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

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to get ass-kicking inspiration delivered to your inbox.

SUBMIT A QUESTION

Submit a question you want to pick my brain about. I may answer it in a blog post!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

New to Spirituality?

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

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Fear Is Not A Dirty Word

Let’s talk about fear.

In New Age spirituality, fear is probably the most demonized emotion. “Stop living in fear!” everyone likes to preach. And, you know, in some instances, this is a good thing to do. How many opportunities in life do we miss because we were simply afraid to take the risk and instead, stuck to our comfort zone?

In this case, the whole False Evidence Appearing Real narrative is somewhat correct. When we are afraid of failure, rejection, pain, of not being good enough, etc. it keeps us small. When we’re afraid of the boogeyman and things that go bump in the night, it keeps us on edge. Religion has used fear of Satan, Hell, and demons as a mechanism for control for centuries. All of these fears are based in total illusion or superstition with no foundation in reality.

Learn why fear-based beliefs are a distortion.

But there’s another kind of fear that has every basis in reality which serves as a biological survival instinct: fear of actual real and tangible danger. Like physical pain, without this evolutionary protection mechanism, the human race would be extinct. Fear in the face of clear and present danger is what keeps us alive.

Could you imagine telling a child not to look both ways before crossing the street because it’s considered “living in fear”? How about intentionally exposing yourself to a potentially deadly virus because wearing a mask was “living in fear”? Or maybe attempting to take a selfie with a wild buffalo at Yellowstone? You catch my drift. These are Darwin Award-worthy acts of stupidity, not conquering fear for any useful reason.

There’s a marked difference between fear-based beliefs and belief systems and actual bodily self-preservation.

Learn more about the difference between fear and danger.

On Pushing Through Fear and Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Some people pride themselves on getting out of their comfort zones, and certainly, if you do what you’ve always did, get you’ll get what you’ve always to gotten. But like anything, this all depends on context.

If you’re talking about doing something you’ve never done before, like uprooting your entire life to move across the country with no safety net, and that scares you, that’s an opportunity you might miss because of your comfort zone. It might be worth the risk.

If you’re talking about doing something you’ve never done before that might actually violate your personal values or expose you to harmful relationship dynamics, that’s a whole other ballgame. That’s risky behavior because you don’t recognize risk when you see it.

Sometimes our comfort zones exist because we’ve been severely traumatized, and pushing ourselves out of them too fast, too soon is just like the trauma that created them in the first place. This is harmful.

Sometimes, because of abuse, we don’t actually fully understand what our comfort level is. We ignore our discomfort because that’s what our abusers taught us to do, and when we come up against some similar, subtle, but potentially harmful experiences, we stick around too long, not realizing what’s happening until it’s too late.

Those with people-pleasing or codependent tendencies are not great at recognizing risk or when their boundaries are being violated, and a lot of folks think that pushing through this is somehow conquering their fear in the name of spirituality.

If you’re a recovering people pleaser, or have a history of trauma and abuse, I urge you to ignore the comfort zone messaging on Instagram when it comes to really personal things like relationships, sex, and things which are directly tied to your physical and emotional well-being.

Fear isn’t all bad. Fear is a useful emotion that alerts us of danger. Fear only becomes detrimental when it becomes overprotective.

Pay attention to your discomfort. Explore it. Honor it. Sometimes it’s all in your head. But sometimes it’s there for a reason.

Xo,

Ash

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to get ass-kicking inspiration delivered to your inbox.

SUBMIT A QUESTION

Submit a question you want to pick my brain about. I may answer it in a blog post!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

New to Spirituality?

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

Narcissistic Empaths and the Narcissist / Empath Relationship

Narcissistic Empaths and the Narcissist / Empath Relationship

Narcissistic Empaths and the Narcissist / Empath Relationship

You’ll find a lot of wildly popular information on the internet talking about the relationship between narcissists and empaths, and how these two polar opposites ends up attracting each other.

However, you may recall in a previous post where I wrote about the Law of Attraction, I pointed out that the perception of opposite energies attracting is an illusion. According to the Law of Attraction, like energy attracts like energy. So how can two seeming opposites such as a narcissist and an empath be alike?

Like Attracts Like or Opposites Attract?

First, we need to review what like energy attracts like energy actually means in terms of Law of Attraction:

If we want to truly understand the law of attraction, we have to understand it in energetic terms: heavy energy attracts heavy energy. Lighter energy attracts lighter energy. The vibrational frequencies of the energies are a match.

