Have you ever heard the saying “missing the forest for the trees”? It may be a cliché at this point, but I feel like this is something we all do on occasion. It’s easy to get so caught up in the smaller things to the point that we completely forget to attend to the big important things. This is especially true in our spiritual and emotional lives. After all, what even are the big things when it comes to spirituality and emotions? How are you supposed to make sure that you’re getting the big things right if you don’t even know what those big things are?
I see far too many people focusing all of their time and attention on tiny details while the greater foundation of their spiritual life is crumbling, and I don’t want this to happen to you. Today we’re going to talk about why this happens, how you can recognize if it’s happening in your spiritual life, and what you can do about it.
Do You Get Caught Up In The Small Details?
Have you ever spent so much time trying to pick a guided meditation that you end up not having enough time left to meditate at all? Or maybe you’ve taken the time to set up the perfect altar and get every crystal and candle in exactly the right place, only to realize you have no idea what to do at this altar. Maybe it’s even something simple, like focusing too much on trying to pick out the exact right crystal to wear that day and completely missing the fact that you’re bulldozing yourself in every situation you run into. Whatever it may be, it’s all too easy to fall into this trap of focusing on the minutia to the point that we start missing how much we are letting the big stuff slip.
There are about a million examples of how we can get our priorities mixed up in this way. You can see it in the yogi who meditates excessively even while their relationships are crumbling around them. It’s trying to learn every esoteric skill and psychic ability out there while completely ignoring your real life. It’s striving to create a picture-perfect image of yourself as some spiritually enlightened being while paying no mind to the way that this cuts you off from the people around you.
Getting caught up in these less than important details isn’t your fault. It happens to all of us on occasion. The problem is simply that we don’t know how to recognize what is truly important and what is a distraction. There is 1 Easy Way to begin to decipher the important things from the not so important things. Spirituality, at its core, is meant to improve your life. It’s not meant to make you feel better or to distract you from your life, it’s meant to make your actual, mundane, day-to-day life better in very real, observable ways. If your spiritual practices are not supporting this basic goal, then you are focusing on the wrong things.
What’s more important, learning lucid dreaming or doing inner child work? Reading tarot cards or meditating? Working with crystals or communing with your ancestors? The answer is that it depends on your intention in pursuing each of these practices. The practices themselves are not necessarily better or worse, it’s what you intend to do with them that matters. Inner child work may seem more important than lucid dreaming at first blush. I mean, what do you actually gain through lucid dreaming? But lucid dreaming can be used to do deep shadow work and at a certain point, inner child work can become a distraction from taking real action in your life. In contrast, lucid dreaming can be used as an escape to experience a fantasy reality while inner child work can be used to heal the beliefs and patterns of behavior that are creating problems in your relationships.
It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it and why you’re doing it. This, unfortunately, means that there is no easy answer to whether you are really focusing on the important things. I can’t tell you which of your practices are important and which are distractions. You have to evaluate for yourself what your intentions are in every practice that you do and how these practices actually benefit your life. Does your meditation practice help with your anxiety, or are you simply using it as a way to feel better about yourself as a more spiritual person? Are you using your tarot cards to evaluate your life direction and gain real insight or are you using them to avoid making decisions and shunning responsibility off onto the universe or some other nebulous power? This honesty is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself. It’s one of the few things that will accelerate your spiritual growth exponentially.
This Micro Focus Is Screwing You
It’s all well and good to be able to recognize this, but why does it matter so much? The answer is surprisingly mundane. It’s the same as any other endeavor in your life, spiritual or otherwise. By focusing only on the small details and ignoring the foundation, you are wasting your effort in building something that will fall apart at the slightest provocation. It’s almost as though you have baked a cake and are spending hours decorating this cake and making it beautiful and creating the finest icing flowers without realizing that the cake that you’ve baked is inedible and tastes horrible. Yes, it’s very pretty and terribly impressive, but it is functionally useless as an actual cake!
