Spiritual Privilege

lake yoga

Throughout my life I have been interested in spiritual concepts, studying and experiencing through yoga, meditation, and reading.  For a time in the early 2000’s, there were various books written about someone living an unfilled life (although they appeared to be happy to the outside world) ‘giving it all up’ or at the very least taking some time off from their everyday lives to travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic ocean to underdeveloped countries in search of a spiritual awakening.  The common theme that I noticed in these experiences and stories was the seekers usually traveled to places where they were often bewildered by the peoples’ acceptance of their circumstances of living in poverty or living without running water, electricity, or heat.  The traveler equated acceptance of circumstance with being at peace, therefore their learning consisted of “be peaceful within regardless of external circumstances.”   Personally, I couldn’t stand these stories for a few reasons,  but mainly because this viewpoint came from a place of unintentional arrogance that I just wanted to puke.  Why? It is arrogance to suggest that since someone or a People are living in squalor that they are accepting of their circumstance much less have feelings of peace about it.  This line of thinking, albeit without the poverty, was reiterated last week by Iyanla Vanzant when she tweeted, “Racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism have no power over you unless you believe they do.”  A people living in squalor, shacks, shanty towns or projects may have had little to no choice due to living in a caste-system, being born into poverty or systemic government ‘rules,’ limiting one’s options for power and advancement.  I would ask the seeker, “Do you think, the person/peoples you met,  given the opportunity, wouldn’t choose to have a better paying job, and live somewhere else with electricity, running water, surrounded with four solid walls and roof over their head? Or do you think the people would choose to stay in a life a poverty?”  Secondly, the traveling seeker, can leave and return to their normal lives in homes full of electricity, running water, and heat with no worry about food at any time.  The traveling seeker can turn the switch off and on, meaning they can go back into their lives and enjoy the comforts.  People living in poverty don’t have that option, so they have to eke out some way to find some kind of peace even if it’s momentary.

The seeker gets a momentary experience, an awakening and a shift in their perception, while the person/peoples continue to live a lifetime in poverty.  This is spiritual privilege.  It’s easier to see the ‘beauty in’ and accept a state of poverty or strife when you’re not really living in it.

Another form of spiritual privilege that I have seen grace the media recently, but has been a staple in the new thought prosperity teaching is the mind over matter, changing your perception of your situation. In an L.A. Times piece by Amy Kaufman Link Here a conversation ensued between actresses Jessica Williams, Salma Hayek and Shirley Maclaine in which Hayek posed a question to Williams, ‘Who are you when you’re not black and a woman?’  I understand what Hayek and Vanzant were attempting to say, but for some people and groups of people it’s not an option.  To ask “who am I (without my money, my job, my looks, my celebrity, my education, religion, culture and then list goes on and on…), beyond your humanness is a privilege that many people who are worried about or working multiple jobs just to put some food on the table don’t have.  People who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families don’t have the luxury of time, money or space to contemplate such questions and to do so is spiritual privilege.


Vanzant’s response to the experiences of numerous groups, especially given the recent political decisions and actions of our government is asking the people to go beyond their belief, even though their experience(s) have confirmed otherwise.  Agreed, I’m not a fan of the “Man keeping me down” frame of mind, and I’m all for accountability. But we cannot negate a person’s experiences by simply saying change your perception. You might as well just say, “You created it so you deal with it…I’ll be over here” no matter the circumstance.  Where is the compassion and Oneness, the Whole?   To tend to you is tending to myself.

How do you tell a woman who was passed over for a promotion by a man she trained that it’s best to change her belief or her perception of her situation?  Would you tell a child who has been relentlessly bullied to focus on the future of ‘this too shall pass” or do you tell the child to change his/her belief about the situation/circumstance, while continuing to be relentlessly bullied?  How about the person with cancer that has tried everything, including diligently and actively changing his beliefs about health and healing to no avail, or the person in chronic pain that finds it so difficult to believe in a pain free life because his body reminds him moment to moment?  Look, I am not devoid of this, I bought into this belief whole heartedly for many years, until I lost a friend to cancer.

