary requirements.

Boundaries and Abuse

Childhood abuse and societal trauma greatly impact our sense of personal boundaries as well as our ability to consciously enforce them. Those who have had their personal boundaries violated at a very young age, whether emotionally or physically, may overcompensate with extremely rigid boundaries, or, exhibit no real sense of when their comfort zones are being intruded upon by another person or situation. A person may also exhibit both types of boundaries in different situations, for example, upholding extremely rigid emotional boundaries for themselves, but not respecting the boundaries of another person in an equal manner.

People with no respect for another person’s personal boundaries and a pattern of violating those boundaries are considered abusers. Abusers often become abusers because they, themselves, had their boundaries violated as children and have never developed a healthy sense of where another person’s boundaries lie. Enmeshment is also common among those who did not learn healthy boundaries, and they may often engage in unhealthy, emotionally clingy, controlling, or manipulative codependent behavior.

A healthy sense of boundaries respects the line between “you” and “I,” and recognizes where “you” end and “I” begin. Healthy boundaries are also incredibly sensitive to power dynamics to ensure that the person or people in positions of power uphold and respect the boundaries inherent with those positions.

Learn what spiritual abuse looks like.

When a person has a history of abuse and has developed extremely rigid boundaries, they may be triggered by seemingly small, innocent things. In these instances, the person may not have yet established a clear boundary between themselves and others in regard to emotional responsibility, and as such, may project undue blame for their emotional state onto others.

Likewise, a person with a history of abuse that has developed extremely weak emotional boundaries may take on responsibility for the feelings of others and and attempt to manage those feelings by altering their own behavior. We call this people pleasing or fawning behavior. This is a coping mechanism often developed in childhood to protect themselves from someone with an explosive temper or an overly authoritative figure, such as the individual with rigid boundaries described above.

Abusing Boundaries

Now that we know what boundaries are and what abuse of boundaries looks like, we can dig into the ways some people may abuse the concept of setting a boundary as a form of emotional or spiritual bypassing.

Emotional bypassing is when someone attempts to avoid unpleasant emotions. When a person uses spiritual concepts to avoid those emotions, it becomes spiritual bypassing.

Here’s where things get tricky: people with rigid boundaries are often more reactive to unpleasant emotions than someone with a healthy sense of boundaries, or even someone who is used to taking on the responsibility for the emotions of others. As such, people with rigid emotional boundaries are more likely to engage in emotional bypassing, because the unpleasant emotions (typically feelings of guilt and shame) trigger a trauma response and bring forward unhealed emotional energy from their childhood.

This is the person on social media who shut down or block anyone who disagrees with them, challenges their ideology, or otherwise reflects back to them any of those buried feelings of shame.

When these folks are in the spiritual community, they’ll often say that they’re “just setting a boundary,” or even accuse the other party of “projection” but the reality is that their boundaries are an overcompensation that is preventing them from healing and personal growth.
This is especially problematic when the person in question is in a position of power or authority within the community, because their (unhealthy) behavior is setting an example to their followers.

I watched an example of this unfold last summer on Instagram with The Holistic Psychologist, Nicole LePere. Nicole has 3.3 million followers who look to her as an authority on spiritual psychology. During the racial justice protests, many influential figures on social media made statements in support of racial reckoning and of commitment toward examining their own racial bias. Nicole remained noticeably silent.

 

A client of Nicole’s, a Black woman, contacted her expressing her disappointment on the subject. Instead of demonstrating that she was paying attention to the conversation happening around her, or allowing the interaction to alert her to the possibility that she might need to pay attention to that conversation, Nicole remained tone-deaf and treated the client in question like she would any unhappy customer, further demonstrating a total lack of understanding about bias in general, as well her own, and a general unwillingness to examine said bias. Nevertheless, the client gave Nicole the benefit of the doubt, assuming she would now put in the effort to educate herself and her audience about the importance of the matter.

 

Instead, Nicole made a single post acknowledging the racial justice movement, made no indication of a commitment to understanding bias, no effort to educate her audience, and continued with business as usual.

 

The unhappy client then made a public comment on one of Nicole’s posts, and made a public instagram story about her experience. Other women, both Black and White, began confronting Nicole in the comments sections of her posts on the matter, many in perfectly reasonable tones and language. Nicole began blocking them all, including the original client, claiming she was “setting boundaries.”

