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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On Cancelling Cancel Culture

On Cancelling Cancel Culture

On Cancelling Cancel Culture

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase “cancel culture,” and I’m sure you’re aware that it’s yet another aspect of the perceived culture wars in America. There’s been a lot of national discussion and politicization around the concept, and I see support for the idea of cancelling cancel culture seep into the spiritual community in various forms, usually under the guise of “everyone is on their own journey” or “we have no right to judge another’s path” or something like that.

That said, I also notice that a lot of people talking about cancel culture don’t seem to actually understand what it is and they’re making a very dangerous conflation that, in the end, would rob a great number of people from an opportunity for spiritual growth, perpetuate division, and is antithetical to one of spirituality’s main goals: unity consciousness.

Let’s explore!

What is Cancel Culture?

Cancel culture (also termed “call-out culture”) has been generally defined as many things, including, but not limited to:

  • Online or public shaming
  • Deplatforming people with ideas that are deemed unpopular or harmful
  • A form of social ostracism where someone experiences real consequences for their thoughts and opinions, such as losing their job
  • Censorship

There’s a lot of sociological nuance involved around these subjects which I find to be severely lacking in public discourse, and that’s partly the reason why I wanted to touch on it myself.

A lot of people are not going to like what I have to say about this, particularly people who think that cancel culture inhibits free speech, discussion, and debate.

People in positions of power who knowingly espouse ideologies, beliefs, attitudes, and biases that are directly harmful other groups of people should absolutely be canceled. People in positions of power who unknowingly espouse ideologies, beliefs, attitudes, and biases that are directly harmful to other groups of people and who refuse to educate themselves about why those things are harmful should also be cancelled. And in fact, the US Constitution has already cancelled a lot of those people, which we’ll get to in a minute.

This is the paradox of tolerance: The one thing a tolerant society cannot tolerate is intolerance. If a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized and destroyed by the intolerant.

In other words, if we ever want to build a society that is tolerant, free, and healthy, we need to stamp out intolerance wherever we see it, because if we don’t, it perpetuates itself and continues to drive division.

But before we can do this successfully, our entire society needs to undergo a massive education about what intolerance actually is. The rest of this post is what that education looks like.

The Dangers of Cancelling

There’s a couple of really harmful side-effects of cancel culture that need to be recognized and taken into account. A common instance of canceling involves someone digging up and exposing a video or written piece by someone from several years ago expressing cultural beliefs and opinions that are not deemed acceptable by today’s standards.

This is harmful for a number of reasons. For one, society and culture are changing rapidly. It may not look like it in the moment, and certain themes are changing slower than others, but overall, the world is definitely not the same place it was 20 years ago. Need proof? Just watch any comedy movie from the 90s. A good chunk of the jokes and many of the social situations that were made light of in those movies would never see the light of day by today’s standards. And that’s a good thing, because many of them were socially harmful to vulnerable groups like women and LGBTQ+.

Pop culture’s vast evolution of the last 20 years is a reflection of the evolution of our society. We’ve all grow and changed, too, and for many of us, our core views have as well. When we judge someone by a video or something they wrote years ago without taking into account their views today, we risk ostracizing people who may have actually already grappled with their discriminatory beliefs and attitudes. We have to be willing to give people the opportunity for growth.

A second major danger with cancel culture is how public it is. Many times, cancel culture leads to doxing. If you’re unfamiliar with doxing, it’s the practice of finding private information about someone and publishing it for all to see. Doxing in and of itself may not necessarily always be bad, but it’s extraordinarily bad in cases of mistaken identity where the wrong person is identified, or the person is doxed for something that is completely unproven. This has led to completely innocent people receiving death threats and harassment.

We can’t operate under a mob mentality, even if and when we have good intentions.

Misconceptions About Cancel Culture

Now I want to talk about all the ways that cancel culture is being used as an umbrella to shield deserving targets from the consequences of their actions, and subsequently rob them of an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Since the summer of 2020, we saw people being fired, losing corporate sponsorships, and experiencing other consequences of violent and racist behavior. There have been many people labeling this as cancel culture, and it absolutely is not. Why?

Businesses in the US, both private and public, are given the discretion to hire and fire who they want, for whatever reason they want, so long as it doesn’t discriminate against those individuals on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, or national origin. By this same law, those businesses are legally bound to protect their employees from discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, and national origin.

Another driving factor in who a company hires (or fires) is company values. Company values are the foundational beliefs and qualities that a company holds which direct everything from company policy, to product development, to branding, to company culture. If an individual who works for a company exhibits behaviors that are out of line with a company’s values, the company has every right to let that person go (again, so long as it’s not discriminating against them based on one fo the things outlined above).

So when you have individuals on video exhibiting violent behavior or expressing “opinions” which are clearly rooted in subconscious bias or bigotry, one must assume that this person is bringing those same behaviors and opinions to work with them every day, and that those behaviors and opinions have already created a hostile work environment for other employees. The person expressing those opinions then becomes a liability to the company, because they are opening the company up to a potential discrimination lawsuit, and it’s in the company’s best interest (and the company culture’s best interest, and the other employees’ best interest) to eliminate that liability.

If they had expressed any of those “opinions” or behaviors within the walls of where they work, they’d be fired. And by displaying those opinions and behaviors publicly, on video (fully knowing they are being recorded), they are demonstrating that 1) they are unconcerned if anyone finds out and 2) they are knowingly bringing attention to themselves, their behaviors, and their opinions in such a way that it doesn’t matter if they are in a work environment or not. They’ve made their conduct public knowledge and damaged the company reputation by association.

These people aren’t being “cancelled.” They are experiencing the real-world consequences of their attitudes and actions. Actions have consequences. It is the epitome of entitlement and privilege to believe that one is somehow exempt from being held accountable for those actions.

The same goes for celebrities losing endorsements, for companies pulling funding, etc. etc. They have the right to dissociate themselves with anyone or anything that is not in alignment with their company/brand values, or anything that would create a hostile or discriminatory work environment or culture.

All of this applies to social media companies as well because they are businesses, too! A social media company crafts a set of terms and conditions for the usage of its platform that is in alignment with its company’s core values. So if a user of that platform violates the terms and conditions, they are also out of alignment with the company’s core values, and the company has the discretion to suspend or ban that user. As long as there are no government regulations place on that industry’s standards and practices, they are free to do whatever they want.

A lot of people (mistakenly) believe their First Amendment right to free speech somehow entitles them to free speech in the corporate realm. It doesn’t. You know why?

The United States Supreme Court has given corporations (most of) the same constitutional rights as people. That means that they are just as protected by the First Amendment as you are, but with the additional regulation that they cannot discriminate based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, and national origin.

