Spiritual narcissism is one of the most confusing, insidious and dangerous types of narcissistic abuse.
Gosh, even I fell for it twice!
Narcissists gravitate towards areas where A-grade narcissistic supply is easy to obtain; frighteningly, many of them realise how being in a position of authority, via spirituality or religion, is the perfect way to be above reproach and have a free ticket to mine people for acclaim, attention, and resources.
Even if you haven’t encountered a spiritual narcissist before, they can be incredibly difficult to read, as well as incredibly alluring.
And naturally, this can be a big trap after your first narcissistic abuse experience, when you want to seek out people who are more spiritually connected and conscious.
In today’s Thriver TV episode, I am going to explain to you what a spiritual narcissist is, what they do, how to spot them and how we can heal from them. Even if you have never been abused by a spiritual narcissist, please know there are people in this community who have encountered them as the second of beyond narcissist in their life – so this information is pretty important to know!
I remember personally when I met narcissist number 1, I was so mesmerized by his spiritual slant. His interest in Red Indian artefacts and his seemingly spiritual beliefs and applications to life. This was a huge draw card for me! Back then, I thoroughly believed that if someone was ‘spiritual’ it meant that they were a really good person, and someone who could be trusted to treat others with care, honesty and respect.
I’m not the only one who thought this and who has been taken down by someone who is a spiritual narcissist. And, I fell for it again with narcissist number 2. Another supposed ‘spiritual’ guy who was also into personal development!
The Different Types of Spiritual Narcissists
Since this time, I have been connected into this community with many people who have been abused by spiritual or religious narcissists – ranging all the way from church ministers and worshippers who have incredible scripture knowledge, through to Eastern and personal development gurus and an endless assortment of spiritual healers and followers.
The moral to this story is two-fold – narcissists can be found in any walk of life, even those that seem to be in positions of decency and spirituality or even holy purity, and just because someone is a practitioner of consciousness, religion, spirituality or healing, does not necessary means that they are – at their core – a healthy, safe or decent person.
One of the Christian community members once said this about this topic: ‘I think it’s VERY important to mention that the church is certainly not immune from narcissists and like all narcissists, the ones at church cause immense and excruciating pain and damage.’
And, what can be so confusing and painful is that the church’s process may be to pray for the relationship and the narcissistic person and stay connected to them. I have met many people being abused by narcissists caught up in this bind, not feeling supported by the church to leave this person, whilst systematically being abused, smeared and triangulated by the narcissist within the church structures.
I truly don’t believe God or any version that you believe to be a Higher Power condones abuse. My Christian girlfriend had this to say about the same: ‘Please know that God himself never demands anyone stay in abuse and He has, in fact, called us to live in PEACE (1 Cor 7) which is the opposite of abuse. If married to a spiritually abuse Narc you are not bound as the marriage covenant has been destroyed through unrepentant abuse.’
Thankfully what I have observed, as a result of Christian community members working with NARP, that there have been many abused by religious spouses who have been able to break away from the abuser and fully heal, as well as make amends with the church, or find another church where they have been welcomed with open arms.
How Narcissists Use Spirituality And Religion As A Guise To Hurt You
Why is it actually NOT unusual for narcissists to infiltrate positions such as religious leaders and prominent spiritual positions? It’s this: narcissists gravitate to positions of leadership whereby they have audiences or followers because this is where they can glean narcissistic supply – the adoration, attention, and acclaim that narcissists crave.
This person may have a huge presence, a congregation or devotees and be incredibly well know in their field, yet the private and the public persona don’t match. Additionally, it is human conditioning to trust and believe in our leaders, and because this person has the trust of people they may not just be abusing people in their private lives, they may also abuse their followers or clients in any number of ways. This can be easy for them to do undetected because often people seek spiritual relief because they are vulnerable and spiritual leaders tend to be above reproach more than most people.
Spiritual abuse is incredibly insidious because when we believe that we are in the hands of the Divine, we are so open and trusting. Almost with a childlike innocence, the brutality of the abuse can feel like we are a lamb led to a slaughter. This is consistent whether this person is a parent, family member, a love partner, or your healer, guru or preacher.
Where narcissists are very dangerous and use formidable weapons to abuse with, is when spiritual or biblical verses are used and twisted into whatever argument is necessary for them to prove a point, reduce the victim and gain superiority and control over them.
One Christian community member shared this about this topic: These people possess a toxic faith which is twisted and they engage in deep spiritual abuse. Using the bible as a weapon to control, hurt and shame, rather than to inspire and encourage. Twisting Scriptures out of context is common, and using the bible to silence by instilling fear and terror are some of the methods.
Religious and spiritual narcissists alike will tell you they are right because they are spiritual and that you are wrong because you are not at their level of spirituality and connection to God / The Universe yet.
Spiritual narcissists may also use spiritual jargon supposedly directly from God or the Universe as a means to love-bomb you. Saying things like, ‘I saw you in a dream where I was told that you were my soul mate’, and ‘I had a vision and was told to pursue you because It’s God’s will for us to be together.’
If we are mesmerised by this person’s supposed or real spiritual knowledge and skills, and totally trusting of them, we may believe this to be true and think Divinity knows best! and go along with this even if our gut is squirming to the contrary inside us.
The huge contradiction with spiritual narcissists is that they may have incredible head knowledge about their religion or healing path, yet they don’t embody these things in their own life. They certainly don’t practice what they preach and can be incredibly righteous and even damning and hugely judgemental of others. Of course, often as a projection of what they do themselves.
How To Break Free From A Spiritual Narcissist
Okay, so this is the thing, if you are suffering abuse from a spiritual narcissist, you have to start trusting your inner being rather than what an authority is telling you. This is the age of awakening where so many of us are empowering ourselves via our inner being and information that we can freely seek ourselves, rather than what we have been told to believe.
So many of us are doing this now, whether it be regarding health and diet, financial freedom, relationships – whatever it is – so many of the old paradigms are crumbling and they need to.
I am not saying that we should be throwing out religion or spirituality – I just really do believe that our Inner Being is our truest connection to God (or whether your version of a Higher Power is), so if you feel uneasy or if something feels wrong, back yourself, investigate and confront, and above all trust yourself. If you are in the presence of a spiritual or religious person where your feel shamed, abused or violated – this says it all – it isn’t right or healthy for you.
This is the biblical verse about this: ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.’ (Matthew 7:15 New International Version.)
As one of my Christian friends, who worked with NARP to free herself from a terribly insidious spiritual narcissist said, ‘Your spirit, intuition and discernment will almost always show you the truth and the more you know the Truth, the more you’ll be able to spot the counterfeit. Spotting and discerning it is not enough. Without healing the inner wounds and beliefs one can logically KNOW something isn’t right here, however knowing won’t set you free, only inner healing will.’
That’s so, so true, like with all narcissistic abuse, it’s the inner transformational work on our wounds that allows us to survive and then Thrive as we go forward after abuse.
So, if this relates to you or someone you love, this terrible trauma of spiritual abuse, don’t dismay because there is powerful healing and life after spiritual abuse, available for you.
The first step to access relief, clarity and healing is to sign up to my free 16-day recovery course, which includes an invitation to a healing workshop with me, where we start shifting your trauma out, a set of eBooks and lots more.
And, as always I look forward to responding to your comments and questions.
So until next time… keep smiling, keep healing, and keep thriving because there’s nothing else to do
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