I’m 100% certain that in Nicole’s mind, she was simply setting boundaries, which demonstrates a lack of self-awareness and total ignorance to the importance of examining bias. As a spiritual psychologist, this is incredibly problematic. You cannot teach something effectively if you haven’t attained any level of mastery. It also demonstrates a very real disregard for the things happening in the world around her, as well as a disregard for the lived experiences of her potential clients. You can’t expect to create a safe environment for your clients of color if you are not willing to examine and dismantle your own bias, and you can’t expect to be trusted if you’re not also willing to put in the work to make society a safer place for them. And finally, it sets an incredibly poor example for the 3.3 million people who are looking to you as an authority.

Learn about bias vs. bigotry vs. racism.

It would be one thing if she were to accept accountability and listen to the chorus of voices who were (and still are) trying to wake her up to herself, but instead, she continues to shut down the conversation and avoid it using boundaries as her shield. This is a clear example of spiritual bypassing.

What happens when you resist a lesson the universe is attempting to teach you? The problem persists. And it grows. The longer Nicole continues down this path, the more people are talking about it, and the more awareness is spreading. Other influencers have picked up on and joined the conversation in calling her out, some of them with their own audiences of nearly a hundred thousand.

This dynamic isn’t new and I’ve seen it all before. This is why I say that one sign of a spiritually immature wellness influencer is if they have an army of haters trolling their social media posts, or if they’re engaging in an online feud with another influencer. It’s typically indicative that there’s some kind of shadow energy being manifested that they are refusing to look at, and if that influencer’s entire platform is built around being an authority on doing shadow work, that’s a big problem!

Nuance Is Important

Naturally in some cases, there’s other reasons a person may be setting a boundary in that moment.

When it comes to social justice, I often see people take an all or nothing approach. “You must join us or else you’re with them.” Yes, in general, silence is complicity, but as with everything, there’s always exceptions. I saw some unnecessary and downright dangerous shaming happening last summer as well. Another mental health influencer I followed told her 60K Instagram followers that their mental health wasn’t an excuse and if they had PTSD, they needed to suck it up. And she brands herself as Trauma-Informed.

A few years ago I had someone convey a similar message to me when I was in the midst of an emotional breakdown/dissociative state where I could barely form a coherent sentence and spent most of the day laying in bed staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t have formulated a complete thought on anything of significance if I wanted to. I was physiologically incapable and every ounce of mental energy was spent on holding myself together. I have memory loss from that time period and also experienced a severely traumatic event which was not public knowledge.

Unlike Nicole, I also wasn’t carrying on with business as usual on my platform. It was public knowledge that I was going through some shit and my writing topics–however infrequently posted–shifted to an internal focus, and changed to self-reflection and processing my experiences. My blog became more of a personal journal at that point. I cocooned from literally everyone and everything–including the news–for nearly three years. I also stopped writing completely for almost a year.

I tried to explain to this person, as best I could with my limited capacity to think at the time, that I could not do what she was asking me to do. And that led me to have to set a boundary.

Also unlike Nicole, I wasn’t engaging with other influencers on Instagram promoting questionable ideologies that alluded to violence, anti-semitism, white supremacy, and QAnon.

How To Avoid Spiritual Bypassing

You can ask yourself a few questions and take a few actions when setting boundaries that can help you determine your motivation:

  • Pause and examine your emotional state. Ask yourself what emotions you are feeling. Name them. Is there shame underneath?
  • Which person is in a position of power in this dynamic? Is it you, or is it the other person?
  • Is the person triggering this feeling attacking your character (shame)? Or are they holding you accountable for your actions (guilt)?
  • Are you attempting to bypass accountability by setting a boundary? Or are you setting a healthy boundary because someone is actually shaming you?
  • Does this situation remind you of any past instances where you were abused? Does it evoke emotions from a painful memory?
  • Does setting a boundary result in the harm of the other person? (Healthy boundaries never harm someone else, even though an abuser will perceive it as such.)
  • Does NOT setting a boundary result in your own harm?

Answering these questions really requires us to dig into the nuances between shame, guilt, accountability, and what belongs to us and what doesn’t. They’ll give you a really clear idea, though, of what appropriate boundaries look like.

Xo,

Ash

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