All the first amendment means for you, as a person, is that the government can’t legally censor you. A business can censor you all day long as long as you’re standing on their property, be it physical, digital, or intellectual. So all of those people talking about how Orwellian it is for Twitter to be able to deplatform Donald Trump? They’re totally confused. 1984 was about government censorship, not corporate censorship, and Twitter has had the power to do this all along because America’s disdain for corporate regulation gave it to them.

This also applies to business-to-business companies and publishing houses. If a person or company is utilizing a service provided by another company, and it violates that company’s terms of service or core values, the company providing the service has every right to discontinue the contract. The Supreme Court set this precedent when it allowed a Colorado bakery to deny service to a gay couple on the basis of religious/moral values, and it also applies to businesses who refuse to serve anyone not wearing a mask, and business who chooses to end their contracts with politicians and celebrities who do and say anything that business doesn’t want to be associated with.

There’s really no other way to say it: if someone’s beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and actions are in any way based on conscious discrimination or subconscious bias, you’re not protected by the First Amendment at work because it doesn’t cover hate speech, the business itself has the exact same constitutional right that we all do, and it’s in direct conflict to the The Civil Rights Act, which protects vulnerable populations from discrimination at work.

The fact that a person isn’t aware of their subconscious bias or how it relates to their beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and actions doesn’t matter. That’s a personal problem because they refuse to educate themselves, not the law’s problem.

The law exists specifically to protect vulnerable populations from people like them, so by continuing to publicly espouse those ideas, they are in fact cancelling themselves, because the law has been the law since 1964, and their ignorance of it (and of their own bias) does not absolve them from their actions.

What is Bias?

Time for another sociology lesson! One of the biggest issues we have regarding sexism and racism is that no one understands what bias is…so I’m going to break it down for you.

Racism/Sexism, bigotry, and bias are three separate, but interrelated things.

The “isms”–racism and sexism–are the systemic power dynamics which one race or sex holds over another. We live in a world that was built specifically to oppress women and people of color, and while we have created some laws and enacted certain reforms in an attempt to rectify this, much of the structure is still at work. The people who benefit from maintaining this structure the most are white and male (and cisgender, heteronormativ).

Anyone who defends or upholds this structure, be they bigoted or biased, are considered racists and sexists. This is why we say that a person of color can never be racist: they do not have the societal power to systemically oppress white people–because it lies with white people. Likewise, women can’t be sexist. Reverse racism and reverse sexism are a structural impossibility, because a group of oppressed people simply do not have the collective systemic power to oppress their oppressors. When people talk about reverse-racism and reverse-sexism, what they are actually talking about is bigotry.

Bigotry is an overt prejudice, or an openly hateful attitude toward someone of a group other than yours. Women who hate men are bigoted toward men and get their own special label as well: misandrists. Black people who hate white people are bigoted toward white people. And likewise, white people who hate Black people are bigots, and men who hate women get their own special label: misogynists. People often use the term racist when talking about bigots, and indeed, racist does encompass bigotry. White supremacists are both racists and bigots. Not all racists, however, are bigots.

This leads us to our third category: bias. Bias is a covert or subconscious prejudice against other groups to which you do not belong. Everyone is biased. Literally everyone, regardless of your sex or skin color. You have subconscious programming (i.e. beliefs and attitudes) about everything. Those racists who are not bigots, but still defend and uphold the white power structure? They’re biased. The sexists who are not misogynists who defend and uphold the male power structure? They’re also biased.

These are the white people out there who think they have to be burning crosses to be racist and have absolutely no idea that their behavior is, in fact, biased (and racist). These are the men out there who think that they love women and also think that women should take cat-calling as a compliment, and the white people who keep insisting they aren’t racist and yelling “all lives matter.”

These actions are what we call microaggressions and they create a climate of hostility within our society. This is where the most confusion, and the most insidious abuse in society lies, and it’s the kind of thing that the concept of anti-racism is meant to tackle.
Bias is baked into our society, because our cultures themselves are built upon socially accepted stigmas and stereotypes that subconsciously program us with beliefs and attitudes about certain groups of people. Those stigmas and stereotypes are fed to us every day through our own media and culture.

As noted earlier on, as a society, we are becoming more conscious of these stereotypes and how they are portrayed and slowly beginning to make change, but it’s going to take a long time to dismantle them and subsequently deprogram our society.

Racism and misogyny can also be internalized by those who are victims of it.

Because of these pervasive, subliminal messages we receive from society, many people who are actually oppressed by these concepts end up internalizing them and viewing them as “correct.” Women who say things like “I hate feminists” have internalized misogyny. Black people who are against Black Lives Matter have internalized racism (and are often trotted out as the token examples of “This Black person who agrees with [insert covert racist concept here]”).

Why do these things become internalized? As noted earlier, a lot of it is completely normalized within our culture itself. Professional dress codes at work, for example, are inherently more rigorous for women than men, because women are expected to wear makeup, jewelry, heels, and dress up, whereas men only have to put on a pair of slacks and a collared shirt. If a woman were to walk into a job interview with no makeup, no jewelry, wearing a pair of slacks and a casual dress shirt, she wold automatically be judged more harshly than other women who wore makeup, because that’s what our entire society as a whole expects. And that’s a double standard.

It’s all of these double standards and subconscious biases that have the most insidious effects on the individuals subjected to them. It’s why women disproportionately struggle with body image and eating disorders. It’s why Black people are disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated.

What’s it all got to do with spirituality? I’ll tell you: spirituality is the examination and subsequent integration of the subconscious aspects of ourselves. The very nature of spiritual self-inquiry requires us to examine our subconscious bias.

Spirituality devoid of anti-racism work is not spirituality. Spirituality devoid of anti-misogyny work is not spirituality. It’s spiritual bypassing. The same goes for every other bias you may hold, whether it’s bias toward LGBTQ+, ableism, ageism, xenophobia, or any other kind of ism. As a spiritual person, it is also your duty to help liberate the people who are oppressed by these systems.

Calling Out vs. Calling In

Now that we’ve established what is and isn’t cancelling, and what the grounds for it are, let’s talk about the appropriate way to go about it. Cancel culture is also known as “call out culture,” and lately there’s been some counter movement toward something called “calling in” instead of calling out.

Calling Out: the practice of issuing a direct challenge or criticism of someone’s words, attitudes, or behavior.

Calling In: the practice of engaging in thoughtful discussion about someone’s behavior, asking questions, and attempting to understand their perspective and gently call their bias into question.

Calling out and calling in are both necessary and useful tools for social change. You just have to know when is the right moment to use each one.

Calling out is necessary when someone is in a position of power or authority and they are abusing that power, or they are exhibiting overt bigotry, and even in some cases of covert bias. If we don’t, they continue to abuse that power and authority and harm others, even their own followers in the case of social media influencers. We enable them when we say nothing.

