Toxic Spirituality

When Motivational Memes Are Actually Subtle Emotional Abuse

Meme found on Facebook — author unknown

The image above on the surface looks like a powerful statement of personal empowerment, but it’s actually an internalized form of emotional abuse.

Let’s break down the concepts:

  1. Be Strong When You Are Weak — what this is really saying is that your feelings don’t matter, that you don’t deserve support and love, and that you are under a constant state of attack, so you can’t afford to be weak — toughen up or die. The healthier version of this is: Lean On Trusted Others When You Feel Weak — They Will Hold And Support You Until You Feel Strong Again
  2. Be Brave When You Are Scared — this one is actually OK — it’s saying not to allow your fear to run you. Did you know that you actually lose 10 IQ points when you are afraid? So leaning into your courage is a great way to take back those IQ points. What it doesn’t say though is to face your fears so that you may dismantle them — that is the ultimate bravery — especially when you are looking deep into the hidden places inside of you.
  3. Be Humble When You Are Victorious — This is codependency at its finest. You worked hard to win, but you shouldn’t enjoy it, instead you should feel bad for the person who lost. Your accomplishments don’t matter, your hard work doesn’t matter, your acknowledgement for those things doesn’t matter — that’s what this says. Yes, don’t be a bad sport and rub it in the other person’s face, but take your damn victory lap already. Enjoy your accomplishments and let others acknowledge you for them — you earned it.
  4. Be Badass Everyday — OMG, I don’t know about you, but that sounds exhausting — and, for the record, I am a serious badass. But even I have days where I veg out and do nothing, where I cry my heart out, where I have self doubt or wonder what’s it all for. NO ONE can be a badass every day. Asking yourself to do that is setting yourself up to NEVER be good enough because it is an unattainable goal. This is actually the most abusive statement of them all.

But surviving and thriving are not the same thing.

The spiritual world is designed to bring you into yourself — the person who is underneath the weight of all of those coping mechanisms. It’s designed to bring that authentic, powerful, beautiful, absolutely perfect just as they are person to the surface. If what you are reading asks you to stuff your feelings or makes you feel like you have to be better, do better, work harder, then it’s probably toxic spirituality.



Transformational shaman — I help spiritually-minded people break free from limiting beliefs & build lives they can love.

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Kelle Sparta, The Spirit Doctor (TM)

Transformational shaman — I help spiritually-minded people break free from limiting beliefs & build lives they can love.