When you focus on nothing but small details in your spiritual life, you are creating a spiritual practice that does not facilitate spiritual growth. Sure it might feel good temporarily, you might feel like you’re working very hard, it might look like you’re doing all the right things, but if you aren’t growing, if your life isn’t getting any better, if your relationships are not improving, and if your self-love is not growing, then your spiritual practice is a lie. It may be a very beautiful lie, it may be a very convincing lie, but it is still a lie.
The problem is that this lie primarily hurts you. Other people might get caught in the crosshairs, but in reality, you’re mostly lying to yourself and stunting your own growth. You’re keeping yourself caught in a beautiful trap and ignoring the reality of your life and your spiritual practice. You are robbing yourself of your own power!
Your only axis of power, the only place where you have any leverage to truly change anything, is in reality. It is not possible for you to change what you will not acknowledge. You cannot fix a problem that you can’t even recognize. Until you step firmly into reality, until you stop lying to yourself, your life will always stay the same. You will be stuck in the same situations that make you unhappy today. You will repeat the same patterns in your relationships. You will struggle in the same ways with money. You will still fight yourself and feel like you are not enough, like there’s something wrong with you, or like you are too much. Your self-hate will continue to fester unchecked. Your dissatisfaction and struggle will only suck you in deeper. Unless you can acknowledge where you are right now, the good and the bad, those things you like about yourself and your life, and those things that you hate about yourself and your life, you will never be able to change anything. You will remain trapped.
Until this point, perhaps consciously or perhaps subconsciously, you may have believed there was no way to change your circumstances. You may have believed that finding ways to numb the pain and build a fantasy life for yourself where you didn’t have to experience your reality was the only option. I am here to tell you that it’s not. You can change the things about your life that cause you pain. You can have relationships that fill you with joy and that do not hurt. You can have enough money and abundance to feel safe and free in your life. You can have a relationship with yourself that feels nourishing, nurturing, and loving. Spirituality is an incredible tool to transform your life, but to use this tool you have to understand and truly acknowledge the reality that you are living in.
It’s Time To Do The Big Things!
This is why it’s so important for you to focus on the big things. This is why you have to build a solid foundation for yourself spiritually. If you get your foundation laid properly, everything else you build on top of it will only add to the beauty, strength, and transformation that you want to create in your life. So what exactly are the big things?
The answer depends on your life and on you personally. The answer lies in your day-to-day life. What are you struggling with? Make a list of the top three things you’re struggling with. It might be money troubles or a relationship problem. It might be anxiety or an eating disorder. You might struggle with setting boundaries or with your physical health. Take a look at the top three things that you are struggling with in your life.
The big things in your spiritual life are the practices that you use to transform these big problems that you have identified. Not the spiritual practices that you use to feel better about your problems, not the spiritual practices that you use to ignore your problems. The practices that you use to transform your problems.
If you struggle with boundaries, your big important spiritual practice might be self-empowerment work and strengthening your solar plexus chakra. If you struggle with your romantic relationships, your big important spiritual practice might be relearning your love patterning and learning how to work with your attachment style. If you struggle with physical health, your big important spiritual thing might be somatic meditations and building a more loving relationship with your body and finding compassion for yourself. The big important things are different for every single one of us, but the core intention is always the same. It’s about finding the spiritual practice that will move the needle in a very real way and create tangible, observable change in your life.
If you are looking at your life, your problems, and your spirituality and realizing that your spiritual practices are not supporting your growth, it’s okay. It’s all right if, up to this point, you didn’t know that you needed to structure your spirituality in this way. And it’s okay if you don’t know what you need to do to re-create your spiritual life into the transformative power that it’s capable of being. Sometimes it does take trial and error to find the spiritual practices that really move the needle.
You can identify the problems that you want to address in your life and try new spiritual practices to help with all of these and find that none of them works quite right. It can take several tries to find something that really gives you the results that you want. This is normal, this is expected. The important thing is that you are evaluating your spiritual life through this lens and not allowing yourself to become complacent or slip back into the spiritual escapism of focusing on all the minutiae. You can have a life that feels good to live. You can have relationships that are supportive and loving. You can have abundance and freedom. And you can have a relationship with yourself that is loving, kind, and nourishing. The only thing standing between you and that life is your willingness to take a hard look at yourself and be truly honest about where your reality lies.