Calling in is useful when it’s obvious that the person is simply ignorant of their own bias (which is literally all of them) and that person is not in a position of power or authority where their behavior can be directly and immediately harmful. It’s easier to call in people who are on the same level as you, with regard to power balances. It’s harder to call in people who are above you. It is absolutely your responsibility to call in people who you are in a direct position of authority over.

As we established at the beginning of this post, some people, especially in the spiritual community, think that calling out is akin to public shaming, and therefore, invalid. Let’s clarify that shame is about who you are and guilt is about what you did. You can call out a person’s actions without shaming them as a bad person. Shame and guilt are naturally occurring human emotions and as such, serve a purpose to motivate us to do better when it isn’t being used by an abuser as a tool to manipulate.

Using spiritual concepts to avoid feelings of guilt or sitting with shame is spiritual bypassing, and not confronting harmful (bigoted or biased) messaging, attitudes, and behaviors when you see them is what allows these structures to continue.

It’s just as important to be aware of your own motivations for calling someone out. Are you doing it to shame, or are you doing it to protect the vulnerable by raising awareness?

 

Xo,

Ash

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Spirituality’s Relationship With Mental Illness

Spirituality’s Relationship With Mental Illness

Spirituality’s Relationship With Mental Illness

Spirituality and mental illness have a complex relationship. My goal today is to talk about mental illness within the spiritual community in a way that can help those of you reading this recognize just how pervasive it is in the spiritual community and help you identify spiritual people–psychics, channels, influencers, whomever–suffering from mental illness, all the while without stigmatizing it.

I’m going to rely a lot on personal experiences to try to demonstrate this, both my own as well as those of a friend with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder).

Mental illness encompasses a very wide variety of experiences that affect emotions, mood, thinking, or behavior, including common afflictions like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders to more severe ones that affect a person’s ability to accurately perceive and interpret reality to varying degrees, such as body dysmorphia or schizophrenia. Even drug addiction is considered a mental illness.

Mental illness is a lot more common than you might think, it’s just that a lot of people don’t talk about it because of the stigmas associated with it. There’s been a concerted effort in the last few years to destigmatize mental illness and create a more pervasive conversation around how common of an experience it is. It is estimated that 19% of adults in the US experience some type of mental illness in any given year. I have personally experienced disordered eating, body dysmorphia, PTSD/C-PTSD, anxiety, panic, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Mental illness doesn’t have to be something permanent. All of us experience emotional ills in the form of depression and anxiety from time to time, just like we might catch a cold every couple of years. Other mental health issues which are more long standing in nature, or which appear to be so deeply ingrained that they are almost a part of someone’s personality may be classified as some kind of disorder.

Spirituality and Mental Illness

In the mainstream, the same stigma applied to mental illness is often applied to spiritual experiences, both of which induce shame. There’s some merit to the idea that at least some aspect of some mental illness is more so a spiritual disease than a physical one–or that some things which are classified as symptoms of mental illness are actually spiritual in nature. The idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is a myth that was popularized by pharmaceutical companies to sell prescription antidepressants. In reality, psychiatry in general recognizes that disorders are not strictly chemical in nature, but are the result of a complex combination of physical, psychological, and social factors.

If you define spirituality the way that I do, as the intersection between science, psychology, and philosophy (which includes sociology), that means that mental illness does overlap with spirituality. The fact that social and psychological factors (i.e. trauma) are involved means that spirituality is part of a holistic approach to viewing mental illness. It also means that prescription drugs can be an effective and helpful aspect of treatment, when they are administered responsibly as part of a balanced approach.

Psychology only knows what something presents as on the outside. Psychology does not fully understand that different presentations of “symptoms” may have multiple causes, some of which may actually be completely normal manifestations of psychic activity rather than delusions brought on by mental illness. It’s a very complex subject and we have to use a great deal of discernment in our approach to undrestand our own experiences and those of others.

The problem is that we don’t necessarily have a balanced, holistic approach to mental health at the moment.

There’s a tendency toward over-medication on the clinical side that is a result of a culture that wants an easy way out in the form of a pill that will fix everything rather than addressing the personal, social, and cultural factors that largely contribute to trauma at the root of much mental illness.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s a lot of anti-science people in the spiritual community who view the pharmaceutical industry as evil, and by proxy, the doctors who prescribe them, and they completely dismiss the decades of scientific research behind drug discovery. In other words, they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Their real problem is with business practices in the pharmaceutical industry, not the science. Their problem is with unregulated capitalism, not science. Science’s only agenda is discovery.

That lack of distinction in the spiritual community not only leads to a lot of very harmful misinformation and propaganda during times of global health crises, but it also leads people who are experiencing mental health issues to believe that their experiences are actually (only) spiritual in nature, and thus, they don’t even recognize the need to seek professional help.

Narcissism and Spirituality

As I mentioned earlier, there are some forms of mental illness which affect a person’s ability to accurately perceive and interpret reality to varying degrees, and some of these mental illnesses cripple that individual’s ability to even recognize their own mental illness. Narcissism is one of those mental illnesses, and, along with sociopathy/psychopathy, is a mental illness that lends itself to a desire to hold power over others. Because of this, people with these kinds of mental illnesses are disproportionately attracted to positions of power.

For example, between .5% and 1% of the total population is estimated to have a narcissistic personality (of which 50% to 75% are male), however, various studies suggest that anywhere between 4% and 20% of people in leadership roles are narcissistic personalities, and that proportion may be on the higher end in areas where that leadership is self-appointed, such as with social media influencers.

Learn how to spot spiritual leaders with these kinds of personalities.

This doesn’t just apply to New Age spirituality, it also applies to religion. Prime example:

My dad exhibits signs of undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

In 2015 or so, he started saying really odd things. He first told me that he invented a generator that produced free energy. Then he told me how he was experimenting with growing plants by putting essential oils on them. Then he started texting me and telling me to take all of my money out of the bank and buy enough food to last for six months because Jesus was coming back in October and the stock market was going to crash and there was going to be martial law… (which is not unlike the doomsday fears of QAnon adherents after Biden’s inauguration).

 

Eventually he started his own church where he spoke in tongues and believed he had the power to cast demons out of people. Most of the congregation was made up of drug addicts and people who’ve been in and out of jail. In other words, vulnerable people looking for acceptance.

 

“God” told him that he was going to start a revival that would unite all church denominations and go on until the rapture came. He believes he has divine revelations that other people do not have access to.

 

Anybody who didn’t obey him, particularly if it was a woman, was “rebellious” and had a demon because “to follow the man is to follow god” and he would systematically begin to discredit them and attempt to turn others against them.

 

He believed that he had the ability to heal people, and told me how he healed a pastor from cancer.

 

Then he ambushed me in a public parking lot and attempted to cast a demon out of me… because I was getting a divorce. He was having an out-loud, two-way conversation with the “demon” that he believed had hold over me.

