Just because you meditate frequently or practice religion doesn’t mean that you’re a spiritual individual. In most cases, it’s just your spiritual ego — which is the unconscious use of practices and experiences to increase your self-importance.
But if you believe yourself to be a truly spiritual person, then you should have these 10 characteristics:
1) You don’t care about other people’s religion
If you’re indeed a spiritual person, then you know that the religion of the people around you doesn’t matter.
This puts you in a different league from spiritual egos, who think their religion or belief is far more superior than the other.
This righteousness makes them think they’re right 100% of the time.
Because of this belief, they’ll try to overpower other people – simply because they don’t believe in what they believe in.
As a spiritual person, you understand that people follow religion for a lot of things. For some, it’s simply to know their place in the universe.
That said, you don’t care or judge what religion other people follow. Instead, you understand that respect and tolerance are important for people to live harmoniously.
In other words, you don’t care if you’re dealing with a Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Muslim. You treat them the way you would anybody – with trust and respect. This is because you focus on other people’s relationship with the universe, not with their deities.
More importantly, you know for a fact that religion isn’t a requirement to become a good person.
2) You’re not judgmental
Spiritual narcissists believe they’re better than others because they’ve been to a retreat or have been ‘spiritual’ for 20 years.
This narcissism makes them judgmental – simply because they think they’re more superior than these people.
More often than not, they exhibit these 5 signs of being judgmental:
- They’re quick to pass judgment even with the lack of context
- They make negative moral evaluations of others
- They readily jump to these bad moral evaluations – often believing the worst
- They follow a moral rating system that favors them
- They move their judgments quick, i.e. instead of saying this act is not right, they believe that the person himself is not right
If you don’t exhibit any of these judgmental traits, then you have one of the many traits of a truly spiritual person.
Spiritual people are non-judgmental because they’re very mindful. Although they acknowledge that judging is an instinct, they try to understand where the person is coming from. They know that there must be a valid reason why this individual is acting this way.
Spiritual persons also know to look for the ‘basic good’ in every other person. It may be hard at first because the mind’s conditioned to think negatively. But at the end of the day, spiritually attuned people see that there’s always something good in every individual.
More importantly, spiritual people know that they should give the benefit of the doubt. They know that the people around them are just trying to do the best they can, despite their dire situation and/or limited resources.
3) You live by the saying “to each his own”
As a spiritual person, you know that each person is unique. You understand that each individual handles the responsibilities and daily stresses of life differently from another person.
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Because of this, you know that what’s best for one might not necessarily apply to another. This is why you make it a point to provide the support that’s especially suited for the person.
And for you to do so, you always take a good, hard look at the person’s wants and needs. This is your way of helping the person seek the solution for himself.
These characteristics make you very distinctive from someone with a spiritual ego. The latter, after all, identify themselves according to the path they are on.
Also known as spiritual narcissists, they often have a Messiah complex. Armed with this belief, they try hard to be gurus to other people. And instead of actually helping them out, they just impose their beliefs.
In effect, they ignore the ‘individuality’ of the person.
A spiritual person, on the other hand, won’t impose their beliefs or offer direct advice. Instead, they will help the person get right back on track.
By presenting the right perspective, spiritual individuals help these people choose the correct path for themselves.
4) You know that there are many truths in the world
In his video about the spiritual ego, Justin Brown explained that these people often have dogmatic beliefs. They only believe in certain principles, even if the evidence says otherwise.
These egotists think that they have everything figured out. They believe they have the final, absolute knowledge that nobody else can doubt or question.
Spiritual persons, on the other hand, acknowledge that there are many truths in this world. They know that no one person can answer all the existential questions in the world – not even the most spiritual individual in the world.
Logically speaking, there are indeed many types of truth. In one article, lecturer Peter Ellerton of the University of Queensland discussed each and every one of them:
This is borne of what you experience in the world. You could like the color orange, and I, blue. I can’t impose mine because what’s true for you is based on your experience. This is yours and yours alone.
