How to Know if your Spiritual Teacher is a Narcissist

How to Know if your Spiritual Teacher is a Narcissist

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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Trauma-Informed Spirituality

Trauma-Informed Spirituality

Trauma-Informed Spirituality

Not all forms of modern spirituality are equal. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have talked a lot about toxic spirituality, especially lately, and have always held up fear-based beliefs or otherwise questionable spiritual ideas for scrutiny and examination.

The main issue with toxic spirituality is that it lacks the kind of nuance which is required for it to be applicable to the lived experiences of all individuals on the planet, which is somewhat ironic considering the entire purpose of existence, according to New Agers, is to live and experience.

According to the Buddha, and many other mainstream religions, as well as Friedrich Nietzsche, to live is to suffer.

At least we call agree there: life on earth as we know it is inherently traumatic.

And yet, modern forms of religion and New Age spirituality, particularly in the West, have a tendency to gloss over this trauma and encourage people to ignore it, think positive, and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Trauma-Informed Spirituality

Trauma-informed spirituality acknowledges the impacts of trauma in individual life experiences. Rather than dismissing trauma through overly-simplistic spiritual concepts, trauma-informed spirituality accounts for nuance and trauma’s impact on the nervous system and aims to create a safe container for individuals with trauma to reconnect with and feel safe in their own skin. In order for them to do that, the practitioners and communities themselves must be well-versed in the ways that trauma affects the nervous system and the impact this has on mental health, as well as tactics for creating safe environments. Its goal is to utilize spiritual philosophies and practices to aid in the healing process.

Trauma-informed spirituality understands the connection between trauma and society, as well as ancestral trauma and the ways this trauma is passed down from generation to generation through familial relationships and cultural climates. It takes into account the kinds of trauma that people may face depending on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or any combination of those things.

Trauma-Informed Spiritual Practitioners

Trauma-informed spiritual practitioners not only understand how trauma impacts one’s thoughts, they also understand its ongoing influence on the nervous system and know how to recognize the signs of a trauma response in progress.

Trauma-informed spiritual practitioners look at their practices through this lens, whether it be a physical or emotional healing practice, or forms of divination.

For example:

  • a trauma-informed astrologer or tarot reader has a thorough understanding of nuance when it comes to victim-shaming and creates a safe container for their clients.
  • a trauma-informed reiki practitioner or somatic healer understands the nuances of touch as they pertain to victims of physical trauma.
  • trauma informed spiritual practitioners understand how certain triggers may affect a client and are careful with any material that may feel threatening to a client’s nervous system.
  • trauma-informed spiritual practitioners are aware of the power dynamics at play in the practitioner/client relationship and understand their role in wielding that power responsibly.

Trauma-informed spiritual practitioners have a thorough understanding of boundaries and personal safety, and can guide their clients back to a sense safety during a trauma response to avoid retraumatization and aid their clients in safely processing that trauma.

Most importantly, a trauma-informed practitioner has identified and worked on their own trauma so that it does not complicate their ability to work with others.

When you consider that everyone has some form of trauma, and that trauma is at the root of almost all of our societal issues, the importance of becoming trauma-informed, especially when working with others in a spiritual guidance or healing capacity, becomes abundantly clear.

Tips for Creating a Trauma-Informed Spiritual Practice

  1. Thoroughly understand the nuances of healthy boundaries
  2. Learn to identify signs of trauma responses: fight, freeze, flight, or fawn
  3. Consult with clients about their triggers and trauma history before a session
  4. Learn about the mental and emotional struggles that trauma victims face, including societal backlash
  5. Work through your own trauma first
  6. Understand that you may not be qualified to work with every kind of trauma

 

Xo,

Ash

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Look up the meanings behind commonly used spiritual terminology and concepts in the Spirituality Encyclopedia.

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

How Some Spiritual Beliefs Breed Codependency

Since January, I’ve been “inspired” quite a bit to write about modern New Age spirituality’s relationship with narcissism, which is quite strong these days.