 

At the height of the pandemic in the spring, he started texting me (again) telling me how this was the end times and martial law was going to be declared. “Watch. I will be right.”

I’ve recounted in a couple of posts an encounter I had with a guy who exhibited similar behavior which you can read here. That actually occurred before everything went down with my dad, so I had a sense of what it was as it was happening.

Both of them are preying on people who are in vulnerable states by abusing their self-appointed spiritual authority, and this happens within the spiritual community frequently.

Learn how to spot spiritual abuse.

Aside from the two stories above, I’ve witnessed countless other examples of this kind of mental illness and spiritual abuse.

When I first began my spiritual path, I found a sense of community with a Facebook group built around another blogger who was writing and posting about channeling. Eventually, that blogger themselves demonstrated signs of mental illness and many many many people in the group (which was a few thousand people) did as well.

There were people in this group who believed they were being physically attacked at night by spirits. There were people who believed they were being sexually molested by spirits. There were people in the group who believed they were the reincarnation of religious and historical figures. There were people who believed that dead celebrities were their twin flames. There were several (I forget where the count ended, but I think it was somewhere around six at the time I left) women who believed that the spirit being channeled was their twin flame. Some of them posted regularly in the group about perceived sexual experiences they were having with said channeled entity, some of them went on to become alleged channelers themselves and pass along messages to other people in the group from this channeled entity, some of which included telling those people they were demonically possessed.

It was a very common occurrence for someone to come into the group completely green to psychic development and spirituality, and within a matter of weeks or just a couple of months, be giving people psychic readings and spiritual advice, without having any prolonged experience, integration, or any depth of shadow work. Many of them used their self-appointed positions of power to shame or dismiss people who disagreed with them. It’s my understanding that one of those people eventually went on to develop a large following and claimed she was impregnated by archangel Michael and gave birth to a spirit baby.

Learn what you must do before pursuing psychic development.

There were a number of people in the group who were there because they’d lost someone and were looking for answers about the afterlife, and their grief and desperation made many of them prime targets for manipulation by narcissistic personalities.

*** Trigger warning: the following discusses themes around depression and suicide.***

As a member of that group, I personally talked to at least five people who were contemplating suicide. More than a couple of members of that group eventually succeeded. One of them was a young kid, around 20 years old, who told me he’d been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He thought the government was tracking his movements and was suspicious of taking his medication.

He went on and on about things he’d read online, how he’d met his twin flame two weeks prior, and he knew it was his twin flame because he took an online quiz that said so, and it was crystal clear that he had absolutely no sense of discernment–he believed everything he read related to spirituality, word for word, and didn’t question any of it. I tried to convince him that it was okay to take his medication and that he should listen to his parents and doctor. The last time I talked to him, he told me “I’m getting off of this planet before it blows,” and deactivated his Facebook account. To this day, I don’t know if his parents had him committed or if he killed himself.

The problem with this group was that there were very few people in it who had any length of experience with spirituality or mental health. There was no one to ground the group or present alternative points of view–and many times, if an alternate point of view was presented, the group attacked that person–so people who were not familiar with how some forms of mental illness present had no handle bars, either, and were left up to their own devices to try to discern whether or not these people were the real deal. This left them incredibly vulnerable to misinformation, manipulation, and abuse.

Learn how discernment is is key for a grounded form of spirituality.

A number of those people had also experienced serious trauma, including sexual abuse. A lot of the spiritual concepts being talked about were over-simplified and positioned victims as being responsible for their abuse. I don’t need to tell any survivor just how damaging that is, but for those of you reading who do not understand trauma: survivors of abuse often already feel responsible for their abuse. They don’t need spiritual people telling them how they manifested it.

You’ll see a lot of information online that truly vilifies narcissists and sociopaths. In terms of those who’ve been abused by them, the feelings are certainly warranted and a part of the healing process. I would never, ever tell a victim of abuse that they have to forgive their abuser, that they shouldn’t judge their abuser, or that they need to have compassion for their abuser. That said, it is possible others who are not in that position to look at narcissism through a compassionate lens.

Not everyone with mental illness falls into this kind of delusion, but it’s tricky.

I don’t doubt that many of these people are having some spiritual experiences, because all of us do. The problem is not with their experience in and of itself, but rather, their ability to accurately interpret those experiences and discern between what is spiritual in nature and what is a result of the mental illness. The line between those things is not always clear cut.

I’m very happy to be able to give you some perspective on this nuance by including a Q&A from a friend of mine–who for the purposes of anonymity, were going to call Ocey–who is both a member of the spiritual community and someone who has been living with symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

What’s your spiritual practice and how you identify within that?

I’m a follower of Hekate. I see her as the manifestation of Source, of the divine consciousness that permeates all things. I’m also a traditional witch with my practice almost exclusively focusing on shadow and spirit work, as opposed to spell work.

My specific practices are always changing and evolving but I try to regularly spend time in study, in meditation, and creating some kind of art. Recently my practice has been focused on studying comparative mythology and sociology in a way to try to better understand the universe and my role in it.

What is it like living with DID?

I’m so nervous to even talk on the subject of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) because the community isn’t a forgiving one. There’s much debate about what qualifies as official DID and the legitimacy of a self-diagnosis, so I want to say up front I have not been officially diagnosed as DID, although that’s partly by choice, as my therapist has recognized it and is treating me for it. And technically I would be diagnosed as OSDD, Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder, which is a catch-all category of diagnosing for cases who don’t meet the exact criteria for DID.

Dissociative Identity Disorder use to be called ‘multiple personality disorder’ but the name was changed in 1994 to better describe the disorder. It’s not a personality disorder but a dissociative one caused by childhood trauma.

My DID is pretty subtle compared to other cases I’ve read and heard about. I basically experience my consciousness as being multiple. While there are “Others” inside my brain, they mostly feel like me, just “other me’s”. I’ve done a lot of work the past year to try to understand it all better and it’s felt like shadow work boot camp. But we [meaning all identities] are working on understanding triggers and what they mean to us as a single individual. I’m constantly working on ways to express all parts of myself and giving every side a voice, because it seems to be soothing of the symptoms which can range from black outs/missing time to complete breakdowns where I’ll experience paranoia and psychosis. It’s hard but I’m lucky to have a safe place at home and in therapy to try to work through it all. And I count myself lucky because like I said, DID is a spectrum and there are some who suffer from daily amnesia and depersonalization.

Back when you didn’t know you had DID, how did you interpret it through your spiritual lens?

My Others were always very real to me and because of the nature of it and because I was raised in a strict Christian household, I struggled with faith and spirituality my entire life.

Along with having these Others existing inside me, I’ve also experienced interactions with the spirit world my whole life. So before I was aware of the mental aspects of some of what was happening to me, I categorized it all as the same nature.. which was scary. I wasn’t able to separate or distinguish between hallucinations and apparitions, or paranoia and intuition. It was hard to decide what it was I actually believed because my experiences didn’t all make sense together.