This truth, as the name suggests, is defined by logic. Compared to subjective truth, this is not a matter of opinion.
If A is B, and C is A, then C is definitely B. That’s pretty much it.
This truth is worked out through analogy and generalization. It makes use of empirical observation.
For example, you might have observed that phenomenon X always occurs with phenomenon Y. This allows you to create a model to explain it – even predict any future activities that may occur with this.
While inductive truth is often used in science, some may use it for other purposes as well.
For example, you believe ghosts are real because you always see one in the basement. And while this may be dubious for others, it’s true for you – because it’s based on your experience.
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5) You’re kind and charitable to all people, always
Spiritual egos often lack humility and compassion. In his video, Justin accurately described this trait in just one sentence: they think they’re better than the people around them.
And while they might help the less fortunate from time to time, it’s often because of their Messiah complex. They feel that it’s their responsibility to save and assist others.
Spiritual persons, on the other hand, know that “Love in action is service.”
They choose to be kind at all times. They know that kindness is not a weakness that other people will exploit.
More importantly, their ‘love’ is not only for the unfortunate. They give it to every single person because they deserve it.
Apart from being kind, true spiritual persons are very charitable.
That’s because they understand the greater scheme of things. They know that charity is not only good for others, but for them as well. That’s because:
Charity makes you happy
A report has shown that giving activates the parts of the brain that deal with trust, pleasure, and social connection.
This is why you have a ‘warm glow’ whenever you give something.
It also gives you that ‘helper’s high,’ many thanks to the feel-good hormones that flood your body afterward.
Giving is good for your health
Several studies have shown that those who give/volunteer their time have a lower 5-year risk of dying.
Experts attribute this to charity’s influence on stress, an aspect linked to many health conditions. Those who offer social support, for example, have lower blood pressure levels compared to those who don’t.
Charity causes gratitude, which causes more positive things
People are grateful when they receive something, but that’s not the end of the chain.
Experts suggest that those who are thankful tend to be more optimistic. Add to that, they generally feel better about themselves.
In other words, you’re not the only one who feels positive when you give something. It effectively trickles down to the people who are thankful for your support or assistance.
Charity is contagious
Spiritual people give without expecting anything in return. They do, however, spark a chain of giving that’s very rewarding in the long run.
More often than not, you end up giving something to someone – who ends up giving another thing to someone else. In common slang, they pay it forward.
Charitable acts also end up persuading people to be just as giving.
As John Cacciopo says in his book:
“The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”
6) You love others unconditionally…
Loving people unconditionally is a noble pursuit that only spiritual persons can achieve.
After all, this unconditional love has the potential to make you feel shame or disappointment.
While it may seem the opposite, a spiritual person who shows unconditional love knows how to respect boundaries. It’s all about being responsive to other people – while affirming your wants and needs.
It’s also about being sensitive to the space between you and other people. Unconditional love means staying connected to your body. You know how to make others feel happy without compromising yourself.
More importantly, unconditional love – like spirituality – is about respect.
Your spirituality keeps you from getting frustrated when things don’t come your way. Instead, you know that you have the power to soothe yourself even when things are topsy-turvy.
More importantly, spirituality and unconditional love always equate to honesty. And it’s not just being true to others – it’s just as important to be true to yourself.
I have more about the latter below.
7) …Yet you still love yourself the way you love others
Spiritual persons know the virtue of unconditional love. That said, they know that it shouldn’t just be directed to others. It’s for oneself as well.
That means that spiritual individuals know that self-love is knowing :
- The importance of limits and boundaries.
- The right not to be looked down upon or treated unfairly.
- The privilege to put their wants and needs ahead of others.
Again, this deep understanding of self-love differentiates true spiritual persons from spiritual narcissists.
As Justin has noted in his travails, these new-age spiritual narcissists think they have it all figured out. This is why they disregard the limits and boundaries people have put before them.
