Spiritual bypass involves bolstering our defenses rather than our humility. Bypass involves grasping rather than gratitude, arriving rather than being, avoiding rather than accepting. It serves as a protection and as a roadblock momentarily, intermittently, or pervasively.The primary consistent point throughout the book is that authenticity and honesty are key to longterm recovery. All too often, it is easy to equate "spiritual fitness" with the "happy, joyous an free" times in our lives. The danger inherent in this outlook is the assumption that during down times, we may assume we aren't spiritually fit, that we're down because we're doing something wrong. Mathieu points out that "a split has occurred between active addiction as tied to all things unpleasant and recovery being equated with all things grand." This outlook overlooks the simple fact that ups and downs are part of this life. Additionally, we all have positive and negative traits.
By tying spiritual fitness to a positive outlook, we miss out on essential components of ourselves and our experiences, limiting the extent of our recovery:
In the context of this book, integrating both the light and dark aspects of one's self is an essential component to experiencing a psychic change - psychological and spiritual recovery - in the program. Integrating the fullness of the human condition into one's spiritual practice is what leads to emotional sobriety.Mature spirituality takes us beyond black and white thinking about our circumstances. By taking steps to honestly see and accept ourselves as we are, we are able to get beyond magical thinking. In her book, Mathieu uses case studies of individuals in AA to discuss specific elements of spritual bypass, noting both the positive and negative consequences bypass had for the individuals she interviewed. Additionally, she discusses Bill Wilson's struggle balance his own authenticity with the AA's organizational need for a spiritual leader.
At the onset of her research for the book, Mathieu thought that spiritual bypass was automatically a negative practice. The more she spoke with AAers and analysed their expereinces, the more she came to see that spiritual bypass can be a positive step - it can act as a period of repose that allows us to protect ourselves from painful realities until we're ready to address them head on. This was valuable to me, because it allowed me to see my own denial through a lense of acceptance rather than judgement.