Woman sitting in nature with mountains on horizon

9 Ways You Sabotage Your Spiritual Development

Are You Getting in the Way of Your Own Growth?

If you are struggling with a sense of feeling stuck in a rut, consider how you might be sabotaging your own progress. 

Even if your goals seem to be in other areas of your life, like in your career or relationships for example, sidestepping your spiritual growth can be a contributing factor if not the critical path element that is out of whack.

How to Sabotage Your Spiritual Growth and Simple Alternatives

What follows are some brief examples of how we commonly sabotage our own inner growth and development. I’ll also suggest simple antidotes for each. Note however that simple does not necessarily mean easy. 

1) Faking It Until You Make It

I understand the reasoning behind this all-too-common advice, but when it comes to spiritual endeavors, it is an extremely slippery slope. It is an invitation to be dishonest with others and with oneself. If there is a need to “fake it”, why? What opportunity is being overlooked here when a person skips over the inquiry to figure that out, and the work needed to address it at its root?

Antidote: Be honest. Accept yourself for who and what you are first and foremost. Be truthful in your endeavors. Send the Universe the message that you are 100% OK with who you are and where you are. Then ask from the heart for assistance and guidance. Imagine how much sweeter will be your success when you start out from a place of complete integrity!

2) Trying to Be Positive All of the Time

When you see and sense energy as I do, it is so striking to see how this shows up in people who are caught in this trap. Imagine always trying to inhale without ever exhaling… or chasing the sunlight so you never have to experience the night. Why do you feel a need to be positive all of the time?

Imagine simply and naturally feeling blessed and grateful as good things happen all around you. This sort of natural state of being does not come about after years of effort and forced positivity. It comes about through deep spiritual practice – which often includes profound phases of allowing and acceptance.

Antidote: Reflect on the phrase “what you resist persists”. Understand that when something “negative” appears in your world view, it is more often than not a reflection of how you are energizing the event. By ignoring this important signal, you are also missing a key opportunity to de-energize, heal, and release this from your life.

3) Overly Focusing on Fixing or Saving Others

If you are fixated on fixing someone, guess what message you are sending to their energy bodies? You guessed it — you are sending them a visualization of what is wrong with them. You are telling them psychically that they need to be fixed. And that you have the power to fix them and they do not.

Yes, in order to make a point and hopefully help this stick in your noggin for a bit, I am exaggerating and grossly oversimplifying. But the simple truth is – there is no better way than this to block yourself from seeing someone else in their highest state. Same goes for the world — how easily might you see the good in the world if you wake up each day donning your superman cape so you can go out and save the world from itself?

Does this mean it is wrong to see and care about the suffering in others or in the world? Of course not. But as with everything else in life, it’s all about the balance of energies inside and out.

Antidote: Remember that all change comes from within. See others as they truly are, without judgement. Focus on their source and their light, instead of shoulding all over them. 

Perhaps more importantly, investigate where you may be out of balance within yourself. How are you showing up for them? Are you living in your own truth? This is always a good place to start.

4) Endless Learning Without Disciplined Practice

Imagine spending a decade of your life training for a marathon without ever running a single race along the way. Or spending years reading books and watching videos about playing the guitar without ever picking one up. Absurd, right? And yet, this is sorta what happens for some of us on the spiritual path. We read books, see healers, get all sorts of wonderful insight but never really put it into practice!

There are a lot of reasons this can happen. One reason is that it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that learning is doing a thing. Learning is safe, doing is not. There’s no guarantee that when you run that race or pick up that guitar that what happens will be what you want to happen. In the realm of spiritual work, this “push come to shove” moment can be even more fear inducing. What if you fail? Will you feel stupid? Lost?

If you run a race and “fail”, life goes on. If you work to bring more of your soul into your life and “fail”, who do you turn to? The underlying and often unconscious fear can stop people in their tracks.

The other challenge is that the non-material nature of spiritual growth lends itself to hit or miss, all or nothing attempts. Discipline practice should be part of the learning process. This means frequent, documented efforts. 

Antidote: Practice daily. Do and reflect. Inspect and adapt. Journal, talk to others, do whatever it takes to make it real (literally real-ize what you are learning).

5) Ignoring Gifts, Messages, and Information

This tendency often goes hand-in-hand with the addiction to endless learning. And like most of these self-sabotaging tendencies, I know this one all too well from personal experience.

I’ll never forget a specific experience in my life when I felt lost and a bit hopeless. I was “tuning in”, asking my spirit guides for help. The answer I received was surprising.

Without words, the vibe was this: “Your answers are all around you. You have been gathering tools, insights, and answers for years. You are swimming in an ocean of information. Everything you need is available to you. What else can we say or do to help you experience this for yourself?”

Yes, it was pretty much the spiritual equivalent of being told to “google it yourself”, lol.

What I understood in this moment was this very important realization: recognizing spiritual data is how you keep it coming to you. The very act of perceiving and receiving is what opens the flow and keeps it flowing. When I don’t know the answers, it’s not because the answers are not there… I am not a victim being deprived. Now I know – when I feel truly deeply confused and lost, it’s almost always because I don’t want to hear or see what’s right in front of me.

You know the saying “a fish doesn’t know it’s in water”? Well, I am here to tell you, you are swimming in an ocean of spiritual information. Now you know :)

We are all connected. All time is now. Everything is here now.

Antidote: Be here now.

That’s ALL that you need.

But if you crave more: allow, receive, and for bonus points – do so with gratitude and appreciation! If you can, talk out loud. Thank your higher self, your un/subconscious mind. Thank your guides, your source, your God.