When I first kind of put it together that DID is what I’ve been experiencing it was a huge shock. I had a little breakdown. But soon after a lot of things I’ve always struggled with started making sense. Before I had a name for what was happening, I knew there was something. I’ve spent almost the entirety of my adult life trying to understand myself.

It wasn’t until I was married for a few years and had settled down in life when things started becoming apparently amiss. I was realizing there would be huge gaps in the information I knew about myself and my life and gaps in memories, and mostly, my life felt as if I had just been dropped off there yesterday and often felt alien to me.

I was extremely paranoid and had psychosis symptoms, but refused to acknowledge them as anything but spiritual. But, I wasn’t always “myself” so spirituality wasn’t always a consistent part of my life. The fact that I couldn’t explain to myself why I’d go months, years, without having a spiritual care in the world and then suddenly feeling as if that’s all my life is about, really held me back spiritually. I thought I must just be wishy washy and not really care or believe. But the constant contact with spirits and the constant feeling of missing my life or feeling like I’m going through parts of it asleep, left me in a dark place.

I found witchcraft sometime around 2007 and paganism around 2012 and they both set me on a course of self discovery. My entire spiritual practice for the past almost 15 years has basically been just shadow work. And it has led me to where I am now.

And I’m still everyday carefully combing through my thoughts and experiences trying to make sure I categorize them appropriately, because while I believe mental health and spirituality are very closely linked there’s still a distinction and I try hard to make sure I’m making one consciously.

How did you reframe that perspective after you figured this was a mental health issue and how do you navigate your spiritual experiences now?

The hardest part of all of this has been trying to make a distinction between what’s spiritual and what’s mental. A lot of it is inseparable. The biggest way I’d say I’ve reframed my approach to both is I strive for perspective and verification. I realize now that I may have multiple perspectives on something and instead of making a decision or forming a belief based off only a part of how I feel, I make sure to take into account all sides of me. Even when it comes to how I practice my witchcraft and experiences that seem spiritual in nature, I have a process I go through to verify to myself how I should personally categorize it and if it deserves more attention, and the nature of attention I give to it. And I also have a couple trusted people that I share my experiences with and try to get outside perspective on their nature.

The biggest difference to how I go about my spirituality and life in general is now I have an understanding of how things in a person’s past can manifest themselves later in life.

I believe a person’s trauma can manifest in a damaging way if left untreated. I choose to view my situation through a spiritual lens to give me a framework of how to go about healing myself. I spend a lot of time fighting my own personal demons and am slowly working on recognizing, accepting, and healing old wounds.

A big change I’ve made to my spiritual practice after taking my mental health into account is how I apply it to the world and if/how to share that with others. I’ve come to learn that some things I experience are unique to me and cannot necessarily be applied to the collective reality. So I try to make sure I have more discernment with the things I share and how I share them, and am constantly questioning the decisions and opinions I make to make sure I understand where they’re coming from.

How has spirituality helped you understand your experiences from a mental health perspective?

When I first realized I had DID I lost all faith. I was devastated because I thought this meant that all of my experiences were nothing more than a fantasy created by a mental disorder. It shook me. I spent half a year just navigating that. Eventually I came to the conclusion, with the help of a very special part of me named Joan, that it was up to me how I decide to view this. I could choose to see only the medical/psychological side of it, renounce all my beliefs–or I could choose to also see the spiritual side. If anything, that short time when I lost faith in everything showed me how fulfilling and comforting a spiritual practice can be.

What’s some advice you’d give someone who might be struggling with something like this unknowingly?

My main advice to everyone is to recognize that mental health is just as important as spiritual and physical health. We live in a world now that offers us a lot of different approaches to life and our problems and I think the best way to go about it is to try to maintain a balance between science and spirituality. I think my spiritual practice is crucial in my healing but I also see the benefit and necessity of taking my meds and seeing my therapist regularly.

DID is tricky to notice even within yourself. The entire purpose of the disorder is to hide things from yourself as a survival mechanism. But it is typically known to start showing noticeable signs when you’ve reached a point in life where you’re “settled” and your psyche starts to feel like it’s a safe time to start unpacking all its baggage. My advice is if you have any doubts or questions about your experiences or sense of being, then reach out. Find a therapist who is open to your personal spiritual beliefs and find a support group of people who are having or had had similar experiences. Also shadow work is everything. I feel everyone, even those who may not be suffering from mental health issues can greatly benefit from it.

Scientific American: A new paper argues that DID may help us explain the nature of reality. 

I just have to say that I’m in such awe of how strong this woman is, and how she’s gone about handling this. I honestly started crying when I read her responses to my questions, because even though she’s having to work harder than the average human to navigate the world within her, she’s doing it with so much integrity.

We talked about how there is an opportunity here for her to share her experiences and help others who are struggling with these kinds of things and she said, “I hope to eventually be in a place where I can help others with stuff like this from what I’ve learned. But I want to make sure I’ve learned enough before I start really trying to help others.”

And that, my friends, is the balance that all of us need to strike.

Xo,

Ash

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

Have You Been the Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

Have You Been the Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

Have You Been the Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

The term spiritual abuse refers to any attempt to control or hold power over another person using religion, faith, beliefs, or spirituality.

Often employed by cult leaders, spiritual abuse comes wrapped in spiritual words, phrases, and rationales, and can use any tactic employed by any kind of abuser, whether it’s shaming, shunning, physical abuse, gaslighting, harassment, humiliation, or other forms of psychological abuse. The end goal is to instill fear in the victim as a means to condition them for manipulation and control.

  • Shaming instills fear of being a bad person and low self-worth, which makes the victim more reliant for validation from the authority figure
  • Shunning instills fear of abandonment
  • Physical abuse instills fear of physical repercussions
  • Gaslighting instills fear and doubt of one’s own thoughts and emotions

Examples of New Age spiritual abuse include:

Cultivate or exploit their victim’s naivety in regard to spirituality.

 

Use spiritual concepts about unity to justify silencing victims.

 

May use spirituality to imply or explicitly state that if dissenters understand spirituality differently, the difference of opinion is actually a product of fear, being less enlightened (when it’s actually the abuser whose understanding is based in fear and lack of spiritual understanding), or not having the same level of divine connections that they do, or that other, contradictory sources of information have been “hijacked by dark forces.”

 

Flex their alleged knowledge of spirituality to position themselves as more enlightened than other teachers who contradict them.

 

Exploit spirituality to make the victim feel like they are responsible for their own circumstances because the victim is spiritually immature. They may accuse, berate, critique, attack, belittle, condemn or guilt trip the victim.

 

The abuser often paints themselves as a martyr while simultaneously positioning the victim as the wrongdoer in an attempt to undermine the victim’s credibility while emphasizing their own.

