Narcissism in spiritual counselling

Narcissism belongs to ancient Greek methodology, where one of the young Gods (handsome Narcissus) fell in love with his image reflected in a pool of water. His self-absorption led him to self-starvation and death. The term narcissism symbolises, from then on, an obsession with superficial appearance and denotes an excessive degree of self-indulgence - a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity.

What is narcissism?

In modern pop psychology, narcissism takes on an unprecedented interest and allows potential patients not only to self-diagnose. In times of pseudo-psychology, it sees that we missing out on important lessons of self-care, self-reflection, and responsibility for our development. Anything at any point can become toxic, and we gain societal approval of leaving the relationship for the sake of self-care.

A narcissist today is pronounced to be a villain; a perpetrator and manipulator who thrives on making other people’s lives miserable. He is believed to be non-transformational, emotionally unavailable, mischievous, grandiose, jealous, critical, superficial, and regularly practising gaslighting (a technique that makes you question yourself).

To be frank, it sounds almost synonymous with previous trends in feminist psychology, where our awareness about domestic violence had led us to be conscious of the smallest sign of abuse in our relationships. We perceived ourselves as victims before finally having a voice and resolving to have new beginnings in our lives, leading to divorce. Where physical, emotional, or emotional abuse was involved, those were the only choices for a domestic violence sufferer.

Narcissism and spirituality

However, therapeutic work with clients of Asian and African heritage proves that the case of difficult character is not categorical like in Eurocentric societies. It is not straight forward, primarily because their cultural and religious beliefs do not allow them to divorce, reject, move out, or move on so easily.

Therapeutic work with such clients' needs the aid of archetypes; role models close to their religious and spiritual belief systems. Diversity work needs to revolve around the client’s resilience and connectivity to other sources of self-fulfilment, such as self-development, their spirituality, or God. It is recommended to use monotheistic stories of the prophet Moses (Musa in Arabic) and present his methods of dealing with the forefather of Narcissism - Fearon himself.

His grandiosity led him to proclaim that he is a God; "O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see?" (Quran: 43:51).

His sadistic nature allowed him to become one of the first mass murderers know to human history. Musa comes in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran to teach us self-care and defensive techniques when it comes to dealing with narcissists.

His prophethood is given to him on the Mount Sinai, and his reaction to it was sheer fear. What we can learn from his reaction is quite interesting. Musa asked for direct help from God in the ability to self-represent, but also requested his own brother’s companionship. God instructed him to be gentle in speech, inspired him with eloquence, inner-resilience, and granted prophethood to Aron (Harun in Arabic).

"My Lord, put my heart at peace for me and make my task easy for me and remove the knot from my tongue, that they may understand my speech" (Quran: 20:25-28).

We learn that in the case of dealing with narcissists, not only do we need to be eloquent, conscious, and kind in our speech mannerism but also that we need the support of others (siblings, friends, and therapists).

Asiya, a Faro’s wife, also came with archetypal aid for those of us who feel we running out of resources in relationship with such strong characters. She knew that investing 90% of her energy in the emotionally unavailable spouse would be detrimental to her mental health. She chose a stepson (Musa) for an opportunity to explore motherhood as well as investing herself in spiritual development. She became one of the first followers of the message of true religion. She realised that narcissists are not changeable, and therefore changed herself and redirected own attention into self-love and decided to seek positivity from other sources than just her spouse.

Living with narcissists, being brought up by one (or two), marrying one, or even becoming one is just a part of a bigger plan for us. The religion-orientated clients tend to see their mental health becoming stronger through disassociating themselves from the romantic relationship inclination and submitting themselves to God’s destiny (Qadr in Arabic). The experience of this world should get us closer to the universal truth within our inner world, as well as connecting us to the source (God).

People we meet in our lives are always bringing valuable lessons, which should, in theory, enable us to grow as a person, ease the understanding of higher values and ethics, and challenge to embrace new moral characteristics or personality trades. For narcissists, this might be simply more difficult than for the rest of us.

Moreover, underneath their superficial facade, what therapists will find is spiritual emptiness and low self-esteem. It seems that nowadays we are too vindictive and forget about giving each other second chance, with a multitude of excuses and relying on defensives far too easily.

"If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves" - Hamdun Al-Qassar

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Written by Ayishah (AJ) Swiecinska

AJ Swiecinska, Msc Psychology, Lic Homeopathy, Dip Integrative and Spiritual Psychotherapy and Counselling, Dip Holistic Therapies. She is researching the subject of transpersonal and spiritual psychotherapy in her independent studies. She is practicing integrative therapies alongside own spiritual counselling research.… Read more

Written by Ayishah (AJ) Swiecinska

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