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10 Spiritual Development Mistakes I've Made (so far)

Updated: Apr 9

A look into the Spiritual Development Mistakes I've made on my journey so far


I've only recently begun to pay serious attention to my spiritual growth and I wanted to share the mistakes I've made along the way. This isn't to say I'm no longer making these mistakes and this turned out to be a wonderful, yet often difficult, exercise in exploring my thoughts and actions within my ongoing spiritual development.


"There are no mistakes, only opportunities"

I share this in the hope you'll find benefit in reading about my experiences, and from my personal insights into each particular 'opportunity' I've encountered so far. They're paired up into what I consider to be different sides of the same coin, so, in reality, this is rather more like 20 Spiritual Development Mistakes I've Made (so far).


 

In this article

 

1. Not Practicing Enough / Setting Goals Too High


I’ve found routines and methods that work for me, then something changes and I realise I’ve been neglecting my practices. On the other hand, I’ve also set unrealistic goals of so many practices a day that it becomes impossible to reach or maintain. Both result in similar feelings of failure and shame, which we know is not going to help!


this is failure

Experimenting and failing is part of the process, find what’s right for you and try to adapt to changing circumstances - take it easy on yourself and keep going. Remember, what works for your favourite teacher may never work for you.


2. Reading Too Much / Not Enough Contemplation


In an effort to learn as much as possible in as short a space of time as I can, I’ve often failed to truly absorb or internalise what I’m learning. I’m now realising it’s probably better to read 5 of the right books in a year, and try to understand the contents fully, than to read 50 books and hope the best parts stick around!


snoopy reading with woodstock

Like the story of the tortoise and the hare, perhaps slowing down is the wiser action - by allowing yourself time to contemplate what you’re learning, you may reap greater rewards.


3. Rigidity of Beliefs / Not Seeking Guidance


Unless I’m right about everything, which I’m not, fixed beliefs have undoubtedly prevented me from learning and developing. I can see times where holding firmly onto my beliefs has prevented me from growing beyond my limitations. This has also led to me failing to seek guidance from others and holding myself back by not granting others permission to assist me in my journey.


wilful ignorance

Ultimately, the answers may very well be inside you, but you can greatly benefit from allowing others to help you get there!


4. Feeling Superiority / Forgetting the Basics


Spiritual arrogance has the potential to be a big problem, especially when coupled with rigidity of beliefs or spiritual bypassing. Just because other people are on a different path to me, or at a different place on it, doesn’t mean I’m in any way better than they are.


arrogant man with tiny teacup pinky

Sometimes, when we’ve travelled far or for a long time, it’s possible to forget early lessons or lose sight of why we started out. It’s always worth returning to the basics of gratitude, humility, curiosity, and compassion.


5. Destination Over Journey / Fighting the Process


I can sometimes forget that true progress and development is found in the journey, the struggle, the trials and tribulations. I can be forgiven for wanting to be done with it all and demanding enlightenment right now thank you very much! I’ve been guilty of impatience and of failing to surrender to the ebbs and flows of the universe, knowing there’s something far greater going on.


"The best way to achieve success in any area of life, is to surrender yourself to it"

When things are going well, it’s easy to understand the greatest gains are made in the toughest times - not so much when you’re in the middle of those tough times. Try to remember that the bad times are in fact the best opportunities for growth.


6. Seeking Shortcuts / Psychedelics


Speaking of impatience, I’ve been tempted to seek shortcuts on the path to enlightenment, and in typing that sentence, the folly of seeking shortcuts becomes strikingly obvious - how am I going to get there sooner, when I’m actively trying to avoid walking the path? I’ve also been tempted to use substances to further my development and I see where this can become a hinderance rather than a help.


shortcut unfortunate truck sign

Natural psychedelics can be a useful tool as opposed to a shortcut, but this seems entirely dependent on how they’re used. A rubber ring may help to get you into the water, but if you rely on it, you'll never learn how to swim.


7. Relying on Aids / Living Via Horoscope


When I found it difficult to meditate, like many others I turned to guided meditation and found it was much easier; but I soon realised it wasn’t doing anything to help me to meditate without it. I’ve also been guilty of putting too much stock in what Horoscopes or The Pattern has to say and giving it too much influence in my decision-making.


"I don't believe in Astrology - I'm a Sagittarius and we're naturally sceptical"

Some people are wholly obsessed with their Horoscope to the point where it defines them and dictates their every day. Much like with psychedelics, at some point these things stop being useful tools and become controlling crutches which may be hindering natural progress.


8. Idolisation / Avoiding Responsibility


In contrast to #3, idolisation of a teacher or guru could be a real problem. I’ve less experience with this than with #3, but I can imagine where problems could arise. The spiritual path seems to be a profoundly personal journey and, while advice is helpful, dogma is certainly not. It’s also a difficult journey and I can see why there's temptation to hand over responsibility to someone else.


"Eventually we all have to accept full responsibility for our actions, everything we've done, and everything we've not done"

Perhaps it’s just me, but this seems fraught with danger and I’d urge caution if you’re thinking of dedicating yourself to a teacher or their teachings. History is littered with false prophets and charismatic leaders only concerned with personal gain.


9. Making Comparisons / Seeking Validation


Linking back to #1 and #4, comparing myself to others has never been a great idea. I’ve either compared favourably and invited feelings of superiority, or I’ve compared poorly and felt inadequate. I try to remind myself we’re all at different stages and making comparisons is foolish at best. Likewise, measuring my self-worth and success based on other peoples’ opinions has never led to anywhere good.


fruitless comparisons

We’re doing the best we can with what we have.

If you’re going to compare, compare yourself to yesterday, if you seek validation, seek it only from yourself.

Just remember, the path is not a straight line, and the ups and downs are both inevitable and necessary.


10. Environmental Factors


I’ve been guilty in the past of treating my mind and body poorly, forgetting to care for the vessel my soul inhabits. It’s Mind, Body & Spirit for a reason and we should give them all the care and attention they deserve. Even with everything so inextricably linked, I find it easy to focus on one at the expense of another. This failure to take an holistic approach to my spiritual development has certainly hindered me over the years.


mental chains weighing us down

Why make things harder for ourselves than they already are? I know my spirit can only benefit from my Mind and Body being fit and healthy, free of exposure to chemicals, radiation, anxiety, and fear.  


Making simple, but sometimes difficult, life decisions, can remove some very heavy and inhibiting chains.



For more information on the spiritual path, different spiritual practices, and your spiritual development & growth, visit Spiritual England!


 
Adam Pike - Holistic Healer

Looking for nutrition or spiritual advice?

Get in touch with Adam Pike

Holistic Healer & Health Consultant | Director of Spiritual England


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