Bypassing means avoiding uncomfortable sensations and thoughts.
The sensations seem uncomfortable because of the imaginations associated with them. Thoughts give meaning to sensations.
And the imaginations, the mental pictures and words, seem real and solid because of the sensations associated with them. Sensations give a sense of solidity and charge to thoughts.
When we bypass, we do so because the sensations seem scary and the thoughts connected to them seem scary. We would rather not be reminded of them.
There is almost an infinite number of ways we can bypass. Although we typically do it with the help of stories and distractions, whether these distractions are external or internal or both.
We can distract ourselves with compulsive….
Entertainment, work, exercise, socializing.
Food, sex, alcohol, drugs.
Rationalizing, analyzing, understanding.
Going into future thinking, whether it’s scary or hopeful. Going into past thinking, whether it’s enjoyable or painful.
Getting caught in the drama of our own stories. It may seem that getting caught in the drama is feeling the sensations and looking at the mental images and words, but it’s actually a distraction from resting with them in presence.
Going into comforting stories about life and ourselves. These may also be “spiritual” stories saying there is nobody here to suffer, everything is perfect as it is, all is Spirit, we’ll arrive at a peaceful place in the future. They may also be inflated stories about ourselves, to compensate for painful deficiency stories.
Seeking healing or resolution. When this becomes compulsive, and the main aim is to avoid discomfort, this too is a form of bypassing.
Some of these are very healthy if they are not compulsive. When they become compulsive, they can still be relatively healthy, and it’s also a sign that we are trying to avoid something.
Avoiding certain charged stories and sensations is something we all do. It’s completely natural, understandable, and innocent. It’s a safety valve built into our system.
Sometimes, it can be quite healthy to avoid certain things in us. To not bypass may be beyond what we are capable of in the moment or situation. And if we are forced to not bypass, and have to do it in a way that’s less than safe and skilled, it tends to lead to retraumatizing.
I should also mention that I don’t really like the term bypassing. It’s often used with a hint of judgment. And although I have used the word in this post, since it’s something many are familiar with, I rarely use it otherwise.
- avoiding uncomfortable sensations, bc of the stories attached to them
- many ways we do it, typically with the help of stories – going into stories
- distraction – externally and/or internally
- telling ourselves it’s all ok, going into justification, blame, drama etc.
- going into spiritual stories – nobody here, everything is perfect as is, it will all be good in the future
- going into future thinking – either scary or hopeful
- going into compulsive healing/resolving with the intention of making it go away
The sensations remind us of the scary stories, and
Some of these are very healthy if they not compulsive. When they become compulsive, it’s a sign that we are trying to avoid something.
I don’t really like the term bypassing since I have often heard it used with a hint of judgment. I rarely use the term. What it refers to is completely natural, understandable, and innocent. It can even be healthy since to not bypass may be beyond what we are capable of in the moment or situation. If we are forced to not bypass in a way that’s less than safe and skilled, it tends to lead to retraumatizing.