 

Duality comes from the illusion that there exists a lack of love. We call that illusion fear (not to be confused with danger). Fear-based energy is heavy and dense. Thus, fear-based energy manifests as spectrum of polarity (duality).

 

For example: total control and total submission exist on the same power spectrum and they are both symptoms of a heavier, “negative,” fear-based energy, one being a hunger for power, and the other being a state of feeling powerless. Thus, these two energies attract because they are the same fundamental energy expressing itself on a spectrum, and give the illusion of opposites attracting.

 

Learn more about the Law of Attraction

Next, we have to establish what an empath is.

When most people on the internet are talking about empaths, they are actually talking about codependency. I think there’s a great deal of nuance involved in this, and people often lump several categories together. I tend to see these broken down like so:

  • There’s psychic empaths, which are people who physically experience other people’s emotions and energy in the environment around them (also known as Sensory-Processing Sensitivity or a highly sensitive person (HSP)) ;
  • There’s people with empathy, who have the emotional intelligence to understand how another person may be feeling;
  • And then there’s people who are codependent, who may, but don’t necessarily, have either of the aforementioned abilities.

What’s the difference between all of these things?

Psychic empaths/HSP appears to be biological in nature–you’re born that way (and it exists in non-humans as well). Emotional intelligence/empathy is cultivated and nurtured through our environment. Codependency is a learned coping mechanism/survival strategy when healthy emotional intelligence is not cultivated or nurtured–it mimics real empathy but in an unhealthy way.

A person can be codependent, have empathy, and be a psychic empath, or a person can be codependent, have little emotional intelligence, and be a psychic empath, or they might be a perfectly healthy, empowered psychic empath with a high emotional IQ.

Me, personally… I’ve always been HSP, but I have not always been emotionally intelligent. Not even close. I had to learn how to cultivate emotional intelligence on my own. I taught myself how to feel and how to empathize with other people. In some ways, shutting off one’s ability to empathize might be a reaction to being HSP in an abusive world. The pain of living in this world is too much for a developing, sensitive nervous system to process, so it becomes numb in order to function normally.

Learn about these three types of empaths.

The kind of empath that is most often drawn into relationships with narcissists are typically codependents, who may not actually be empaths at all, but rather… covert narcissists.

Narcissists and this kind of “empath” exist on opposite end of the same spectrum. Indeed, some research suggests that the only people who can stand being friends with narcissists are other narcissists.

Everybody’s A Little Bit Narcissistic

The next thing that is important to establish is that narcissism and codependency are a scale. Literally everyone has some narcissistic traits, and we all probably have some codependent tendencies. Some people are more narcissistic than others, and some people are more codependent than others. The extreme ends of those scales are where you’ll find the hardcore narcissist and the narcissistic empath.

Defining Traits of Narcissists and Narcissistic Empaths

The defining characteristics of both narcissists and (narcissistic) empaths/codependents, etc. are:

  • Lack of boundaries
  • Lack of a true defined self/identity
  • Dependent on others for validation / overly concerned with what other think
  • Lack of true self-awareness or awareness of one’s motivations

In this way, these two types of personalities are two sides of the same coin–and of course all of this exists on a scale/spectrum, so it’s to varying degrees of intensity.

A codependent or narcissistic empath gives all of their boundaries away (thus, no boundaries), and a narcissist disrespects all boundaries (thus, no boundaries), which is why they tend to “attract” one another, and why overt narcissist parents create covert narcissist or codependent children.

Both are overly concerned with the appearance of perfection, people pleasing, and deriving validation from another, it just manifests in slightly different nuances. Both constantly conform to others’ expectations, but it seems codependents focus on the individual in front of them, and narcissists focus on the collective’s.

On the extreme end, both lack a deep level of self-awareness, have a desperate need for attention, both engage in emotional manipulation, but one is more overt, and the other more covert. Both have a tendency to victimize themselves as well, which is why the whole “narcissists attract empaths” trope works so well–it allows the narcissistic empath to play that victim/martyr role and wear the label of “empath” like a badge of honor.

And finally, narcissistic empaths don’t actually have real empathy–they imitate empathy as a means of manipulating others into giving them validation. Their primary concern is still themselves, just like any other narcissist.

