The Dark Side of Spiritual Growth

dark side

If you’ve been immersed in spirituality for a while and you look back at yourself, you can probably notice that you’ve changed. Maybe you worry less about things that you used to be quickly on the shelf. It may also be that you are calmer inside and recognize patterns in yourself and in others more quickly. All great developments, which you owe to your own efforts.

But there is a dark side to your growth, which is not often highlighted. Changes sometimes go into growth spurts and sometimes very gradually, but they always have an effect on you and your environment. If you choose spiritual growth, you may have the following experiences:

  • People who have known you for a while say ‘It is impossible that you have changed so much’.
  • Your need for honesty and openness scares others and makes them stand back.
  • You notice that you attract new people and unfortunately also have to say goodbye to friends and acquaintances who now suit you less.


It can be quite confronting to notice that people react to you differently. Especially when you see that friendships have changed so much that they are no longer viable. By living more consciously and seeing spirituality as part of your life, you can experience significant changes in your social life. Sometimes even in your love relationship, when it turns out that your partner doesn’t suit you as well as before. This is painful and requires conscious attention.

These 3 tips can help you:

  1. Tell those around you about the steps you are taking. Open communication is a precondition for connection and understanding. The other does not have to follow you exactly; it is about your intention to share with your loved ones about your life.
  2. Don’t expect the people around you to see things the way you do; difference is good and it teaches you to accept and stay in love. Keep your finger on the pulse about respect: you give it to others and you expect it in return. There are boundaries.
  3. Think about goodbyes, it is painful when people distance themselves so much from you that you start to let go of each other. Or when you distance yourself. Really take the time to grieve, it helps to let go. Of course you attract new people, but you can reflect on what was there.change,

Ego behavior

Another dark side that can sometimes frighten you is the ego behavior that you can see in, for example, workshops and training courses. And not only from fellow students, but also from teachers. Maybe you didn’t expect that at all with spirituality, but unfortunately it is a reality that happens often. Actually, it is not so strange: people often think that they do not really represent anything. You would rather be special and be able to do something, then you will feel more seen, recognized and possibly admired. After all, nothing human is alien to us.

Spirituality is only so elusive that you often cannot apply a scientific method: you do A and then B and then you arrive at C. If only it were so concrete. This can make you insecure. Perhaps during a spiritual training you noticed that you were quite good at something and that made you feel good. Then you look around you and you see someone who is doing just that little bit better than you. Or you start teaching and then it is not surprising that you sometimes compare yourself with other teachers. You always fall short somewhere and this can give food to ego-behaviour. We all have ego, but it can spill over into behavior that undermines other people and ultimately yourself.


You notice this, for example, by applying many rules and also excluding others. I once attended a three-day training where on day one a couple was told to leave. And square public. They had just enthusiastically (okay, also a little stubbornly) talked about being initiated into yet another power. something like that. The teacher’s allergy was precisely the acquisition of diplomas and initiations, as was apparent from her many angry words about colleagues who had done years of training. Incidentally, you choose the teacher where you feel most at home at that moment, so that says a lot about me then.

At a medium training, a teacher gave me – also out loud and in the middle of the group – the future prediction that I would have another child, a daughter. I found that interesting, because I had been a single mother for a while. I jokingly asked if he saw a man there too. He replied seriously and in a charged way that he would have some time for me afterwards, alone. I didn’t know how fast I had to get away. And I still only have one child, which is fine by the way.

I once hung a quote on my toilet bulletin board with something like the following:

I only listen to the winners: people who know what they are doing and who live a joyous happy life.

I still think it’s relevant, even though I don’t have it anymore. It’s not about winning, but it’s about choosing inspiring people in your area.

Tips for finding inspiring teachers:
  1. They are friendly. It seems simple, but there are also really unfriendly or unapproachable teachers. What would you like to learn from people who are not open to others?
  2. They are humble. If someone says he’s enlightened and teaches you that at his very expensive retreat in Hawaii, think again.
  3. They give you a feeling or an experience of oneness. You may not know a certain skill yet, but you do feel valued and respected for who you are as a person. After all, we are all connected to each other and spirituality is about experiencing oneness.

There is a dark side to spiritual growth. You change, there may be changes in the people around you and you make new choices. You may also see a shadow better in yourself; by being aware of it, giving it attention and throwing light, your more difficult sides are also more apparent. By giving them air and light, you change and improve them. Fortunately, these are phases that you also go through, they are part of it. Keep trusting in your own light and in your wisdom, then you will navigate through it more easily.

Wishing you much light and wisdom!


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