If someone displays these 10 behaviors, they’re probably a spiritual narcissist

When most people think of spiritual seekers, they envision compassionate beings full of peace, love, and light.

However, you might think differently if you’ve visited a spiritual hub or attended a yoga or meditation retreat.

Perhaps you encountered someone who wouldn’t stop talking about their supposed spiritual awakening?

Or maybe they ridiculed your practice or tried to recruit you into their exclusive spiritual club.

If so, you’ve come face to face with one of the most cunning types of narcissists out there – the spiritual narcissist. 

As an avid yoga and meditation practitioner, I’ve encountered many of these. And the more I become familiar with them, the more I understand the typical behaviors they possess.

What is a spiritual narcissist?

A spiritual narcissist is NOT a genuine spiritual person. They are a fake spiritual seeker who mistakes spiritual awareness for ego.

According to cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman, spiritual narcissists believe they are special or enlightened. 

However, unlike actual enlightened beings, they don’t see themselves as equal to everyone else but as superior.

They hide their sense of self-importance behind their spiritual beliefs, practices, or ideologies. They manipulate the true qualities of spirituality, such as empathy and connection, using them for personal gain.

Here are ten typical behaviors you’ll spot in a spiritual narcissist…

1) Constantly talking about their spiritual “awakening”

If someone tells you they are awakened or enlightened, you can be sure they are NOT.

A truly awakened being does not feel the need to tell everyone.

Why?

Because enlightenment means a complete detachment from the ego.

According to yogic teachings, our ego controls us through our mind, known as “Maya” in Sanskrit. 

In the yogic scripture, The Yoga Sutras, sage Patanjali explains the goal of yoga. He says through yoga, we learn to calm the turbulence of the mind to detach from the ego and see our true nature.

So, if you need to show off your spiritual achievements, your ego is still firmly attached to you.

But spiritual narcissists don’t claim to be enlightened just to boost their inflated sense of self. They also do it for a more cunning reason, which brings me to the following behavior…

2) Positioning themselves as a guru

This is a clever way that narcissists manipulate the practice of spirituality.

They know that people look up to gurus, so they try to gain power and control by positioning themselves as one.

One common way I see people doing this is by giving themselves a “guru name” to make them appear more authoritative.

They then try to build a following by hosting classes and workshops they are not qualified to facilitate. 

Sometimes, this can start innocently. For example, someone might want to share with others a practice that was beneficial for them.

But once they start receiving positive feedback from their students, it gets to their heads, and they put themselves on a pedestal, claiming they are healers. 

This is one reason I believe the first step on any spiritual journey should be to ground yourself. 

3) Judging everyone

Spiritual narcissists not only see themselves as better than everyone else. They will tear down others for not being as “awake” or “conscious” as them.

While they may preach that “we are all one and the same,” their actions speak otherwise. 

They constantly gossip, complain, and look down on anyone they see as not spiritual enough.

This is one of the biggest giveaways of a spiritual narcissist, as they do not practice what they preach.

Spiritual narcissists claim to be all about peace, love, and acceptance. 

But it seems that they will only love and accept you if you share their exact beliefs and practice spirituality in the way they believe you should.

And if they think you aren’t conscious enough, they will take it upon themselves to “help” you, whether you want it or not, which brings me to the following behavior…

4) Giving unsolicited advice or “words of wisdom”

Spiritual narcissists will offer unsolicited spiritual advice, pretending to be helpful and caring, when in reality, they are trying to get one up on you.

You can sometimes spot the insincerity of their comments by their tone. Other times, they might use sarcasm or negging.

Pointing out your flaws and using their “wisdom” to “help” you amplifies their belief that they are superior to you (and everyone else).

5) Rejecting any belief that goes against their own

If you question anything a spiritual narcissist says, you’ll end up in a debate.

Spiritual narcissists put total faith in their religion, believing it to be the only true spiritual practice

So if you bring up an alternative religion or practice or question theirs, they will get majorly triggered. 

