I know. I know how sick you are of hearing the word “narcissist.”
It seems to be tossed around like confetti on New Year’s Eve with remnants of it sprinkled everywhere in your social media feeds and other internet sites making it even more impossible to avoid.
In fact, this topic is discussed so much that it would seem most of us are becoming experts on the subject even if none of us has a degree in Psychotherapy, but I digress.
Before I start this article, I want to make it clear that I feel most personality disorders to be trauma responses and core wounds that need healing. Secondly, my intention with this article is to remind you, the reader, to never put someone outside of you on a pedestal. You are the only guru you will ever need in life, and I promise that most yoga teachers (myself included) have our fair share of things to work through and heal from in life.
Some teachers are more conscious of the things that need healing and work actively to do so while others are only faking it in order to take advantage of the vulnerable population that yoga can attract. And lastly, I am clear that every single person in the world carries narcissistic tendencies, but there seems to be a spectrum that leads to having a full-blown personality disorder.
So, let’s take a deeper look into this, shall we?
The main ingredients that make a scrumptious narcissistic pie include:
>> 2 cups grandiose sense of self-importance
>> 1 ½ cups sense of entitlement
>> 3 full cups lying
>> 2 ½ cups avoiding responsibility
>> Add a few dashes of deception, manipulation, and gaslighting for extra pizazz and flavor
And the number one thing all narcissists need: endless amounts of love, praise, and admiration.
Picture this: you are in your favorite yoga studio with your favorite yoga teacher. You do all the adho muka savasanas (Down Dogs), urdhva muka savasanas (Up Dogs), Cat Cows, breathing, sweating, letting go that you can manage in a one-hour class. Maybe that teacher has thrown in words of affirmation or told you that you are beautiful. Maybe you cried on your mat for the first time ever as you unlocked repressed trauma in the muscles of your body. Maybe you are about to leave that class with a newfound outlook on life and you feel it necessary to tell your teacher how much you loved class or their teaching or whatever have you.
I’m not saying we don’t love knowing that something we said or did got you thinking or feeling differently, but I am saying that a covert narcissist will use that as supply for their ego. They don’t so much care that you might be going through a divorce or a spiritual awakening. They pay no mind to the fact that you are feeling an intense connection to them because what they see now is someone who they can use to suit their agenda.
Women, I know you have experienced this with some male yoga teachers and men, I’m not sure if you have or not, but this is a real occurrence.
Narcissists thrive off power and control.
When a teacher with strong narcissistic tendencies can feel the power they have over you—believe me, they will use it to their advantage. You become like putty to them where they can easily shape you into whatever they need in order to make themselves feel good.
Imagine what this type of teacher can do with an entire classroom full of willing participants? I can promise you that they will always have a source of supply and therefore a reason to drop you like a bad habit once they have had their use of you.
This isn’t to say stop going to yoga or stop giving compliments if you feel you need to, but rather to say be discerning about your experiences in a yoga class. If you have never been to yoga before and you are met with a spiritual awakening, or you are suddenly healing years of repressed trauma, understand that what you are feeling may not be entirely accurate right away.
Seek teachers who can offer guidance without misusing their power and know that even if you have inadvertently been a part of this dynamic, they are more common than you might think.
Hurt people, hurt people. And when hurting yoga teachers are not actively working on healing their sh*t, they will hurt their students—that is just what happens.
A yoga environment and a yoga teacher should be a safe space—a place of refuge, not a place where you are a pawn in someone’s inner battle with themselves.
The number one reason why some narcissists thrive as yoga teachers is simply this: power and control over vulnerable students.
When they can control an entire room, when they can feel the power of their energy over the energy of their students, they feel like the most powerful people on the planet. Therefore, do your best to read behind the smoke and mirrors, and no matter what, remember that you hold all of the answers you will ever need in life and you are the reason your practice on the mat is what it is.