 

Exploit spirituality to minimize or shift the blame for their behavior, such as claiming that the victim is simply projecting, or justify silencing the victim as “setting boundaries.”

 

Exploit spiritual concepts and practices for financial gain.

 

Use tantric practices or sexual healing as a cover to attempt sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault.

 

Over inflate or lie to the victim about their abilities or how they are regarded by the New Age and wellness community, isolating them from possible sources of support and reinforcing their own superiority.

 

Exploit spirituality to gaslight, dismiss, or invalidate a victim into ignoring the abuse with platitudes such as “what you focus on, you create,” accuse them of having a victim mentality, label them as not being “awakened” or calling them a sheep.

 

Attribute accusations against them to the work of evil spirits, negative entities, Satanists, or the deep state.

 

Use fearful predictions or prophecies that are always just around the corner to instill fear and obedience in followers. When predictions or prophecies don’t come true, there’s always an excuse and another prediction/prophecy to once again keep followers hooked and afraid to leave.

 

Use fear-shaming as a means of gaslighting and manipulation. In other words, the abuser shames the victim’s common sense beliefs and actions claiming that they are acting from a place of fear in instances where fear is not an actual motivator.

 

Use the community to protect the abuser, and isolate the victim. The abuser may have a large group of loyal followers who will attack, dismiss, and ostracize the victim for pointing out the abuse or questioning the abuser.

 

Socially isolate their victims by eroding their trust in other people, and their own discernment, and limiting their access to or eroding their trust in outside information, or support, or both.

 

Use evil spirits or negative entity attachments as explanations for the victim’s accusations or behavior when the victim’s understanding contradicts fear-based information, such as telling them that their own intuitive information is actually coming from a negative entity or dark energy.

What constitutes a cult?

Cult behavior can occur within a well-defined group of people, or loosely across disparate groups of people. It can appear in internet communities or within groups of people who gather regularly face-to-face.

One of the main indicators of a cult, beyond all of the spiritual abuse tactics listed above, is that it either actively or passively recruits individuals through the use of what is known as love bombing– appealing to a person’s sense of brokenness or loneliness by, at least initially, providing praise, a sense of community, and otherwise manipulating the person’s desire to feel special and understood. Once the individual has been successfully integrated into and the community, the abuse and dependence conditioning begins.

The second defining trait of a cult is that there is often a pyramid structure with a singular figure of authority at the top. This authority figure, the cult leader, will often claim to be special in some way themselves, and present themselves as the sole person who has access to some kind of truth, a way of living, or a divine being, and that truth/way can never be questioned. They may present themselves as a channel, a psychic, a spiritual teacher, a prophet, a social media influencer, a self-help guru, a business, or government figure–any sort of position of power that can be wielded over a group of people.

There may be intermediate authority figures in the cult hierarchy who disseminate the cult leader’s philosophies and teachings, and also serve as evangelists and recruiters. These intermediate authority figures gain power by serving as mini-cult leaders to their own groups.

As you may have noticed, many organizations operate under the cult pyramid structure, including businesses and religious organizations, and not all of them engage in [all of] the abusive tactics mentioned above. The defining trait of a cult lies in its underlying motivation: to recruit, manipulate, extort, exploit, and control.

 

Spiritual abuse is rampant within the spiritual community and is a key indicator of cult classification. Spiritual abuse is being used by adherents of Qanon and other cults to keep people in the fold “trusting the plan.” Please consider sharing this information, especially with anyone who is new to spirituality, in an effort to raise awareness about spiritual abuse.

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Xo,

Ash

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How to Spot a Spiritually Immature Wellness Influencer

How to Spot a Spiritually Immature Wellness Influencer

How to Spot a Spiritually Immature Wellness Influencer

As spirituality continues to become more and more mainstream, in large part thanks to social media platforms, we are seeing an explosion of spiritual coaches, wellness influencers, and people offering intuitive services.

On the one hand, this is fantastic as more and more people are awakening to spirituality. On the other hand, it’s problematic because there are more and more inexperienced spiritual people out there who haven’t yet completed the appropriate shadow work to develop discernment or a fully integrated understanding of spiritual concepts. Furthermore, any of these individuals has the ability to appoint themselves as authority figures through branding and other marketing tactics.

 

It’s funny cause it’s true 😂👌🏻

Posted by In My Sacred Space on Monday, January 4, 2021

 

How does this play into wellness and spirituality influencer culture?

I talked about the dangers of this, along with the Dunning-Kruger effect in my previous blog post, the 5 Toxic People to Avoid on Your Spiritual Journey.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the tendency for novices to overestimate their mastery of a subject, because you don’t know what you don’t know, you know? If you’re learning a new subject, you don’t fully understand the depth and breadth of it until you experience it. So those who are only beginning to explore it or are perhaps one to three years in may not realize how much more they have to learn.

This in and of itself is not an issue. It becomes an issue when those people, falsely believing they have mastered the subject, go out into the world to present themselves as masters and attempt to teach/heal/coach/read others. We are seeing an explosion of influencers and self-help gurus who are using all the right words and phrases, but not embodying a full comprehension of the spirituality that they are attempting to pedal.

When this happens, that unintegrated knowledge and lack of experience can result in the emotional and energetic harm of their clients. They are often charging money, and in some cases, significant amounts of money–hundreds or thousands of dollars– and furthermore, their marketing messaging often intentionally triggers underlying self-esteem issues in order to drive a purchase. They are exploiting the unhealed trauma of potential clients for financial gain.

This is a huge ethics problem with real life consequences, and it is an underlying factor in today’s spread of conspiracy theories in the wellness community, a culture of spiritual materialism, and concepts and ideas that both spring from and also lead to spiritual bypassing.

That isn’t to say that someone can’t share their journey publicly if and when they are open about their lack of experience and not attempting to present themselves as an authority figure or expert. It’s even okay to charge a reasonable amount of money for your time if you are practicing doing readings, but there must be transparency with those clients about your experience level.

The Inner-Workings of the Inner-Work Influencer Crowd

A large number of these influencers, particularly those who have reached the top of the pyramid, are intentionally acquainted with each other. They want to surround themselves with other people who have large followings so that they can cross-pollinate their audiences, gain more followers, and make more money.

They join mastermind groups facilitated by other well-connected influencers in an attempt to make connections with celebrities to get big name guests on their podcasts and also make appearances on podcasts that have wide listening audiences. You pay a few thousand dollars to be in a mastermind group, and in return, you get access to to celebrity contacts as well as any connections other people in the group may have.

This in and of itself isn’t so terrible. Networking is smart business after all, but it becomes terrible when the primary motivation for joining the group is to make money and become famous, rather than service to the collective.

