How to Know if your Spiritual Teacher is a Narcissist

Narcissism comes in flavors of overt and covert, and the ones who fly under the radar most often mask themselves as empaths and enter helping professions. If they have access to needy and vulnerable people, they can easily manipulate others to gain the energy supply they desperately need to feed their weak ego.

Spiritual professions are an area ripe for manipulation due to the lack of structure, lack of cohesion in teachings, no governing body to regulate them, and a host of wide-eyed people in pain seeking answers from gurus.

Learn about the five toxic people to avoid on your spiritual path.

Here’s some tips on identifying patterns of behavior from a narcissist disguised as a “light worker.” Anyone can do these things from time to time, as we all exhibit narcissistic tendencies and traits. However, when many of these qualities, traits, or tactics are exhibited over a prolonged period of time, it means they are a pattern of behavior, and when you notice many of these patterns, you may be dealing with someone who is high on the narcissism scale and could potentially abuse their clients and followers, or at the very least, mislead a lot of people and take advantage of them.

Learn more about spiritual abuse.

Overt narcissistic traits, patterns, and tactics:

  • They claim to have special abilities that give them access to information or power that make them an authority in some form. Typically they’ll use this to gaslight their clients or followers into believing they are more connected to spirit or more enlightened than you.
  • They publicly claim special labels to boost their authority, like Starseed, or that they are the earthly reincarnation of someone famous from the past.
  • They defer to god, source, spirit, Jesus, or some other spiritual entity whom others without the same powers don’t have access to as the source of their information.
  • They claim to have been born with a special mission or born different.
  • They may be incredibly intelligent and be able to rationalize everything they say, but will use this to assert their superiority.
  • Anyone who criticizes them is wrong, jealous, out to get them, etc. and may openly attack those who attempt to expose them. They never admit mistakes or accept accountability. Will block dissenters and claim they are setting boundaries or accuse them of projecting.
  • Will act like the don’t need anyone’s approval and downplay or minimize actions they are accused of.
  • Will project an air of perfection.
  • Displays little empathy and/or is extremely emotionally detached toward others while championing emotional detachment and dissociation as a spiritual goal, but expects others to show extreme empathy toward them.

Learn more about overt narcissism. 

Covert narcissistic (codependent) traits, patterns, and tactics:

  • Will engage in people pleasing behaviors with those who attempt to challenge them or pretend that what they said was misunderstood.
  • Will attempt to subvert or curtail potential criticism by publicly denouncing or defending behaviors they are guilty of.
  • Will always present their intentions as altruistic but their actions will not match their behavior.
  • Will project false imperfection or vulnerability to generate sympathy.
  • Will actively seek constant public validation for their actions and lifestyle.
  • Exhibits empathy as a means of getting validation in return.
  • Limited understanding of boundaries and may overshare sensitive details of their life in a way that makes others uncomfortable (e.g. sex life, marriage woes, etc. and does so in a way that is meant to garner sympathy from their followers [supply]).
  • Abandons their real-life responsibilities (such as their children) to pursue a “spiritual mission.”
  • Engages with or promotes conspirituality.

Learn more about narcissistic empaths.

A narcissist can exhibit both of these types of narcissism. They don’t have to be just one or the other, though they may typically be predominantly, or they may become overt or covert depending on who they are with.

Learn how to tell if a spiritual teacher is credible. 

Please use this list and all of the links included here as a guide to help you discern between the wolves and the shepherds in the spiritual community.

Xo,

Ash

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