Spiritual narcissists will often reject your beliefs or opinions by using scriptures against you. 

Yes, these are the type of people who quote things from the bible to show you how you are wrong, and they are right.

But because they believe only their spirituality is correct, you will also notice the following behavior… 

6) Not questioning any aspect of their religion/spiritual beliefs

spiritual awakening vs If someone displays these 10 behaviors, they're probably a spiritual narcissist

I can often notice a spiritual narcissist in the making right at the beginning of their spiritual journey.

They are the person who unquestioningly accepts everything their teacher tells them without considering it for themselves.

Then, once they adopt this belief, they will never question it. 

And should you call them out on it, they will resort to the previous behavior. 

They will either debate with you or claim you’re not enlightened enough to “get it” – a classic narcissistic response.

7) Hiding or denying their flaws

Contrasting beliefs are not the only thing that spiritual narcissists reject.

They also reject the idea that they have any flaws.

Because they see themselves as special and awakened, they have developed the belief that they are perfect. 

Sometimes, they become so deluded that they are blind to their flaws. 

Other times, they simply pretend to be perfect by ensuring their flaws don’t arise in front of anyone.

Here’s an example.

In class, a meditation “guru” might claim they have overcome all their bad habits and behaviors, which is impossible because no one is perfect.

Or they might pretend they have mastered meditation when, in reality, their mind is just as hectic as everyone else’s.

So, how can you tell if someone is lying about their abilities?

They will try too hard to highlight their qualities, hoping no one will notice their flaws.

Here’s a typical way that spiritual narcissists do this…

8) Being overly nice or positive

Of course, kindness and positivity are beautiful virtues to have – if they are genuine. 

However, spiritual narcissists fake them. They come across as overly lovely, but you always sense insincerity in their compliments. 

They are also guilty of toxic positivity, which is a type of spiritual bypassing where someone excessively focuses on positive thinking while overlooking negative emotions.

Spiritual narcissists do this to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, such as low self-esteem or loneliness. 

9) Thinking they are the “chosen one”

Because superiority is a common trait of narcissism, spiritual narcissists see themselves as the “chosen one.”

They will make claims like:

  • They have a special connection with the divine or can hear messages from god
  • They have a heightened sense of intuition of psychic abilities
  • Their destiny is to be a savior of others

Because they see themselves as superior, they will form closed spiritual groups where only those whom they see as highly conscious can join.

You’ll come across these types of groups in various spiritual hubs around the world, such as Koh Phangan in Thailand.

These groups are typically a few spiritual narcissists together and a bunch of vulnerable spiritual seekers desperate for guidance from a “wiser” person.

Being in this exclusive group helps a spiritual narcissist maintain high self-esteem. So they won’t socialize outside of this group due to fear of being exposed.

Often, this results in them closing themselves off to reality and living in a bubble.  

10) Obsessively trying to look or sound spiritual 

If you want to spot a spiritual narcissist in a large group, such as at a yoga or meditation retreat, look for the person who is trying too hard to be spiritual.

These people will go to the extreme to look spiritual, choosing the most hippy, out-there clothes they can find. Their outfit is then complete with mala beads or spiritual tattoos they claim are blessed by a monk.

In case their looks are not convincing enough, they will try to sound wise and enlightened. You will notice them using big, flowery words and speaking with a soft, slow tone.

They are masters at making their speech sound beautiful, but the problem is what they say never makes any sense. 

They will make big spiritual claims without explaining them. It will sound like they are just reciting quotes from spiritual leaders, which is precisely what they are doing!

Final thoughts

Narcissists who hide behind spirituality can be incredibly difficult to spot. 

However, remember that any true spiritual leader or seeker practices what they preach. 

So if someone talks about acceptance and non-judgment, yet their behaviors scream, “I’m on a higher plane of existence than you.”, this is a clear sign they have narcissistic traits.  

Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space. I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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