When ambition becomes more important than mission, your priorities are out of alignment with spirit and the consciousness that you purport to embody. And regardless of what kind of fluffy love and light kind of language these folks write on their instagram accounts, that’s exactly what’s driving them. Additionally, a pay-to-play model that charges a hefty $5,000 price tag on admittance automatically excludes anyone who can’t afford it, and means that only the privileged who who have already accumulated a certain amount of financial success and stability are allowed access to the next level.

True story time:

 

I attended a conference back in 2019 that was supposed to be all about personal development. It was being held in the city where my best friend lived during the week when I’d been planning to visit her. A mutual friend was going to the conference and gave us tickets. It sounded wonderful online, and I had high expectations.

 

When we arrived, we went an outdoor welcome ceremony where all 3,000 people who attended made intention bracelets, had access to free tarot readings, and participated in a group intention ceremony about what we wanted to accomplish during and after the conference. The first day of speakers opened with Lee Anne Rhymes leading us all in a spiritual group chant. Sounds great, right?

 

Except it wasn’t.

 

The general energetic undercurrent of the majority of the people in attendance felt like a gaping black hole of desperation for validation.

 

My first red flag was that the girl who made my intention bracelet didn’t even know how to spell Dharma. My second red flag was that every single person I talked to at the welcome event made some attempt to name-drop the speakers that they knew, slip into conversation that they knew the conference host, or went completely fan girl if someone they were talking to did.

 

During intermissions between speakers, people would go out into the aisles and start filming videos for instagram. One guy was doing pushups. Another girl was doing yoga poses. A couple started doing acro-yoga. In the fucking aisles.

 

There were breaks for questions after each speaker. Most people used those as opportunities to promote themselves. One speaker asked the host point blank for a job. Another woman managed to get a hold of the microphone at least three times over three days and promote herself and a book that she’d just written. Another woman randomly started singing into the microphone.

 

Even the speakers themselves were displaying and promoting blatantly obvious toxic ideas (at least obvious to me) that were rooted in codependent behavior and toxic masculinity. And everyone in the audience ATE. IT. UP.

 

Why? Because these people were millionaires, and the people in the audience weren’t really there to learn how to be better people, they were there to learn how to become somebody. To achieve power and influence. And they worshipped the people on stage. Many of them, during their five minutes on the microphone, mentioned how they were going to be on that stage one day.

 

I left that conference with a stark realization of exactly how thin the veneer of fame and success is, how unconscious the general population is, and just how broken influencer, wellness, and self-help culture was–and happy that because my ticket was a gift, I wasn’t out the $800 admittance fee.

I’m a big believer that just as your vibe attracts your tribe, your tribe is a reflection of your vibe.

When someone’s tribe is made up of a bunch of people who have a desperate need to be famous and successful, that’s ego that’s driving them, not soul. And it speaks volumes about the person at the top.

I’ve come to realize that all of the influencers I have interacted with end up having some kind of connection to each other, and various other problematic influencers. I’ve also noticed a pattern where the people that surround them always seem to have the exact same sort of energy that they do, for better or worse. People who are on that same frequency gravitate to them because they espouse the same values and elevate people who also espouse those values.

Pay attention to the community that surrounds your favorite influencers. Are they naive people pleasers? Your guru may be a narcissist. Are they concerned with money, wealth, and status? Your guru may be all about the Benjamins. Are they emotionally immature, constantly arguing with one another, or exhibiting mental illness? Your guru might be unwell themselves.

How can we spot a wellness influencer or self-help guru’s values?

You can check out one of my previous posts about how to tell if a spiritual teacher is credible to learn about the kinds of qualities a spiritual teacher ought to embody.

Read How To Know if a Spiritual Teacher is Credible

Some tell tale red flags that an influencer may not be as enlightened as they claim (some of these are general indicators of emotional immaturity, others are real life observations):

  • Inability to accept constructive feedback or criticism. Will argue with or block dissenters.

 

 

  • Engages in overt or covert online feuds with other influencers, repeatedly calling out other influencers directly or posting passive-aggressive content directed at another influencer, or otherwise exhibits a lot of professional life drama.

 

  • Has amassed an army of haters who constantly troll their content. One or two trolls on occasion is a normal occurrence, but when ten of them show up on nearly every post, that’s a red flag.

 

  • Has an ex (or four…) that is publicly trashing them on social media (or in the case of another influencer, published a heavily optimized web page trashing him so it would show up in search engine results anytime someone googled him…) or otherwise consistently has a lot of personal life drama.

 

  • Promotes or demonstrates overly-simplified or toxic understandings of spiritual concepts, and doesn’t demonstrate a comprehension of nuance or context surrounding the appropriate usage of those spiritual concepts.

 

  • Believes in or spreads conspiracy theories, particularly with regard to public health issues.

 

 

  • Spreads ideas and concepts that are actually harmful to others’ mental health, such as “regret isn’t rape.

 

  • Doesn’t credit the sources of their knowledge when sharing that knowledge, for example, their own mentors or books they read.

A lot of these are simply behaviors related to emotional immaturity, spiritual bypassing, narcissism, and a lack of self-awareness and critical thinking skills. Naturally, if someone’s schtick is that they’re going to teach you emotional maturity, spiritual or personal development, or self-awareness or use those as tools for their coaching, they ought to be able to exhibit them in their own behavior. If they cannot, then they have no business being in this business.

My unofficial 2021 resolution is to have integrity with who I follow on social media. I will never promote the work of someone that I feel is out of integrity with true spiritual values. And this is that discernment aspect I mentioned a the beginning of this post.

I hope this gets you thinking about the people you may or may not put on a pedestal, and gets you to use your intuition more to evaluate those folks, rather than the shiny exteriors they present. If something looks or feels off, it probably is.

Xo,

Ash

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How to Spot a Spiritually Immature Wellness Influencer

Abuse and The Law of Attraction

Abuse and The Law of Attraction

For a community that is supposed to be focused on love, light, and healing, New Agers have invented and contributed to some of the most toxic, harmful, bullshit ideologies on the planet, and nine times out of ten, the Law of Attraction is behind it.

One of those toxic ideologies is that people manifest their own abusive experiences through Law of Attraction, including children. I’ve written previously about the topic of manifesting abusive experiences, but I didn’t go in-depth on the Law of Attraction in that post, which I will do today.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: No. Unequivocally, children do not manifest their own abuse through Law of Attraction.

What Law of Attraction zealots want you to believe, particularly those who are making money from coaching people to manifest the life of their dreams, is that you are the all powerful, absolute creator of the totality of your experience, the God of your own world, and you can have absolutely anything your heart desires–all you have to do to harness this power is think positive thoughts and set an intention about what you want, and the Universal vending machine will deliver it up to you on a silver platter!

It’s bullshit.

Try manifesting a physical living breathing unicorn in your back yard using that ideology and let me know how it goes.

This line of thinking is actually a form of separation consciousness because it downplays, ignores, or outright denies the interconnected nature of our human experiences. Yes, you are a creative being and you have the ability to shape the world around you, but it is not as simplistic as these opportunistic gurus would have you believe.