Beliefs are an individual experience and to apply a belief to groups of people is a disservice to the collective reality. It is easier to tackle a belief when working with the individual, because the belief, although common, may express itself differently from person to person.  If you follow the ‘change your perception’ ideology, then you must do that individually, separately from the group, which diminishes the whole.  If everyone or most people did that,  we wouldn’t see systemic change throughout society.   Do we just close our eyes, go into prayer, change our perception of our situation and then have faith that the injustice will ‘at some point’ go away or be righted?  Who would do the work? Would we have had our Gloria Steinem’s, Martin Luther king Jr’s, or our Gandhi’s and Cesar Chavez’?  If we’ve settled for changing our perception to accept our situation to only worry about our Own standing within society, would these societal systems have changed?  I don’t think so.  If that were the case, then the Tibetans would have retrieved their nation back from China and experience less discord today about being occupied.

Individuals can lead but it’s the movements of the collective that bring about systemic change.


Sorry, It Never Gets Better with a Narcissist


Have you had the opportunity to experience being in a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath?  I’ve wanted to put out a PSA about it months ago.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to be in a personal one-on-one relationship, you are now.  You’re in a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath, yep and it’s the current POTUS.  Personally, I think many politicians are narcissists/sociopath because they’re just out for themselves, but this POTUS is such a classic textbook narcissist/sociopath that my therapist friends and I watched his campaign with bulging eye sockets, saying, “Can you believe this sh!t?!”   This real life living textbook example of what a narcissist/sociopath is a dream come true for the psychology instructor.

I don’t want to see the POTUS fail, yet in all honesty I am having difficulty with compassion considering there isn’t any compassion being displayed from him, his Fright Night cabinet or Congress. Some people aren’t aware of such behavior so they may not be able to see it, instead thinking that this is just for show. Some people are in denial and make excuses for his behavior, and still others are ‘comfortable’ with narcissistic behavior and don’t care.  But, anyone that has been in any kind of relationship or familiarity with a narcissist/sociopath knows that it never gets better.  It’s been less than 2 weeks and already it looks like a Comedy of Errors, only it’s not funny.  I wouldn’t be surprised if POTUS, his cabinet and Congress sought ways to limit the free press, access to it or instill the slow decimation of our constitutional rights. Watch, it will happen. For the people who think you’re safe, you’re not.  A narcissist/sociopath will turn on you and discard you just as soon as you are no longer needed for his plans.

Here’s what you can look froward to being in a personal relationship with a Narcissist/Sociopath. Red lettering are broad examples via the current POTUS.

In the beginning of the relationship (Campaign) you can look forward to:

  • Being swept off your feet through gestures of buying material objects, gifts, and trips.
  • Image is EVERYTHING to them and your image matters too. Makes a great impression in the beginning.  Needs the best of everything and extremely status/fame (recognition/adoration) oriented.  Loves adoration. Ever seen him or his family in a pair of sweats, with messed up hair walking on the streets of New York?
  • Being told exactly what you want to hear. Building a wall, Muslim Ban.
  • Moving fast (emotional or sexual intimacy) into a relationship, using terms such as WE and US.

In the middle of the relationship (now) you can look forward to:

  • Emotional distance perpetuated through physical distance such as
  • Working (a-holic), substance abuse, anywhere but with you.
  • Lack of Empathy for you and others.  This one is the most important. All other behavior stems from lack of empathy.  Throw in sociopathy and you have a lack of guilt.  Sound fun?  It’s interesting that people believe that this POTUS understands the average working man’s/woman’s plight.  Just because someone can identify someone’s vulnerability and use it for their own gain doesn’t translate into empathy.
  • Consistent criticisms, verbal abuse, anger outbursts, intimidation tactics escalating to possible physical abuse.  Angry Verbal attacks via twitter, attempted lawsuits.
  • Manipulations and lies even when faced with the facts and truth. You will hear bullshit more times than not. Inauguration photos. Making up numbers and information such as voter fraud, increase in crime, unemployment rates etc.  There will be much more.
  • Blatant disregard of and crossing of your boundaries.  Signing of defunding of Planned Parenthood after millions of women (men and children) marched around the world.
  • A sense of entitlement that is insatiable.  Multiple Executive orders WITHOUT going through the proper judicial channels.
  • Inability to physically or emotionally be present in times of crises, or when you need/want support such as having a baby, loss of family member, accident requiring hospital stay/assistance etc.  Repeal of ACA (Obamacare)Let’s see what happens when we have a natural disaster.
  • You’ll be blamed, shamed, and made wrong for their actions and behaviors. Blaming the media for calling out the lies and ‘alternative facts.’  This is the time in which you will begin to question yourself, and depending how healthy your sense of self is, you will feel crazy because you will feel like you entered the twilight zone. Seriously.  You try but just can’t make sense of his behavior. You will feel crazy and wonder if it’s you, but in order to appease the narcissist/sociopath and stay in the relationship you must buy into whatever alternate reality they spew. This will create anxiety and depression for you.
  • Inability to take accountability for actions and behaviors, hence you will rarely, if at all hear an apology UNLESS it has to do with something they want. The apology won’t be about you at all.  No apology has been stated.  Others take it as a positive as if being a maverick against political correctness. It’s not.
  • Constant effort to reassure your partner (no matter what you do, it will never be enough). You have to feed, coddle and burp a grown man!?  No thanks.  In POTUS’ administration, we can see and hear it by Spicer’s and Conway’s comments with the media. They spew alternative facts, otherwise they’d be fired. 
  • Consistent fighting, depending on if you set boundaries (use your voice) or just say yes to appease no matter what the cost is to you.  Marching is setting a boundary.
  • You will be objectified, they value by what they have and accumulate. The best of everything. You will have an undercurrent feeling of needing to be perfect (physically, intellectually, professionally, Status related) at all times. Again, no matter what you do, how great you look, how intelligent, or how successful you are, it will not be enough because the narcissist is always on the lookout for someone/something better. His Wives (previous models). Which brings us to
  • Affairs.  At some point, they will look and find someone else. They will have multiple affairs or long-term affairs.  Yes, and has been repeatedly accused of harassment by multiple women. 
  • Inability to maintain long-term relationships.  Multiple marriages.

