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  • Writer's pictureMarc-Henri Sandoz

Sacrifice and suffering

Most of you agree that sacrifice and suffering have no value by themselves, and don't have to be sought after, nor received passively or with resignation. In fact, this belief in an intrinsic value of sacrifice and suffering is very characteristic of toxic spirituality.

One more dirty little lie!

And yet this lie very often continues to influence spiritual practitioners, even when they have consciously turned their back on it.

When you have been raised into a culture or family strongly influenced by toxic spirituality, it has become part of your unconscious foundations. It has informed your belief system, your relationship to reality, to others and to yourself. Even when you decide to deconstruct it, to revolt against it, it is very likely that some of its influence remains hidden in the depths of your personality.

Here are some behaviors and attitudes that reveal that this toxic lie is present at some level in your inner life, and influences you in toxic ways:

  • It can make difficult for you to treat yourself with tenderness, to listen to your physical pain and to your emotional pain, and to do what needs to be done to cure it. So many spiritual seekers for example don’t take the opportunity to seek help for their inner traumas. As a result they live with repressed sufferings instead of growing and healing.

  • It can make you think that you need to suffer on the yoga mat or in different types of meditation or spiritual practices, as if it was necessary to suffer in order t0 gain the right to receive benefits from your practice.

  • It may influence you to ignore your own needs when you relate with other people, as if sacrificing yourself was a way of showing love.

  • It can make you develop a kind of resignation and passivity when you face life difficulties, so that you are not totally able to use your skills, wisdom and strength to confront these difficulties, to find your way through them, to act in a courageous and adequate way and try to transform them when possible.

Of course, you know it, suffering is part of life and will happen to each one of us. And sometimes sacrifice is unavoidable.

But how to deal with it in a healthy way?

What is of positive value is not sacrifice or suffering. It is the alchemical process that can allow you to turn the negativity of suffering into an opportunity to grow, become wiser and even heal. It allows you to practice freedom, generosity and gift instead of sacrifice.

This process is not automatic, it involves grace, courage and love, wisdom, openness, practice. It builds your dignity and your ability to treat yourself with tenderness and love, and to face life difficulties with wisdom and courage, to accept what cannot be avoided and to change what can be changed.

Seeing clearly the traces and influences of toxic spirituality in your own inner life is the first step for healing. It needs to be followed by a whole process of awareness, cleaning, inner reconciliation and integration. I know the difficulty of it because I went myself through it in dramatic and deep ways. But the difficulty is worth it: it will open you to new depths of spiritual experience, peace, joy, self trust and sense of purpose.

To go deeper into this subject, watch these two ressources:

- My book about toxic spirituality: ‘Toxic Jesus, my journey from holy shit to spiritual healing'

- My online course: ‘Heal Your Spiritual Life'

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