4 Problematic Myths About Spirituality — And How They Keep You Miserable

How to untie a web of myths, lies and misunderstandings that keep people from spiritual fulfillment & joy.

woman sitting enjoying view of ocean Claudiu Maxim / Shutterstock 

An acquaintance recently told me that she believes “God is punishing me for being mean to my mom.”

In the past, she has also questioned why certain things are happening to her because she is going to church and doing everything she’s supposed to be doing to lead a good life.

These comments got me thinking about how bound we are by our beliefs — consciously and unconsciously. Depending upon our upbringing or experiences that embedded spirituality into our lives, I realized we may be keeping ourselves more miserable than we could be through our misconceptions about how the world works and our perception of what is meant by "Source."


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Four potentially problematic beliefs about spirituality that may cause more discord than joy

1. If you follow certain rules or rituals your life will be easy and bad things won’t happen to you

Some may think if you pray enough or stay positive enough, you won’t get sick, your partner won’t cheat on you, or you’ll get that promotion at work. Others may believe that if you get angry, God or the Universe will punish you.


Unfortunately, bad things happen to spiritual people. Of course, our perception of bad things is relative and how we handle that perceived bad scenario is quite informative about our spirituality to some degree.

Spirituality does not make us perfect nor is it a tit-for-tat kind of thing — if I do this, then God or the Universe will make sure I get this. Having such a rigid view of spirituality may prevent you from living life as it comes.

While our spirituality enhances our existence in many ways, and it can certainly curtail a few negatives in our lives, our spirituality has the potential to carry us through the rough waves of life as well as bask in appreciation and joy during the golden opportunistic and prosperous times.

Part of our human experience is to adapt, learn, and grow in love despite normal life occurrences. Our spirituality supports that growth.


2. Spirituality can be bought or is a competition

Spending money on lavish trips to holy places, retreats, or master classes with religious leaders or sages, or purchasing crystals, incense, rosaries, and books can all have inspirational effects. Coming together with like-minded people and deepening your spiritual awareness can have wonderful lasting effects yet it doesn’t make you a spiritual guru.

Doing the above, adhering to a specific diet, or listening to certain music also doesn’t make you a more spiritual person than someone else. Comparing one’s spirituality to another is nonproductive and non-relative. Spirituality is a personal practice that you develop for yourself to remain connected to your essence and spiritual beliefs.

Spirituality exists wherever you are, in whatever you do, and cannot be measured by external appearances. Years of contemplation, change, life experiences, and spiritual practice develop long-term, strong spirituality.

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3. Spirituality and religion are interchangeable

Spirituality is a different aspect than the religion or rituals we practice on a regular basis. Religion provides various institutionalized rules and methods as well as beliefs, attitudes, and stances on God/Source and associated topics. Spirituality is a level of internal faith that goes beyond an organizational standpoint or perspective.

Spirituality is the connection you have with what you consider God or Source, where you are free to express that connection however you like. Spirituality is a personal connection to a power higher than you that you respect, draw strength and wisdom from, and honor in a way that is tailored to you and your beliefs, attitudes, and methods.

You can be religious and spiritual simultaneously, but being religious doesn’t make you spiritual and being spiritual doesn’t mean you’re religious.

4. One-size-fits-all and everyone should believe the same

Everyone’s definition and interpretation of spirituality is different and rightly so since people have had varied experiences that tend to shape belief systems. Often, specific circumstances in your life can have a greater impact on your overall faith than what you may have learned growing up or gathered from family, friends, or schooling.


Hardships, illness, or tragedy can influence you to make significant alterations and detours to that which you consider sacred. Because of this, you tend to hold on to, view, and act upon spirituality altogether differently.

Knowing this can help you avoid judging others and yourself on how you think things should be. The old saying, “Walk a mile in their shoes,” says it all. Avoid judgment altogether and lean towards acceptance.

Accept that others are different, and that’s okay, as you and they are all yearning for the same thing: peace.


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Pamela Aloia is a certified grief coach, intuitive/medium, and author of inspirational books. Pamela supports people through change and helps them enhance their lives and experiences via energy awareness, meditation, and mindfulness.