In my previous post “How Separation Consciousness Masks Itself In Spirituality” I talked about how Individualism in the West creates a me-centric version of spirituality which ignores the fact that we are co-creating with a collective, places the greatest emphasis on the self, and ultimately results in a form of overt spiritual narcissism/god complex where adherents believe they are literally the center of their own universe and everyone else on the planet is just something they manifested. This, of course, lends itself to a severe lack of empathy and social responsibility, because they then believe that everyone else on the planet has manifested their circumstances and simply need to change their thinking to manifest their way out.

A couple of weeks ago, I also posted in-depth about narcissistic empaths, how codependency is really a form of covert narcissism, and how this kind of “empath” and narcissism are actually two sides of the same narcissistic coin.

In today’s post, I’m taking all of these topics one step further and discussing how some very common concepts in New Age spirituality come from and create codependent mentalities.

What is Codependency?

Codependency: a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity.

Like with narcissism, there’s a lot to unpack with codependency and a lot of it overlaps, depending on the specific situation. The most important aspects of note with regard to spirituality are:

Codependents often feel responsible for how other people feel and that underlying feeling of distress (usually guilt or shame attached to the subconscious belief that they are the cause of the other person’s emotional state) pushes them to want to “fix” the other person’s emotions and thus, regulate the energy in the room.

This is often confused for empathy, but it’s important to distinguish that the codependent isn’t actually feeling the other person’s emotions or acting out of care or empathy, they’re driven by their own sense of shame and guilt and the underlying motivation is to alleviate their own uncomfortable emotions, not those of the other person. And this is why codependency can be considered another form of narcissism: because this action is driven by self-interest and the other person’s emotions are (subconsciously) seen as an extension of the self.

How Spirituality Can Breed Codependency

Similar to how certain concepts in spirituality can breed a form of narcissism, those same concepts can also breed codependency.

  • You are the absolute creator of your reality
  • You are responsible for all of your negative experiences
  • Your scarcity mentality is responsible for your financial situation
  • No one will love you until you love yourself

Each of these platitudes encourages extreme independence from reality. So what happens when you buy into this mentality, you work on yourself, and things in your life don’t magically shift?

You probably being to use your external reality as a measuring stick for how healed you are. And any time someone or some situation shows up that creates discomfort, you ask yourself, “What haven’t I healed?”

I caught myself doing this recently with a connection to someone who, for all intents and purposes, is toxic, but whose energy won’t seem to leave me alone. It actually started to drive me a little bit batshit. I had cut cords a thousand times. I had healed. I had grieved. I had released. I had forgiven. I had moved on. And yet, we are still psychically linked for inexplicable reasons, and it bubbles up to the surface periodically.

Then one night in the shower it occurred to me: it’s not me. I’m not the problem. I’m not the one hanging on–it’s them. They haven’t completed their end of this karmic bargain by cleaning up after the consequences of their actions.

I had a similar realization when I was trying to date and 90% of the men I met were still awful. I thought it was me–that I hadn’t healed enough yet to attract great men. I was taking all of the responsibility for the people that I was running into on the street, more or less. Every terrible interaction was somehow a reflection of what was wrong with me. The truth was…it wasn’t me. It was them. There’s just a lot of shitty men out there and my healing had no effect on that percentage. I just had a much lower tolerance for their bullshit.

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!

I’d momentarily forgotten that we are co-creating our reality and that I don’t have any control over other people (or the world, for that matter). I only have agency over myself.

This idea that we are the supreme manifestors of our life and our reality teaches us that we are responsible for the toxic, abusive people and situations that come into our lives, that those people are reflections of us and whatever is unhealed within us, and that somehow, through obsessive self healing, we’ll be able to change that, or in the case of a lot of Twin Flame trash, that we’ll be able to heal another person…(how’s that for codependent thinking). And when it doesn’t happen, how much guilt and shame do you feel over your inability to succeed?

The reality is that healing ourselves doesn’t change what kinds of people or situations come into our lives–we can’t control or manipulate people in that way, and it’s quite delusional to think that we can or do.

There’s a difference between using situations in our lives as opportunities for self-reflection, and assuming that every situation is a reflection.

Healing teaches us discernment, and how to not find ourselves attracted to those people and situations. It teaches us boundaries and self-respect. And when you implement those changes in your life, you’ll choose differently, and certainly more wisely. It doesn’t mean you won’t still have to wade through a sea of garbage people to find gold, because a lot of the people on this planet are still holding shit energy, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Xo,

Ash

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Trauma-Informed Spirituality

How Separation Consciousness Masks Itself In Spiritual Unity

How Separation Consciousness Masks Itself In Spiritual Unity

In the spiritual community, we talk a lot about oneness and unity, and you may occasionally hear the term “separation consciousness.”

