Is it a bad idea to suggest that "lightening up" could be a good thing for someone suffering?
Some say it can be shame-inducing. Robert Augustus Masters, the passionate psychotherapist, author, and teacher of spiritually deepening practices, has made a terrific contribution to the discussion of an integral psychotherapy. Notwithstanding the many times I find his short writings on Facebook to be insightful, today I want to offer a counterpoint. One of Robert's major themes is the importance of not escaping the dark, shadowy side to human life in favor of a superficial escapism. He even coined the influential term "spiritual bypassing" for the phenomenon of using spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, and unresolved wounds.
Advising others to “lighten up” or be more positive can be shame-inducing, however nicely we might do it. What if they need to stay with their hate or despair or depressiveness for a while? How can we be sure that they'd be better off getting away from such states as soon as possible? Perhaps at such times we are ”” through our contact with their endarkened condition ”” starting to feel more in touch with such states in ourselves, and want the other to get away from their “darkness” so that we don't have to feel our own.
That's pretty heavy. Hey, Robert, lighten up, buddy! Just kidding!
What he says is true, but it is just as valid to say that advising others to "stay in heaviness" or embrace their negativity can encourage stuckness in useless emotional entanglements, a backhanded way of encouraging *ourselves* to feel such states. The flip side of "spiritual bypassing" is "shadow wallowing."
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