We’ve all been there. Those moments when we feel haunted by old ghosts moving through the corridors of our inner being. The chill that walks across our skin, the clutch of fear in the solar plexus.
In tandem with the physical sensation, our brains light up and we are transported to a distant time attached to a distant hurt and suddenly we are in the presence of an emotional visitation.
It’s unsettling to find ourselves without an anchor as we experience a real and visceral sensation of regressing inside. We slide into old memories of feeling unsafe. The perfect hunting ground for a disembodied spirit.
Our ghosts don’t only live within, they attach themselves to outside experiences and color our perceptions. Old dramas being played out in the present day can sometimes feel like being possessed. We get triggered by challenging situations or people who remind us of old pain and this response signals to us that we should be afraid. The world takes on a dangerous tilt and we find ourselves slipping into the uncomfortable clothing of being wounded.
Being reactive often leaves us feeling ripped open and vulnerable so that we begin to seek validation from the outside world that we are somehow “faulty.” Or perhaps we seek validation that others are at fault and we fight for that right—our right to be right. No matter the ways we process old pain, it always has the same result. We are left feeling haunted.
Haunted by a past that has unresolved issues.
It’s often the people who get under our skin the most who dredge up our pain and inner woundings. They conjure up our closeted skeletons and their presence rattles our bones and strikes up a discordant orchestra of inner voices. Sometimes they remind us of someone else, someone who hurt us, or perhaps parts of ourselves we are not ready to face. We are haunted by feelings of insecurity or inadequacy. We bristle with strong emotions, perhaps reading into their words or actions and applying our own interpretations.
Oftentimes we won’t even know why we feel so reactive but the trigger effects of the past show up in the guise of today’s faces. Our subconscious replays old threats and we find ourselves fighting off demons that we thought were long gone. That’s the thing about ghosts, they never leave until we confront them and ask them to.
So how do we embrace them? Because it’s hard to love what we fear.
Fear is a powerful force. But so is forgiveness. Perhaps it’s easier to forgive when we see old ghosts for what they are: Echoes of our past. Those splintered parts of us, wounded and unsolved, discarded somewhere in decades of old. Stuck in the mists of time, with half a heartbeat and full access to your consciousness.
How do we love those parts of ourselves that haven’t yet figured out how to move to the light?
When we embrace the pain as parts of ourselves, the faces and problems of today become a mirror. We begin to understand that those things we react to in others is often our own trapped pain seeking any way out and manifesting itself to be seen and healed. When we consider old ghosts as our allies, we open a pathway to working with them in an effort to understand where the pain lies.
The more we connect what’s happening now to unresolved pain and issues from the past, the easier it becomes to recognize the root cause in the present day. We no longer connect to drama as a way of working out our trapped pain because we recognize our triggers. In embracing compassion, we become brave. We stop being a slave to our emotional reactivity and we release our connection to invisible fear. We are no longer haunted by our past because we release our ghosts back to the light. In essence, we reclaim our emotional bodies and accepting our lost and broken parts is the key to exorcising the past.
Old ghosts are like wounded children. Fractured and insecure from unmet needs, they need someone to set boundaries. Someone to help them find their way out of the dark. And It’s okay to ask them to leave. When we recognize that they are simply parts of us that need to die off and be released, we can work on exorcising them.
It’s tricky when they come through in whatever form. Lifting up the corners of your mind that you haven’t swept clean. Itching your skin and fogging your perception. Plucking your strings with their ghost notes from another time. Being haunted is part of inhabiting a body that says “I have lived,” but being free is knowing that living means being fully alive.
Our ghosts are part of us and in embracing them, we set them free.
Author: Elle Newlands
Editor: Travis May
Image: www.zentography.net (Author’s site)
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