Learn more about narcissistic traits and abuse.

Out in the wild, these covert narcissists would be considered energy vampires to the tune of Evie Russell, from What We Do in the Shadows.

Spoiler alert: in true overt/covert narcissist fashion, Collin and Evie start dating.

Narcissists Are Not Attracted to Empaths

Narcissists are not attracted to empaths. Narcissists are attracted to people with weak boundaries and people-pleasing tendencies, which, as we’ve already established, is not an empath, it’s a codependent.

Narcissistic empaths are attracted to other covert narcissists, and by the way–a narcissist can display both overt and covert narcissistic tendencies, they don’t have to be one or the other.

As I said earlier, everyone has some narcissistic traits, and we all probably exhibit some codependent tendencies. Some folks might rank higher on the scale than others, and that’s where you find seemingly good people being attracted to seemingly bad people… except that’s really just our own lack of self-awareness around our own narcissistic tendencies being mirrored back to us by the person we’ve identified as “the narc.”

Narcissistic education coaches on Instagram are often people who have experienced narcissistic abuse, and when they haven’t fully healed from that abuse, they are usually still writing from a place of wounding and blame and have a tendency to dehumanize the abuser, which then creates an entire culture that writes off wounded people as irredeemably toxic, which naturally creates even more wounding.

They also tend to give really bad advice to the people they’re allegedly trying to heal, because they, themselves, haven’t yet worked out how to heal, such as telling their clients, “You don’t love them. It was just a trauma-bond.” This is actually a form of gaslighting. Coaches don’t know you and they don’t know whether or not you really loved your abuser or not, and they have no business telling you that you didn’t. What they should be telling you is that you perhaps have an unhealthy attachment to said person, and teach you how to compassionately detach without abusing yourself or vilifying anyone.

I’ll never tell an abuse victim that they deserved what they got or that it was their fault, because none of us ever asks to be abused. Healing is a process as well, and we don’t need to make excuses for our abuser’s behavior, nor do we even have to forgive them. But that doesn’t mean we get a free pass to abuse them in return.

Learn why you don’t manifest abuse.

Narcissistic abuse victims often gaslight themselves and bury their feelings as a coping mechanism to detach from their abuser. The unfortunate side effect of this is that they shut off their own empathy toward that person, and the one thing that defines a narcissist is a lack of empathy. So the irony is, you end up becoming just like them, which is why abuse is a cycle.

At some point, in order to truly heal, we have to recognize that abusers were, themselves, abused. And while we don’t have to excuse their behavior, or even forgive them for what they did, we do have to try to understand how they became who they are, if for no other reason than to ensure that we, ourselves, do not become the thing we despise. When we bring ourselves back to a state of empathy and compassion, it opens a path for our own healing as well as one for the abuser, should they choose to accept it.

Xo,

Ash

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to get ass-kicking inspiration delivered to your inbox.

SUBMIT A QUESTION

Submit a question you want to pick my brain about. I may answer it in a blog post!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

New to Spirituality?

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

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

There’s a new documentary making the rounds now about social media’s effects on society. I also caught the follow-up of Plandemic which was trying to paint a similar picture (that Google is run by evil people who want to brainwash you into believing whatever they choose to show you). The idea is becoming very popular, so I wanted to talk about it for a minute and pose a couple of philosophical questions.

The Social Dilemma

Everyone reading this probably believes in the concept of the Law of Attraction: that what you believe in/think about, you manifest. In other words, whatever you are, you get more of, until you change what you are.

This is not entirely different from how social media and Google algorithms work. Whatever you click on, you get more of. Until you change what you click on. I’ve worked in some form of digital marketing pretty much since Twitter was invented (2007 or so) and as part of my job, I’ve had to understand the how the algorithms work and keep up with how they’ve changed-both for the delivery of ads and organic growth of business pages on Facebook, and for the delivery of ads and organic rankings of websites on Google.

I’ve known for years that whatever I click on (and especially whatever I share), I’m going to get more of, so I only click on the things that I want to see more of. That’s why my instagram feed is full of A-frame houses in Norway, cat and bird videos, and the occasional inspirational quote. I specifically do not click on all of the Tik Tok videos of teen girls with giggly boobs doing dances in bikinis because I DON’T want more of that (and yet they keep making them… lordt).