I’m going to return to the book that I refer to as my bible today, Conversations with God.

Thought + Word + Deed = Manifestation

There’s a reason that magick involves intentions, incantations, and rituals. They are the thoughts, the words, and the actions to bring one’s vision to life.

And not just any ole thoughts…the sponsoring thought.

What is a sponsoring thought? The sponsoring thought is your deeply held beliefs about yourself and the world around you, much of which exists on a subconscious level until you engage in the appropriate amount of shadow work to uncover them. Until that point, you’re manifesting from your trauma, your wounds, and your self-limitations rather than fully-embodied consciousness.

Learn about shadow work’s role in spirituality.

Chances are, the shit you’re trying to manifest if you haven’t done this work is going to be materialistic and egoic and end up causing more harm than good.

Another famous line from Conversations with God:

 

“My will is your will, but your will is not my will.”

What that means is, God wants you to be the creator, and that entails having the free will to do what thou wilt, even if it isn’t in alignment with the highest good, however, what God wills for you is that you rise to your highest potential. Once your will is in alignment with God’s will, you have become the creator.

In simpler terms, once you’ve done the work, your idea about what might make you happy and the things that you desire will be on much healthier footing, and you’ll be able to manifest them a lot easier because they will be in alignment with your higher consciousness, not your lower desires, which typically end up creating nasty karmic consequences–the old “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” Watch Wonder Woman 1984 for a general idea of how well that might go…

This is precisely why a lot of the better spiritual teachers out there will tell you that attempting to manifest anything is a useless endeavor until you’ve done the work, and why some witches abide by the three-fold rule (whatever you do comes back to you three fold). It’s why the ancient mystery schools had initiation processes, and its why most orders still do today (If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend listening to this podcast interview with Damien Echols), and the ones who are trash are just reinforcing toxic positivity, spiritual bypassing, and rampant materialism.

So no, your passing thoughts and random fears are not going to literally manifest if you think about them for two seconds. Or even an hour. It is likely, however, that a great deal of your thoughts and fears are a part of some greater subconscious belief system or attitude which you are helping to perpetuate (and thus, manifest) into the world around you.

The Secret: Prosperity Gospel for the New Age

It’s a much better marketing gimmick if the charlatans can convince you that you’re the singular God of your own universe instead of a part of a divine global collective of interconnected beings co-creating together. It’s the influence of western cultural values that prize individualism above community, domination over cooperation, manifest destiny, and so on. As I mentioned earlier, this is a form of separation consciousness and an avenue to avoid social responsibility. Toss in a heavy dose of capitalism and materialism and you have Americanized spirituality.

But these overly-simplified ideas about Law of Attraction gloss over this important fact: we are not individually the only creator on this planet. We live in a co-created world with other people who are endowed with the same creative potential that we are, and we’re all co-creating our existence every single day, with every conscious or subconscious belief we have that influences our thoughts and attitudes, which in turn influence the words we speak and the actions we take. Our actions directly affect other people in the world around us. That’s precisely how we’ve manifested the world we live in today…and what a spectacular shit show!

Wait–are we responsible for this mess?!

Collectively, yes. Humanity as a whole, throughout time, created this world and all of the fear and trauma and oppression that exists within it evolved out of the unhealed wounds and the unconscious actions perpetrated from those wounds.

On an individual level, we perpetuate that trauma by manifesting–through actions, cause, and effect–from our unconscious belief systems built upon unhealed wounds–or, we heal it by expanding our conscious awareness of ourselves, eliminating destructive belief systems, choosing constructive actions, and taking responsibility for ourselves and the creative role we have in the world around us.

Child Abuse and Ancestral Karma

In a previous post on this topic I wrote:

A child’s first experience with abuse can never be the result of their own thoughts because the experience has never entered into their awareness. Especially when we are children, we haven’t yet fully developed a sense of self–our brains don’t even finish forming until we’re 25–and we are at the mercy of the adult/child power dynamic. Therefore, any abuse perpetrated on a child by an adult can never be the result of Law of Attraction.

Children don’t have the luxury of making their own decisions or truly thinking for themselves. They don’t manifest abuse, because abuse is karmic.

Remember this: karma trumps Law of Attraction every time.

When I say karmic, I don’t mean the notion that karma is some kind of punishment for past (life) transgressions. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people?” All of that stuff I just talked about–manifesting from unhealed wounds? The consequences of the “manifesting” we do (a.k.a. the actions we take) from unhealed wounds is our karmic contribution to the collective. Karma is the energetic legacy we leave behind us. It stays here on the planet and affects those who come after us.

Ancestral karma is when that energy is passed down through generations of a family lineage. Child abuse is ancestral karma: a learned pattern from the previous generation inflicted upon the next.

Children come into this world as a blank slate, with no deeply held belief systems. Our parents are the only reference we have for what the world means for the first several years of our existence. We are completely at the mercy of these people’s actions. They have ultimate authority and power over us, and because we need to survive above all else, that means attempting to bond with the people we are dependent upon for survival.

We have no real choice about what to think or believe at this stage of our lives. Abusive adults wield this power dynamic in unhealthy ways, causing trauma. That trauma, when left unhealed in an adult, manifests as more unhealthy power dynamics, abusive behaviors, and/or destructive coping mechanisms, inflicting more trauma onto their children, and so the cycle goes.

You were never responsible for what happened to you when you were too young to think for yourself, and you did not manifest it. Those experiences were inflicted upon you by an adult who held power over you.

So What About Now?

Law of Attraction advocates tout that you attract to you everything that you experience, like metal to a magnet. What if it’s the other way around? What if you’re not the magnet… but the metal? At least for as long as you exist in an unconscious stage of manifestation?

Let’s take relationships, for example: we’re often attracted to people who exhibit the same toxic or abusive behavioral patterns as our parents did.

Those who grew up in a household with an abusive parent or had an otherwise chaotic childhood learned from those experiences that this is what love looks and feels like. And that’s not their fault–it’s the only thing they’ve ever been exposed to. They subconsciously recognize and associate that chaotic feeling with love, and that’s what they are attracted to in potential partners. They probably walk past healthy potential partners all day long and never give them a second glance, or if they do, their coping mechanisms cause the relationship to self-destruct before it ever gets off the ground (ask me how I know…).

It’s not that you’re manifesting abusive experiences for yourself, it’s that you’re responding to your subconscious childhood programming–until you become aware of the patterns.

When we heal the patterns, we become the magnet instead of the metal. We can begin to discard old beliefs, recognize our patterns, heal our trauma, shift our perspectives and attitudes, and take actions that have healthier consequences–both for ourselves and everyone that we are connected to here on earth. We become a conscious co-creator of our collective reality. We liberate ourselves, and each other.

 

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