8 Forms of Spiritual Gaslighting and How to Mitigate Them

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Gaslighting occurs when a person manipulates another by making them doubt their reality. When this perpetrator uses spirituality as their weapon for the manipulation, it becomes spiritual gaslighting. More so, it can be on purpose or unintentional. Think about it; a parent claiming a child is wrong because they chose a different spiritual path from the parent could be spiritually gaslighting the child without knowing it. Yet, the trauma from this emotional abuse can last for a lifetime. So, are you spiritually gaslighting someone without knowing? Let’s find out below: –

Why Do People Spiritually Gaslight Others?

There are three instances when an individual feels the need to spiritually gaslight another. First, most spiritual narcissists use their knowledge on spirituality to control or manipulate a person or community into doubting their reality and beliefs. To them, this abuse feeds their need for admiration, resources, or ego-centric personality. 

Still, there are those that use spiritual gaslighting as a form of image or damage control. Here, the exploitation helps to cover their mistakes, allowing them to avoid responsibility. However, some people spiritually gaslight others unintentionally.  

8 Forms of Spiritual Gaslighting You Should Know

Gaslighting in spiritual communities can present itself as follows: –

#1: The Guilty Advocate

Do you know of someone in your spiritual circles that is very vocal against something? You know, that friend who considers himself spiritually awake and thinks that he has the right to judge or even shame people that he sees as “unawake”. Or, it could be a spiritual teacher who is very vocal against anything that he considers “material”. They call out anyone doing these things. Yet, they may not be adhering to these same rules when behind closed doors. 

And, since they are an authority in their spiritual circles, you expect them to be the last people doing it. Hence should they get caught doing what they advocate against, they may reply as follows: –

“How dare you accuse me of doing these things? You know how I feel about this subject.“ Such a reply puts the other person in a defensive position. And now, you have to defend yourself for catching them in the act.

“The dark entities attacked me and made me do it.” Here, when caught, the manipulators blame their actions on spiritual energy beyond their control. And others may even say this negative spiritual energy that made them do it is coming from you.

#2: Using Partial Truths

Some people take an indisputable truth in your spiritual beliefs and use it to question them. For example, they may refer to sacred texts, quotes from spiritual teachers you follow, or conspiracy theory you resonate with, and insist that if you believe in them, then you should also believe the lies they are trying to tell you. 

Alternatively, they may say that if you do not believe in their half-truths then automatically you also do not believe in the spiritual texts that are indisputably true. This tactic works when the spiritual narcissist uses spiritual knowledge that everyone holds as true, to convince you to doubt yourself. 

#3: Victim Shaming & Blaming

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Do you know of instances where an entire community gathers to shame a victim for speaking out about abuse? Like when a victim of domestic violence or rape reveals that the perpetrator is a spiritual authority in the community. We all have heard the horrible stories about how very well-known spiritual teachers sexually abused their followers. Here the spiritual gaslighting community claims that the victim is to blame because: –

  • He/she is simply lying
  • The victim provoked the abuser
  • It was a matter of being at the wrong place 
  • The victim should have known better and not trusted the abuser

Victim blaming and shaming emanate from society and those around the victim, not the abuser. It is prevalent amongst persons with strong spiritual beliefs, especially when the spiritual leader or a highly respected person in that community is the alleged abuser. 

#4: Shaming People for Their Feelings

We all get angry or sad at times. Yet, some will shame you for having these feelings. They may imply that your spiritual personality has no room for anger or sadness. More so, they make you believe that these feelings are a sign that you are spiritually immature. Yet, maybe they are the ones making you sad and angry. 

#5: The God Complex

The God Complex refers to those people who view themselves as better than others based on their spiritual beliefs. As spiritual beings, none of us is better than another; each of us follows his/her unique spiritual path in his/her own pace that cannot be compared to anybody else’s.

However, when you deal with a spiritual narcissist, his/her God Complex may make them use their authoritative position to validate what they are doing and avoid becoming accountable for their actions (mistakes).

#6: Making Others Doubt Their Spiritual Beliefs Based on their Ability to Forgive

Now, forgiveness happens when we are ready to let go of the hurt. Hence, only you can decide when the right time to forgive is. Yet, a spiritual gaslighter can claim your struggling with forgiveness says a lot about your level of spiritual development. Others may refer to quotes from spiritual teachers that imply you must forgive. 

#7: Mocking Anyone of Different Spiritual Beliefs

Spiritual beliefs vary from one person to another. Our belief system forms the basis of who we are, even for an atheist. More so, we all want to believe that we are on the right spiritual path. Still, a spiritual gaslighter will quickly say you are wrong when you do not share the same spiritual beliefs. This person may make fun of your spirituality or religion to attack you indirectly. 

By mocking your spirituality, the manipulator aims at changing them forcefully, hence, challenging your free will.

#8: Putting You Down for Correcting a Spiritual Authority

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Suppose you are in a spiritual gathering, and you notice the agenda of the meeting has some misinterpretation to it. If you rise to clarify this, a spiritual gaslighting person may shut you down instead of giving you a chance to explain yourself. They view you as attacking their personality and not rectifying the misconception. In this case, you have to remember that if it’s not allowed to question, it’s not spirituality, but propaganda.


Spiritual gaslighting is rampant with people on their spiritual journeys. It entails someone using spiritual concepts to gaslight another. These manipulators want to look superior based on their spiritual beliefs. And since they disagree with your actions, they want to make you doubt your spiritual beliefs. Use the above list to confirm if you are going through spiritual gaslighting.