Separation consciousness is a lower level of awareness wherein a person cannot perceive the interconnectedness of all beings or their connection to their own divinity and God/Source.

You’ll see a lot of New Agers refer to this as the reason why we aren’t able to recognize our spiritual oneness and they will attribute it to the human ego, but separation consciousness goes much deeper than just the energetic and personal level, it’s also manifested into the world around us as tribalism. We have different groups and factions that see themselves as being independent of one another, and in many instances, diametrically opposed, for example, Republicans vs. Democrats, capitalism vs. socialism, fascism vs. communism, etc.

Within the spiritual community, the concept of a diametric opposition in and of itself is often labeled as separation consciousness, but what many of these people don’t realize is that much of their own doctrine is also infiltrated by separation consciousness.

Individualism in the West

Individualism is a social theory that places heavy emphasis on self worth, self-reliance, individuality, personal freedom, and personal responsibility. It is extremely evident in Western culture, particularly in the United States. The very concept of the American Dream–that if one works hard enough, they will achieve prosperity–is rooted in individualistic thinking.

This in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s healthy for people to have a personal sense of independence rather than being codependent, being self-reliant is a valuable skill to cultivate, and we do all need to have a healthy sense of responsibility for ourselves.

That said, when the values of individualism are taken to an extreme, it becomes toxic just like anything else. Extreme individualism assumes that everyone in the collective is independently responsible for their own circumstances. One’s worth to the collective is often measured by their level of material success and that worth is largely expected to be earned and proven by hard work. In other words, this line of thinking correlates a person’s worth as a human being with their ability to produce goods and amass wealth.

Extreme individualism dehumanizes people by only valuing their economic output. It ignores or dismisses complex social factors and systemic oppression, and implies that anyone who has been systemically disadvantaged is simply lazy–i.e. unworthy. This is nowhere more apparent than in the prosperity gospel preached by many Christian Evangelicals that says god rewards good people with financial success, which automatically implies that poor people are unworthy of God’s love (even though Jesus himself said blessed are the poor…).

Extreme individualism also often leaves the individualist feeling as though they owe nothing to the collective other than to be a hard worker, which allows them to avoid social responsibility and accountability. This, of course, also allows the individualist to avoid having to feel responsible or be held accountable for the way their actions may affect the collective they live in.

Any time someone chooses “my rights” and “my freedoms” over and above what is good for the whole of society, they are acting from separation consciousness.

Westernized (Americanized) Spirituality

Extreme individualism is antithetical to unity consciousness, because it values one’s self above the collective. It doesn’t view the collective holistically as “one.”

This philosophy shows up in spirituality most often dressed as Law of Attraction, manifestation, and extreme personal empowerment rhetoric:

  • You are the absolute creator of your reality
  • Energy flows where attention goes / what you pay attention to becomes real
  • You are responsible for all of your negative experiences
  • Your scarcity mentality is responsible for your financial situation
  • No one will love you until you love yourself
  • Surround yourself with people who are living the lifestyle you want to have

These concepts reinforce unworthiness, ignore collective karma, disregard the effects of trauma and abuse, and dismiss the consequences of societal structures that oppress others by assuming that the oppressed have a victim mentality and are simply manifesting their own abuse. You are not responsible for your trauma, but you are responsible for healing your trauma, and in order for trauma to be healed and abusive karmic cycles to end, abusers must be held accountable along with the culture that enables them.

Learn why we don’t manifest abuse.

The idea that we are the absolute creators of our reality is an especially obvious example of separation consciousness because it completely ignores the existence of everyone else on the planet and is the polar opposite of the much touted concept in spirituality that “we are all connected.” You are the absolute creator of your thoughts and beliefs about reality only after you’ve deconditioned yourself from childhood and societal programming and healed your trauma. However, you are not the absolute creator of your physical reality and your actions have real repercussions and consequences that affect other people.