I also know that some influencer or coach somewhere is probably going to end up in my feed at some point because they’ve created an ad that targets people with interests similar to that of their target audience. And sometimes I appreciate that because it introduces me to new people. But most of the time I roll my eyes because those people are hypocrites in some form or fashion.

It’s not a secret or a conspiracy that Facebook, or Twitter, or any other technology platform has tried to hide from anyone. There are people who literally make their living by writing article after article about how these platforms work and teaching small business owners how to use them. If you truly want to understand how it works, you don’t need to watch a spooky conspiracy “documentary” (I use that word loosely because Plandemic is not a documentary, its propaganda, which is another word I do not use loosely. It literally meets the definition of propaganda).

Just like with the Law of Attraction, my social media feed and Google searches show me the things I’ve already been thinking about, searching for, and clicking on. In other words, they mirror back to me my version of reality, just like the law of attraction does.

At what point do we stop blaming things outside of ourselves–evil cabals of cannibal celebrities, the deep state, or Google’s algorithm–for the consequences of our own actions (or inactions)?

At what point do we start making active and logical decisions about the information we choose take in?

People want to say “SOCIAL MEDIA IS CONDITIONING YOU TO THINK THIS WAY!” But the reality is that it isn’t. They are allowing themselves to be conditioned by the information they are choosing to engage with–by not engaging in a critical thinking process.

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

In spirituality, we have this concept of living consciously and being “awake” verses living your life asleep. One of, if not the most common misconceptions I see the “wake up sheeple” crowd make is believing that being awake means that you are “woke” to the ills of the world. That’s not what being awake means at all. Not even close. It also doesn’t (only) mean that you are aware that there is more to the universe than what is physically in front of it. It’s deeper than all of these things.

Being awake means living your life with conscious intention.

It means becoming aware of your subconscious patterns and habits, and learning to recognize when you are slipping into them. It means recognizing when your emotional reactions are driving your behavior. It means recognizing when your shadow-self is taking over. Only when you are awake and aware of your own shadow can you see the world objectively enough to be truly aware of what’s happening around you.

Humans really like to blame anybody and anything other than themselves for how they think–and sure, when we’re kids, we are conditioned by our parents’ beliefs and our society and culture because we don’t have any other point of reference. It’s only when we grow older, get a little more experience under our belts, and see more of the world that we (hopefully) begin the process of expansion.

People who have truly done their inner-work to deprogram themselves and heal their trauma, who have learned the principles of non-attachment, who know their spiritual values, and use those as a cornerstone to anchor the kind of reality they choose to create will actively employ those things as measures against what they will perceive as Truth and what will not. Additionally, because they’ve done the work on their own ego, become happy with themselves and no longer have the need to be liked, they’re less likely to go along with what others say as a way of people-pleasing. As such, they are far less susceptible to group think. And that’s what it means to be conscious. 

Know Thyself

Non-attachment is very key, because it keeps you from latching onto information simply because you WANT it to be true (and just because you want it to be true–i.e. it confirms your own biases, etc.–doesn’t mean that it is). Non-attachment allows you to look at and evaluate information from various angles.

Knowing your values is what helps you determine if a person/thing measures up to your spirituality. My personal core values are:

  • Integrity
  • Authenticity
  • Vulnerability
  • Knowledge
  • Empathy
  • Connection

Does the source of the information that I’m reading come from someone who is authentic, has integrity, shows vulnerability, or a deep knowledge and understanding about something? Do they have empathy? Do they care about the whole? If the answer to any of those questions is no, or I don’t know, then those are red flags.

Finally, critical thinking is the most obvious and important way to gauge information. But what you will find is that people will use spirituality to bypass critical thinking (this is another form of spiritual bypassing, particularly if the critical thinking piece is going to catalyze inner-growth). As we’ve discussed previously, critical thinking means objectively measuring and weighing the validity of new information, and non-attachment and the values test are tools for critical thinking.

In summary, my main point with this post is that we need to start taking personal responsibility for the information we consume, and the people who claim technology is brainwashing them (or anyone) are not doing that… because they don’t want to be responsible for themselves. Being responsible for yourself is hard. Being responsible for what you think and believe, on the surface, is super easy, but as we know from shadow work, it’s probably actually one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do.

Xo,

Ash

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to get ass-kicking inspiration delivered to your inbox.

SUBMIT A QUESTION

Submit a question you want to pick my brain about. I may answer it in a blog post!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

New to Spirituality?

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