Don't be a "spiritual" narcissist

Spiritual narcissists perceives themselves as having knowledge and insight that make them superior to others, are more "tuned in" to truths beyond what others can see, and may even view themselves as a "teacher" with so much to offer their uncritical acolytes, so long as they remain uncritical. No surprise, social media fuels this foolishness. In Scientific American, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman surveys recent studies showing that "self-enhancement through spiritual practices can fool some of us into thinking we're evolving and growing when all we're growing is our ego." From SciAm:

…It's important to distinguish between healthy self-esteem and narcissism. The problem isn't with self-esteem but with the pursuit of self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem—comprising a positive evaluation of one's self-worth and mastery—emerges naturally and organically through the engagement of authentic mastery and positive relationships, rather than by pursuing self-esteem as the goal. Increases in healthy self-esteem as a result of spiritual practices may be a good thing, and are not necessarily indicative of spiritual narcissism, which is why it's good that the researchers were able to tie their measure of spiritual superiority to a specific form of narcissism: communal narcissism[…]

It's likely that spiritual practices can be used as a tool to bolster the narcissistic self, enhancing one's feeling that one is special and entitled to special privileges. But it's also likely that some spiritual training programs attract people with strong personal development goals that are related to Western narcissistic culture. As the researchers note, the idea of exploring one's own personal thoughts and feelings and becoming an "enlightened being" may be particularly attractive to people with high levels of both overt and covert narcissism.

"The Science of Spiritual Narcissism" (Scientific American)

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