Healers with creepy vibes, teachers proclaiming weirdly self-aggrandising messages, acquaintances who latch onto your life like a leech (in the name of “love” of course) – most people in our community will have had at least one encounter with a spiritual narcissist.
For me, spirituality is about reconciling my existence with everything else that exists. My goal is to cultivate happiness, harmony and love for my creator, and all creations (myself included).
Spiritual narcissists see spirituality as a way to release their own deep-seated psychological and emotional problems. While spirituality can help with depression, anxiety, personality disorders and addictions, it can also be a catalyst for destruction when hijacked by the truly selfish.
Does someone in particular spring to mind as you read this? Read on to learn the common traits of the spiritual narcissist:
1. They’re Obsessed With Control
When someone tries to exert spiritual control in your life, they’re not just telling you what to do or who you should hang out with (the classic signs of emotional abuse).
They’re ultimately trying to control your thoughts and feelings to the point where you’re completely reliant on them for guidance in your everyday life. By doing this, they are positioning themselves between you and God – blocking the connection you have to the life source so they can experience God-like status themselves. It’s super fucked up.
Spiritual control tactics to look out for include:
Weaponised pride: The narcissist is proud and charming, and they’ll relentlessly flatter you in a bid to make you proud too. Once this is achieved, they’ll begin a campaign of criticism that won’t end until you’re begging for the approval you once got. Before you met them, you were fine, afterwards your self esteem was destroyed. Add a sexual element to this dynamic and you’re well on your way to becoming their emotional slave.
Master/student dynamic: It is common to be completely enamoured by a spiritual narcissist’s insights. They seem to be so much further along their spiritual journey than you are. At first they’ll say they want to teach you, but you’ll soon come to realise that no matter how much you learn, or how many of your own beliefs you abandon, they’ll never see you as their spiritual or intellectual equal. Sure, they’ll string you along with little morsels of approval, but at the end of the day they aren’t interested in sharing their leader status!
Divide and conquer: Spiritual narcissists will instantly dislike anyone that threatens their position as the most important person in your life. They’ll be jealous of your partner, your friends, your family and even your kids, and will immediately start causing strife in relationships that used to be fine. And they’ll have plenty of time to do this, because they have no other relationships in their own life.
2. They Constantly Brag About Their Achievements
It’s natural to want to share your success stories with your friends and family. Spiritual narcissists, however, are so addicted to praise, validation, and attention (good or bad!) they’ll find a way to bring every single conversation back to themselves regardless of who they’re talking to.
If you’re on the receiving end of a spiritual narcissist’s vainglory, don’t be afraid of ending the conversation. After all, they’re the one sucking your time and energy with no regard for your needs!
Practice enforcing your boundaries by excusing yourself from these conversations. Or, if it feels right, politely ask a simple question like, “Why are you telling me this?”.
If they respond with humility, they may simply be unable to read social cues, and will benefit from your interaction.
If they respond with anger, accusations, or disproportionate offence, they may have some deep-seated narcissistic tendencies, and it’s best to distance yourself rather than escalate the situation.
3. They Can’t Hide Their Hypocrisy
You can tell what type of tree you have by looking at the fruit it bares. A good friend will bring peace, patience, kindness, joy and loyalty into your life. A narcissist take bring drama, temper tantrums, spite, pettiness, pain and betrayal with them wherever they go.
Ask yourself these questions the next time you’re conversing with a suspected narcissist:
- If someone professes to have had an ego death, do they speak and act in a humble way or do brag about their achievements and flare up at the first hint of criticism?
- If someone professes that love is their God/religion, do they have good relationships with their friends, family and partners or is their life punctuated with drama and hurt feelings?
- If someone professes to be open minded, are they willing are they to listen to your ideas or do they constantly interrupt you and redirect the conversation back to their talking points?
- If someone professes to be honest, do they admit to making mistakes or having gaps in their knowledge, or do they act as if they know everything and it is everyone else who is wrong?
The Bottom Line
There are far too many signs of spiritual narcissism to put in one article, but if you notice any of these behaviours in your relationships, be very wary!
Do your research, talk to people you know love and care about you, and remember: If it’s definitely not them, it could be you!