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

How Toxic Spirituality Taught You To Gaslight yourself

How Toxic Spirituality Taught You To Gaslight yourself

How Toxic Spirituality Taught You To Gaslight yourself

An unfortunate side-effect of toxic positivity and love and light brainwashing is that it not only creates the perpetual repression of emotions which are deemed negative, but also increases the likelihood of codependent behaviors like people-pleasing, or fawning.

Toxic spirituality is mired in spiritual narcissism. As such, many of us experience symptoms of narcissistic abuse under the guise of spiritual teachings. By dismissing your own perceived negative thoughts and feelings about others, you are conditioned to turn off your internal guidance system which might otherwise alert you to predatory behavior.

You begin to engage in self-gaslighting, ignoring your own intuition, boundaries, morals, and values.

Learn more about spiritual abuse

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched people–healers even!–try to talk themselves out of being angry or disliking someone or speaking out against someone who is obviously and blatantly doing or promoting things that are antithetical to spirituality because they confuse it with being negative or self-righteous or just a projection of their own shadow.

It’s OKAY to not like someone who is doing a disservice to the collective.

And when you gaslight yourself into keeping quiet about those people, you enable them. When it comes to toxic behavior, you don’t have to stay in your lane. Expressing your anger is not being negative. Standing up for what IS right is not self-righteousness.

Certainly, ask yourself those questions when those kinds of feelings arise, but the answer is not always that you are just jealous/envious/triggered/self-righteous. Sometimes the answer is righteous, especially if you know yourself, and have done the work, know your values and what you stand for.

We have A LOT of problems in the spiritual community and A LOT of problematic people, but they continue to do harm and lead others astray because as a community, we’ve been brainwashed that to challenge someone or be challenged is being “negative,” and a lot of the people being challenged will gaslight the fuck out of you by accusing you of projection and being egoic.

Learn to identify the five toxic spiritual people you should avoid.

Those people are the ones projecting. Reality is not as subjective as they would like you to believe. Not everything is a matter of perspective. Some perspectives are based on delusions. And some people are objectively in the wrong.

I’ve seen this a lot. Hell, I’ve been this person. But over the last three-four years, I’ve stopped telling myself that I need to like everybody. There’s been a multitude of experiences that have helped me realize that.

One was a girl who, upon seeing her photo in a group of friends for the first time, I immediately got a bad vibe. There was nothing in particular about her appearance that was off-putting. I just knew she was bad news.

 

Later, a mutual friend asked me to take her on as a client. Even though I had a really bad feeling about it, I told myself that “lightworkers should help everyone who wants it,” and kept ignoring and dismissing my visceral dislike of her, even going so far as to tell myself it must be a symptom if my own insecurity.

 

Fast-forward two weeks after she had taken what I told her in our session and posted it to her social media followers as though it was her own, and my visceral dislike was thoroughly validated. As if that wasn’t enough, she would later go on to lie and use me as a means of hurting said friend and sabotage our relationship, and hurt both of us deeply.

 

If I had listened to my gut instead of thinking I had to be nice to everybody, I *may* have avoided some pain.

Another example from several years earlier:

My ex father-in-law had gotten into politics and was hosting a meet and greet for an up and coming gubernatorial candidate named Eric Greitens. Lots of people I knew had been talking him up. He was a Rhodes Scholar, attended Oxford, was a former Navy Seal, humanitarian, book author, and founded a nonprofit for veterans.

 

After I actually met him in person, I had a very different impression.

 

In the car on the way home, I told my ex husband, “I don’t trust that guy as far as I can throw him. He’s fake. Everything about him is calculated.”

 

But he went on to win the race, and shortly thereafter, my intuition was once again validated:

 

A scandal broke—he’d handcuffed and blindfolded his married mistress during his campaign run and taken compromising photos of her. He was using revenge porn as a means of blackmail to keep quiet. His wife was pregnant at the time. Real classy guy.

 

In addition to running on a family values platform, he also beat the whole, “I’m not a career politician” thing to death on the campaign trail. Never mind the fact that he purchased ericgreitensforpresident.com seven years prior to running for governor.

 

As I said: calculated.

Listen to your intuition, boys and girls. Sometimes that strong disdain is there for a damn good reason and if you keep your mouth shut, those people go on to wreak havoc.

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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New to Spirituality?

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