Near the ‘end’ of the relationship you can look forward to:

  • Living separate lives under the same roof. This is done for self-protection, a boundary within the relationship.  If you choose to stay in the relationship long-term, this is how it will most likely be. Remember the media reported that his current wife wanted to stay in New York?. My therapist friends and I were like, “There it is!” Classic textbook. I feel for Melania, she was almost free.


So, How do you deal with a narcissist/sociopath?  There are only few options.

  1. With Kid Gloves, if you want to have some sort of relationship. Just know that the relationship will be one-sided and not in your favor.  Kid gloves = saying Yes to most everything regardless if your boundary, values or morals have been crossed.
  2. Don’t give them adoration.  Shut them out. It will drive them nuts. They will either rage or do a 180 for a time to regain the adoration.
  3. Leave.  Get out ASAP.   The healthier you are, the less likely you will tolerate being treated in such a way.  The narcissist/sociopath will often prey upon empathic or vulnerable people and will often create an environment in which their partner is financially dependent upon them. This way, they have control.  Therefore, some partners find themselves financially and psychologically trapped within the relationship.

A relationship with a narcissist/sociopath will deplete you emotionally, physically and possibly financially because they will slowly and methodically tear you down by criticizing  everything you do, everything you are until you yourself begin to feel hated and resemble just a shell of what you were.

*Note: For the national scale, what will be needed is consistent and firm boundaries (Marches/Protests) by the people of this nation.

If you choose to leave the relationship (set a boundary) before your narcissist/sociopath partner wants:

  • Be prepared for revenge tactics such as increasing financial hardship by stalling divorce proceedings thereby increasing the amount of money it takes for the divorce to become final, your partner seeking to take something of value away from you (your reputation, custody of the kids, money, house, child and spousal support, pets, tarnishing your relationship with your children by blaming you for the demise of the relationship, or using manipulation of money, material objects to sway your kid’s affection etc.).  Nice huh?

How do you know when you’re dealing with a Narcissist/Sociopath?

  • Set a Boundary and most likely you will see this person go into a rage competing with the best tantrums of the most experienced 3-4 year old.  Child.  In healthy relationships, you should be able to openly communicate with your partner. A narcissist/sociopath will see a boundary as a personal attack against them and turn the tables by attacking and blaming you. It’s their way or the highway because they don’t really care about you.  Sounds harsh, yes, but true.
  • Express a need or share with your narcissist/sociopath how their behavior affected you.  You will again, most likely get a wrath of words, anger and rage rained down upon you. See above.

Some people think that a narcissist can change.  There can be change with consistent long-term therapy.  However, I would say the change that will be seen will be fairly small. A baby takes bigger steps.  Without the empathy muscle, change is minimal.  I know I sound harsh maybe even gloomy, but this is reality when you’re dealing with a personality disorder and times2.   For the people refusing to see that this behavior is not ok because you think you’re safe, well, you’re not.  It NEVER gets better with a narcissist/sociopath.  It may appear so in the beginning, but underneath the smoke and mirrors is the truth.

“Don’t Believe the Hype.”