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the surprising narcissism and arrogance in alternative healers

I came to the field of alternative medicine and healing through a long process of personal discovery and acceptance. Along the way I managed to accumulate a few graduate degrees and many certifications in various energetic medicine treatments. I started out with the desire to be an orthopedic surgeon. I became an energetic healer, integrative medicine practitioner, and a devourer of all kinds of philosophy and spiritual traditions.

My practice and understanding has evolved through a tripod of uncovering my self knowing (information that is true through my experience), education in other belief systems and knowings, and discerning mindfulness. As a result what I think and feel is true or truth is based in the integration and transcendence of all three.

So when I make efforts to assist others in their thinking and to help them with healing, I come at this from a deeply humble place.

What I notice, however, is that many of my peers and a number of well placed individuals in the alternative world do not practice that humility.  Indeed, I notice they display a surprising degree of arrogance and narcissism.

There is an overall intolerance, irritable impatience, and lack of empathetic compassion, in their rhetoric.  Not only do they use the same demeaning, put down tactics that have been applied to them, toward those they identify as less evolved, in addition they have a palpable disdain for them.

This attitude is also applied to those whom they are trying to assist in their consciousness elevation.

Perhaps it comes from a deep inner knowing that they are right in their beliefs.  But after my own experience with this sort of struggle and enlightenment path, through which I became more deeply aware that right/wrong destroys the chance for integrated knowing, it feels more like a power trip then a guide for consciousness evolution.

I see the narcissism and arrogance in negative comments about people in social media. The judgment of others and their beliefs.  Recently, I read a blog from a well-known alternative medicine guide, who was using a dialogue with her equally talented friend to discuss the level of banality of those seeking help.  Perhaps she was trying to lightly chide her queriers to look deeper, but her style of dialogue with her identified enlightened friend sounded more like two gals in a clique making fun of people.   Her premise of clarifying the root of the problem was completely enlightening, but her style of interacting about the issue was distanced, un-empathic, and slightly arrogant.  Perhaps what was off-putting was the two talking about people, joking, laughing, when describing the ways people get off course. In fairness, she may have thought her presentation was joining the ranks and laughing with the people, but it came across as laughing at them, with her underlying tone dismissive and superior.

I was stunned, as she had often been a being that I felt wrote of embracing healing and health with compassion and care. In consideration on her part, it may be that she was feeling frustrated about not being able to get people to understand the importance of her message and so was simply reacting.

I have a lot of training, a lot of education.  I have been in the trenches of helping people change for over twenty years.  At times I can really see through a lot of what  people are doing  when they ask for help…but I never think it is my place to think they are wrong…choices, habits, ways of being… these are deeply ingrained.  They are developed over time to make sense of nonsensical worlds and experiences.

Healing through these takes deep love and compassion toward yourself and when you have a guide who is disrespectful or superior it actually causes you to hold tighter to those habits, because in a deep place within yourself you recognize the person isn’t safe.

Looking within, facing the choices you made to survive, unearthing the beliefs you swallowed whole from your cultural and family systems requires courage, compassion and trust.  It takes time to see within yourself, to understand what it is that you are doing that hurts yourself and what it is that you would rather do for yourself.  The fastest way to impede real healthy change is to make fun of someone’s inability to see what is necessary.  Actually threatening or making fun  of someone only makes that person feel worse, and so cling to the exact thing that they need to release.

My experience is that being a healer isn’t being the know it all, superior, king of the world…it’s much more like being a caring talk show hostess, gently encouraging your audience to look inside, gently release that which doesn’t serve, and encouraging love and acceptance, embracing your true self.

This role of healer/guide is difficult. It is mostly thankless.  You are mostly invisible and unimportant in the process.  The recognition of your care and skill comes often in retrospect or mostly once you are gone.  So for individuals who want to be recognized for their power, intelligence, or sheer genius…those who want to be called healers… it is problematic.

I believe this is what drives the narcissism and arrogance in alternative healers.  They are of two minds, unintegrated.  On one hand they see the empowerment of being soulful, spirit-filled, but on the other hand they have not dealt with their inner needs for power or their reactive level of superiority.  They come by it honestly.  Constantly having to go against the grain of the society, to prove to a society that requires proof from a right/wrong perspective that living in the light, in spirit, is valuable sets up this inner split.  So that on one hand a person is able to live in the light but on the other hand to express it pulls the person back into the shadow.

I understand this.  Yet, it is something that I want to kindly address because it is harmful.  It is harmful to the identified healer and those they are intending to help.

These individuals who are presenting themselves as more highly evolved are actually acting without mindfulness, without compassion, not from a no ego state of harmony, but rather from an egotistical state of superiority and arrogance, “I know better”.

This type of superiority and intolerance seems outside of the very thing they are teaching.

It can be  human nature to defend against attack by treating another as you feel he has treated you.  But it isn’t evolved spiritual consciousness.

The evolution of consciousness requires that the response of the evolved person be compassionate, show lovingkindness, treat the other AS she would like to be treated (not as she was treated in the shadow, unintegated degree of consciousness).

This is what the Buddha references about releasing ego – no ego.  This is what is attributed to Christ to love, to see the beauty in another and forgive even when he or she harms you. This is what is part of the ten commandments and the golden or silver rule – to do unto others what you would have done unto you (or not do unto others what you would not have done unto you).

  • As you endeavor to heal yourself and evolve your consciousness, listen to the understory as well as the over story in the guidance you receive.  Listen to yourself, too.  Pay attention to your inner sensory guidance, the quiet inner voice that helps you to discern whether you are moving toward integration and wholeness.
  • You may disregard guidance that is coming from a sense of superiority or disrespect, or you may choose to listen to the kernel of the guidance and disregard the put down.

And if you are an alternative healer, listen to your own understory.  Pay attention to that which drives your desire to help.  Clarify your shadow and allow yourself to be fully integrated.  The more neutral you feel, the more love you feel, the more you allow others to be in their own space free, the more likely you are integrating your shadow and your spirit.

Spiritual consciousness evolution happens through transcending and connecting to the place where spirit and human are best, not one better than the other.

make everything sacredThe easiest way to find that is through meditation, breath, forgiveness, lovingkindness, mindfulness, and acceptance. in love and light, bg