Over the past several years, I’ve had a very illuminating and direct experience with something I call "Spiritual Gaslighting".
What does that mean exactly?
Someone using spiritual concepts to manipulate another into questioning his/her own sanity, truth, or perception.
How does this happen?
Well, spiritual framing and spiritual “seeing” can be used, just like any other content, to cover up, bypass, and project out old wounds that aren’t being addressed (loved).
If someone isn’t really taking responsibility for their pain, their frozen places, their wounds - they can actually use spiritual knowledge to try to manipulate, make others wrong, and totally distort the truth (even flat out lie) with sparkly spiritual wording.
Basically, their pain body utilizes spiritual material to deflect and protect itself.
I get it, who the hell wants to dive deep into pain?
but that’s where the willingness and self responsibility comes in.
that’s where the medicine is.
It can be a tricky space to speak into, as the spiritual ego is very invested in and convicted of its righteousness in order to protect itself. This can be an elusive blind spot, since it’s seemingly “enlightened” and follows some sort of logic.
The trouble is that this sort of manipulation aims to discredit the other’s sovereign connection and inner knowing, and harbors on that person’s vulnerable healing journey.
For example, a woman new to a yoga school has an experience with a male yoga teacher that felt very violating and not in full consent. She talks to the teacher to let him know about her experience and what didn’t feel good.
The teacher responds,
“Oh, you are just early on the path. This is your trust wound and resistance to the divine masculine coming up. I’m getting the guidance from spirit that you need to do some deep work on this part of yourself.”
In this scenario, the tantra teacher is using spiritual and psychological concepts to deflect a place within him that was out of integrity, and with doing so, placed the blame on the student to internalize.
This can happen easily in the teacher / student relationship as the student is already in a place of putting the other as “knowing more”, but this can also happen in a romantic relationship or friendship.
My personal experience with Spiritual Gaslighting was a huge (HUGE) cornerstone of my empowerment. Where before I would second guess, doubt, and abandon my truth in the face of someone else’s spiritual talk, I now feel very rooted in my truth and my own unique, personal connection to source. This is a MASSIVE gift to my life. A fire I had to walk through.
Here are some signs that someone is using a spiritual lens to avoid their own pain and project it out:
Strong victim mentality
Very little to zero self responsibility
Big emphasis on what “spirit says” as opposed to sharing from their personal truth, feelings, experience
Refusal to accept or even hear another’s truth, choices, or experience
Rationalizing the cause of their circumstance as being from other people’s spiritual inadequacy
A repeating history of very similar painful situations in their lives
Leaking out their shadow aspect by “Villian-izing” others
Spiritual Gaslighting is an example of why it is so important to trust yourself and cultivate a strong connection to your own truth and spirituality.
Yes, let's welcome insights, reflections, and guidance from others, but we need to be discerning of where the guidance is coming from and if it empowers or disempower us.
If you recognize a situation where this is happening, breathe deep and reconnect to your inner knowing. Being on the receiving end of such gaslighting can be an incredible entry point to your own blockages, inner pain, and tendency to outsource our power. Welcome these personal growth edges with as much grace and self love you can muster.
May we all cultivate the devotion and willingness to look within and feel our pain. To listen deeply and take self responsibility. Even when it’s hard. Even when it's inconvenient.
May we hold a torch of fierce love and compassion for the places that we or others have yet to do this.