I don’t think I’m going out on a limb if I said that people who identify as spiritual tend to be more narcissistic. This isn’t a jab at spirituality, it makes sense and I’d like to explain why.
Modern spirituality (in the way we use the term) has become popular because of a need to balance out organized religion, since organized religion (in most Western cultures) is defined by values like humility, sacrifice and obedience.
While there is nothing wrong with those values, when they are taken to an extreme there arises a need for greater self-expression, freedom and individuality. That’s where spirituality stepped in.
Religion — You owe everything to God.
Spirituality — You are God.
Religion — You are human, God is divine.
Spirituality — You are divine, just like God.
Religion — Love God.
Spirituality — Love yourself.
Religion — It’s not about me.
Spirituality — It is about me, and that’s okay.
Religion — God gave me this.
Spirituality — I manifested this.
Before we go on I’ll define what I mean by spiritual. I’m pointing to a sub-culture that’s formed and is rapidly growing in the United States and other Western countries. This sub-culture is typically identified with things like yoga, “conscious” festivals, eastern religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc…), many self-development programs and the human potential movement.
This is certainly not “the” definition of spirituality, and I’m using the word to reference something specific, in hopes that it will help me make a point.
Taking the Wrong Medicine
Just as over-worked entrepreneurs tend to sign up for another Tony Robbins seminar instead of a meditation retreat, and just as free-flowing hippies are drawn to workshops about investigating their feelings rather than financial management — narcissistic people love spiritual communities.
Of course they do, because spirituality enables their tendencies to make everything about them. Spirituality invites us to see that we’re big and powerful, even powerful beyond measure! And that’s the problem — spirituality is the opposite of what narcissistic people need.
I’d like to introduce a phrase that might make some people cringe (especially if you’re a narcissist).
There but for the grace of God, go I.
While I certainly think religion has it’s share of problems, this phrase — which is often found in Christian circles — is something spiritual people could really use more of.
There but for the grace of God, go I — and no, I’m not talking about our inner divine goddess, I’m talking about the version of God that is not you. You are not involved. Maybe you need to replace the word “God” with Gaia or “the universe” or whatever — but do whatever you need to do to stay with me.
Consider these two statements.
I manifested that.
There but for the grace of God, go I.
Which one feels better? Actually, maybe a better question is “what medicine do you need”? If you’re a overly humble person who is constantly deflecting compliments, sacrificing yourself left and right and afraid to take credit for anything, then yeah — maybe “I manifested that” is empowering, so try it out.
But if you’re like most of the people I know (and yes, I’m one of those people), then maybe adding a little humility to your morning Bulletproof Coffee might be just the thing you need.
Instead of proudly declaring on Facebook that you manifested that new job, why not give humility a shot? Maybe instead of “yessssss, I am the world’s most powerful manifester” you could instead write something like “I feel so incredibly lucky — I don’t even feel like I completely deserve this new job, it’s a dream come true”.
The Human Paradox
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty damn lucky, and totally fucking awesome. Both are true. My opinion about what it takes to live a happy life is that we need to both acknowledge this paradox and calibrate for our own personalities, which is easier said than done.
They say the three greatest mysteries are a fish unto water, a bird unto air, and man unto women. Oh wait, no — it’s man unto himself. Yes. And that’s why it’s so hard, we need to see the water we’re swimming in, we need reflections from friends that aren’t just bullshit projections, and we need to have the courage to take the right medicine.
So if you’ve been manifesting your way through life, maybe try not seeing yourself as the center of the universe.
And if you’ve been cowering through life as a servant of everyone but yourself, maybe try putting on a spiritual cape and getting worshipped at a Tantra puja.
It sounds so simple, but the problem is we don’t do this (me included). Tantra pujas are full of narcissists thinking they need more adoration and Christian churches are full of people-pleasers trying to serve other people more. It’s insane.
Go to church, and go to Burning Man. You can do both. I guarantee you that if you went to Burning Man and found the Christians there they would be total bad-asses. It’s because they’ve figured out how to get the best of both worlds.
You can too.
P.S. Shout out to my east coast homies living in California. You know why.
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