As mentioned, spiritual egos lack humility. They think they’re better than others, which they feel gives them the right to belittle these people.
As their name implies, they’re total narcissists. They always put their needs in front of all others.
Spiritual persons, being the total opposite, care about other people. They care so much that they won’t let them bend over backward – even if it’s for them.
That’s because spiritual persons believe that self-love is a necessity and not something to boost one’s ego. To them, it’s a way for people to shield themselves from the damages brought about by others.
And while selflessness is heroic, spiritual individuals know better to trust their instincts. So if something in their gut tells them that something’s off, they eagerly listen to it.
8) You know that love is not always about butterflies and rainbows
Remember the time when you loved a person unconditionally, just to be betrayed by them? That’s because love is not always happy.
For one, love can make you an “addict”. Thanks to the pleasure chemical dopamine – as well as oxytocin and serotonin – love can give you an addictive high.
And once you get a taste of this love, you’ll find it hard to ignore it.
Similarly, love can make you obsessive. Apart from providing the body with a rush of the said neurotransmitters, love can trigger the part of the brain that’s activated in drug addicts.
Once this wears off, you’ll feel a loss of control that can make you so obsessed.
Unsurprisingly, love can make you reckless. When you’re in love, the parts of the brain responsible for logic and reasoning don’t work that well. As such, you tend to make brash, careless decisions when you’re in love.
Because of these, spiritual persons know that there is a dark side to loving and caring for other people. While it can make somebody happy, it can harm them just as much.
That’s because love entails sacrifice. And as a spiritual person, you understand that it’s all about going the extra mile for other people – even if they won’t do the same for you.
9) You know that love is a choice, not a feeling
Everybody’s had to make a tough choice when it comes to love. We’ve all loved a person who didn’t love us back. And yet, we pushed through – even if we knew that it would just bring us suffering.
Spiritual persons do this because they know that love is not all about fairy tale endings. Likewise, they know that professions of love need not necessarily be grand.
It could be as simple as prioritizing others before oneself. Spending quality time with loved ones is one of the 5 best ways to show your affection, after all. It’s also seen in simple acts of service, like doing the dishes or taking the trash out.
Bottom line: spiritual persons recognize that these small acts of love have a huge impact on somebody else’s life, even if they don’t stand to get anything from them.
10) You’re not a spiritual show-off
Whereas a spiritual person is modest and unassuming, spiritual egotists are well, narcissists.
They want the world to see how devoted they are to whatever religion, experience, or practice they follow.
You’ll see them flaunting their so-called spiritual trips and retreats to far-flung places. They revel in drawing attention to their so-called ‘greatness’. They like telling people about the things they’ve done.
While they think that showing off is good, it’s actually a bad way to brag.
As per Dr. Susan Whitbourne of Psychology Today, people find such braggarts unbelievable (and no, it’s not the ‘good’ unbelievable). That’s because they feel forced to take the person’s word – even without plausible evidence.
These retreat pictures are not enough to prove to them that you are indeed truly spiritual.
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Egotists also tend to rub this in other people’s faces even when the situation does not call for it. Think about this: You guys are talking about the weather. He then casually mentions that he went to a Bali retreat, where he learned spirituality in more-than-perfect weather.
On a spiritual level, showing off is actually counterintuitive. Humility, after all, is one of the 12 laws of karma. So if you’re indeed a spiritual person, then you know all about (and practice) this.
You know that you must be humble enough to accept the present as the result of your past actions.
Spiritual narcissists, on the other hand, don’t accept this. They usually see negativity, which is why they aren’t able to achieve the ‘higher level of existence’ that spiritual people enjoy.
Being a spiritual person is not just about being the total opposite of a spiritual narcissist.
It’s all about being kind, charitable, and non-judgmental.
It’s all about acknowledging every person’s uniqueness, regardless of their religions and perceived truths.
Most importantly, being spiritual is knowing the true definition of love. It’s all about accepting that love is not always happy – and that it’s quite a tough choice to make.
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