Light the place up and energize this amazing blessed connectedness you have to the All That Is.

6) Getting Lost in Your Mind 

I recently spent a weekend studying Controlled Remote Viewing with Lori Williams of Intuitive Specialists. As a result, I had two rather life-changing realizations:
   1) A part of me can go to any place at any point in time and answer any question I can think of about that place and time. I have no doubt at all that this is the case. I don’t understand how or why. No one really does. But it is real.
   2) My analytical mind (the left brain) will absolutely get in the way until I train myself to get it out of the way. It injects fears and anxieties. More challenging – it creates endless stories and build sand castles in the sky.

This is just one of a great many ways the mind runs away with our attention and focus. The simple fact of the matter is that we live in an overstimulating environment. That’s OK, it just means you have to develop the discipline to quiet this part of your mind, while also bringing more of your awareness online. 

Antidote: Go for a walk and pay attention to the details of what you see. Practice observing things as they truly are, without labeling and telling stories. If your mind is noisy – consider outright telling it to “sit down and be quiet”. If it’s curious, let it know how its silence will help you discover new things. “Mind – if you are quiet, we can explore the true nature of things and see what emerges! But if we keep projecting our ideas onto things, we’ll never know!”

7) Reading Into Everything

Is there a reason for everything that happens to and around you? Did you see that ant that walked near your left foot? What does my new ant totem want me to know? What about that cloud that looks like a turtle? Today is the 5th. What does 5 mean in numerology? We’re out of Mercury Retrograde now, right? Uh-oh, my phone battery is low. Maybe that’s a sign I need to take a break from my job for a while. Probably because I worked too hard in a past life, right? My star brothers and sisters in the Sigma Omega Star System don’t have to work at all.

You get the idea.

When you begin to see into the woo, and realize that seemingly random synchronicities can sometimes reveal amazing things… it’s easy to start noticing everything going on around you. Slippery slope to say the least.

Repeat after me: sh*t happens. It’s a chaotic messy world. Even if there is an underlying reason for every single thing that happens, ask yourself is it relevant? If you twisted your ankle, it may just mean that you weren’t paying attention to the ground. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your first chakra is out of balance.

Antidote: Spiritual growth thrives when your energy field is coherent and integrated. Ask yourself what matters right now? If you have asked a clear question, then yes – look for signs and answers. The Universe will respond to you. But beyond that, be cautious when over-analyzing the various happenings around you.

8) Spiritual Bypassing

Many of the items in this list could fit under this label. But there are also many other forms bypassing can take.

The bottom line is – growth can be awkward and is full of unknowns. As cliché as it may sound, if you’ve been around as a baby learns to walk, you see this in real time.

Growth can hurt. It can lead to unexpected and uncontrollable change. It can reveal things about yourself you may not want to see or know. 

So it’s understandable when you consciously or unconsciously try to hack the journey, try to get around things, avoid the pain. 

And trust me, coping is NOT inherently bad. There are times in life when you must cope. You must survive a circumstance or event.

The key is to not get lost in the land of coping. If you are continuously and endlessly avoiding a core soul lesson, understand that the criticality of facing it will grow. 

You can opt to work on these soul lessons when you become aware of them, or eventually your soul will place you in a position where you will have few choices left to make but to learn. May not be in this lifetime, but you will cross the bridge eventually.

Antidote: Be honest with yourself. What do you feel in your heart of hearts? Are you facing the hard lessons life is offering you or running away? Only you can know the answer.

No matter how much you drag your feet, try to go around it… no matter how afraid you may be… the funny thing about all of this is that once you do face the lesson for what it is, you will always come out the other side better for the experience.

As your grow yourself spiritually, you make space for more of your Soul’s essence to be present with you in this physical matrix-reality.

9) Allowing Fear to Rule the Day

It has been said that the opposite of fear is love. If this is so, then it is easy to see how letting fear rule over you is a sure way to sabotage your spiritual growth. 

Just as a plant reaches up towards the sun, so too does your life energy want to flow to and through you. It wants to reach out to all other living beings, to expand, and to shine and share its unique frequency.

Your life energy is expansive in nature. As such, nothing shuts it down quite like fear, anxiety, and worry.

Fear is completely natural when you are facing danger. The problem, of course, is that the mind’s amazing ability to imagine things can so easily slip into imaging an endless stream of unpleasant things, whether or not they will ever happen.

Antidote: Read “Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Beyond that, you can also work with the idea that love is the opposite of fear. Experiment with what happens when you find yourself in a place of fear and instead of giving into it, you choose to focus on love. Allow yourself to really feel and focus on the love you feel for a dear friend, partner, child, or pet. You could also just get into the vibe of love for a song or a place. The key is to really feel it, to focus on the person, place, or thing you love. Feel it in your body and in your heart. 

How likely is it that you’ll still feel the fear that troubled you at the outset? How as the fear shifted? What else is now revealed to you that was perhaps hidden before?

Other Helpful Tips

  • When working with any of these items, try to not look at things through the lens of “good and bad”. These are judgments that really activate the left brain.
  • Remember – there’s no rush. Spiritual growth doesn’t have a finish line. It’s an ongoing, spiraling, and iterative process. The rewards are not at the end, but rather show up all around you as you go.
  • Racing ahead can easily take you off track and lead you astray. Patience and compassion are keys.
  • If you feel lost or frustrated, get in touch with the natural joy that comes from growing spiritually. Recognize and celebrate this, and let this be your guide.
  • Recognize that it’s OK to pause, slow down, and take breaks. It’s all about balance and moving through life at a sustainable pace.