“Energy flows where attention goes” and “what you pay attention to becomes your reality” applies on an energetic level and within your belief systems, and only manifests in the real world through the actions (or inactions) that you take with regard to those belief systems. If one is not careful of how they apply this platitude, it can greatly contribute to spiritual and emotional bypassing. It is the core belief that results in spiritual people ignoring acts of violence, abuse, and systemic oppression.

In spirituality, we recognize that every human being is inherently worthy of being loved, even the ones we don’t necessarily like. That worthiness also extends to having their basic survival needs met. Love and survival isn’t something that human beings should have to earn.

The concept that we should have to earn love, as well as the perception of good and evil comes from separation consciousness:

When we incarnate here, we forget who we really are (that we are love and that everything is love) and in that forgetfulness, we have the perception that there is a lack of love–that love is scarce.

 

Fear-based belief systems are rooted in duality–the concept that there is a polarization of good and evil. They have not yet recognized that the foundation of the Universe is love, and the only thing that makes it appear as fear is their own limited understanding of it. – Why Fear-Based Beliefs Are Distorted

Individualism is also largely behind the explosion of The Secret and Law of Attraction and why business coaches have now integrated manifestation techniques into their marketing rhetoric as business gimmicks. These people have no true commitment to inner work because they are primarily motivated by desire, success, and money.

This attitude is also extremely evident in hustle culture, which reinforces individualistic philosophy, consistently shames people for not being productive, and neglects the importance of self-care and balance. When you say “surround yourself with people who are living the lifestyle you want to have” as applied to material wealth, it eliminates the perspectives the majority of the (poor) people in the collective and “others” them as unworthy of your time and attention. Instead, I suggest you surround yourself with people who demonstrate the values you wish to embody: integrity, depth, accountability, authenticity, humility.

Learn about materialistic spirituality.

Finally, from a spiritual perspective, our sense of individuality is our ego and it is the literal mechanism that allows us to experience separateness. When one only recognizes themselves as the absolute god of their individual physical reality, and does not recognize that everyone else on the planet is co-creating a physical existence along with them because we are all, collectively, God, well that’s the ultimate level of narcissism and the epitome of separation consciousness.

Spiritual Hierarchies

The hierarchical view of spirituality that labels some beings as more advanced or more enlightened than others is another way separation consciousness can show up in spirituality.

When narcissism invades spirituality, labels like lightworker and ascended master, psychic, intuitive, empath, incarnate angel, etc. become avenues for people to set themselves apart from everyone else–mainly by presenting the illusion that they are “better than.”

Pay attention who uses these labels and how much humility they express. Anyone using them as an avenue to accrue power, authority, or attention are operating from separation consciousness.

Healthy Interdependence

When you lean too far in one direction, individualism becomes materialistic selfishness and narcissism, and can also lead people to become too independent and avoid meaningful connection. Human beings are social creatures. We need each other, and we require connection in order to be mentally healthy. But when you go too far in the other direction it manifests as codependent relationships, neediness, energetic vampirism, and entitlement. For this reason, individualism espouses some important concepts that can be valuable when they are recognized in their proper context and not taken to an extreme.

In order for us to have a healthy sense of individuality, we must find balance and recognize the importance of healthy interdependence. While we are all individuals, we are also incredibly interconnected and our actions affect one another. This is what spirituality is attempting to teach us. This is unity consciousness.

Many of the concepts I mentioned earlier that spiritual people attempt to shun or avoid in the name of oneness because they view them to be dualistic and diametrically opposed are, in reality, unity consciousness opposing separation consciousness.

By condemning or avoiding these things, the spiritual community is actually engaging in spiritual bypassing and preventing the very ascension they claim to be here to facilitate!

Learn about spiritual bypassing and ascension.

We have to observe the lesson in the energies of Aquarius where the individual is valued just as much as the individual’s contribution to the collective. Aquarius recognizes that our unique gifts and experiences are our very contribution to that collective.

Start asking yourself some important questions:

  • Where have I been embodying separation consciousness in my spirituality?
  • Where have I been embodying separation consciousness in other areas of my beliefs and attitudes?
  • Who are the people promoting separation consciousness in the form of extreme individualism?
  • How can I bring myself back into balance and support the liberation of the collective, not just myself?
Xo,

Ash

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