Why We Find It Hard To Talk About Our Spirituality

Sales in the self help and spirituality sections of bookstores are stronger now than ever before, but you wouldn’t always know it from speaking to people.

There’s a pretty good chance that if you’re reading this article, you have some degree of interest in the subject of spirituality, right? Good, now ask yourself who you typically talk about it to; do you bend the ear of anyone who will listen or keep your conversations to a close set of friends and/or family members?

Chances are that a lot of you will be in the latter camp, speaking of your interest only with those who ask similar questions of life and who you know won’t judge you for it.

But why should spirituality be such a taboo subject? (For the record, we are mainly referring to spirituality as that which does not belong to an organized religion.)

The Hippie Label

The 1960s and 70s saw the emergence of the hippie movement which swept across America and around other parts of the world.

Hippies, too, were spiritual people likely to shun more organized religion, but these days being labelled as a hippie might not be welcome.

Connotations of laziness, unreliability, and even a tendency towards drug use are not uncommon for those looked upon as hippies – all of which are totally unfounded among the vast majority of people with spiritual beliefs.

It’s All A Bit Airy Fairy Isn’t It?

Whether or not they say it out loud, many people think of non-religious spirituality as something which is a bit fluffy; they might well disregard your interest in it as merely a mid-life crisis or a temporary fad into which you have been lured.

Spirituality can be very abstract in nature and it lacks the uniformity of religion. There are no specific texts to follow which has led to an almost limitless array of beliefs and views that come under the umbrella of spirituality.

Thus, to the outsider, the mention of spirituality probably conjures up ideas and images that fall far outside the realms of reality. This lack of understanding can lead to ridicule, even from those close to you.

Media Coverage & Portrayal

We’re more plugged into the media than ever before, so it is unsurprising that how spirituality is reported on or portrayed in it can have a big impact on how forthcoming people are with their own views.

As with the majority of media, it is often the extremes that are most likely to be shown rather than the “average” person.

In fictional scenarios, spiritual people are written as crystal loving, vegan minimalists (the hippie vibe all over again). Of course, these things can all be a part of the life of a spiritual person, but, conversely, they may be conspicuous by their absence for many.

The same can be said of news coverage that specifically deals with the realm of spirituality.

The primary reason for this is that a more stereotypical view of a spiritual person may be required in many fictional scenarios for the purposes of narrative clarity, and all news tends to focus on one extreme or another by its sheer nature.

Still, when people observe spirituality in this way, they logically come to believe that this is what it means to be a spiritual being. So the media only serve to reinforce the misunderstanding that was talked about earlier.

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Your Own Lack Of Understanding Or Clarity

So far we’ve looked at 3 big external factors that make spirituality a taboo subject for many, but let’s now turn our attention inwards.

A common trait among the spiritual – and you may share this too – is how they struggle to explain their own thoughts and feelings on life and the meaning of it. The unknown and the unknowable are hard to talk about because we simply can’t know what we are saying.

We can theorize, we can debate, we can stare off into the distance and let our minds wander the cosmos, but we always have to return to a state of unknowing. Over time we come to accept this, but it doesn’t stop us from thinking.

This is all well and good, but when even we struggle to comprehend the answers to the questions we ask, how can we expect to discuss them with other people?

This is why we tend to keep such conversations to a small group of similarly minded individuals with whom we feel a bond of non-understanding. Attempts to relay our wandering thoughts to others can result in blank looks or, worse, derision – both of which would be an affront to our egos (despite the ego being something that many spiritual people seek to listen to less often).

The Journey Is One You Take Alone

As much as we may want to think that we all live our lives together as partners, families, friendship groups, and even communities, each of us is the own leading role in the play that is our existence.

Everyone else, no matter how important they may be to you, can only ever take on a supporting part. You make the journey through life as an individual, alone in your mind, if not in the physical world.

When you take the spiritual path, it can lead to a lot of soul searching and contemplation; it is a deeply personal thing. Few of us like talking about our innermost thoughts and feelings unless with those closest to us, so the idea of being open about them with people we are less well acquainted with is scary.

With organized religion, it is more typical for beliefs to be taught rather than discovered and even when you do have questions, the answers are in a book or come from asking a faith leader.

The Conscious Rethink: the lack of a concise definition of what it means to be spiritual leads to a great deal of misunderstanding and wrongly held assumptions. Whether or not spiritual people are troubled by how others view them, many probably don’t feel the need to try and explain or justify the views they hold or the journey they are on. Instead, they look for similarly inclined people with whom to ponder life’s mysteries; no doubt this is a very natural behavior for the spiritual person.

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