Ever noticed that certain things, actions, habits start an automatic script for you?  You smell a certain scent and it immediately brings up the same old memory of the same person told exactly the same way that you always remember them?  Or you see something and you instantly hear the voice of someone from your family criticising you or arguing with you and telling you something unpleasant? It’s like a penny that’s been worn smooth with all the rubbing. A mental habit you can’t control because it’s knee jerk.  You see or hear or feel something and the tape starts rolling.  I call it the haunted house effect.

People talk about old tapes playing, but you can turn off the DVD player or the 8-track or whatever mechanism is running in there.  Take the vinyl off and put it back in its collector sleeve in the milk crate where it belongs, already. There are narratives that we repeat to ourselves in order to keep them fresh and relevant.  Stories of who we are, rightly or wrongly, and what we deserve as well as who we could be.  Changing the narrative changes how we perceive ourselves and how we act, therefore how the world perceives us and how it responds.  But what happens with the haunted house?  In a haunted house the person didn’t create it, didn’t furnish it, isn’t actively encouraging the haunting, they are simply impacted by it.  They live in a building with its own history and personality.  Each board and nail and fixture tells a story, sometimes forcefully, sometimes subliminally, trying to make the person take on the house’s agenda.

Lots of people suffer from hauntings in this way.  Seeing something in a store and hearing the whisper of why they can’t have it and they are bad for even wanting it. Cooking something and hearing the echo of others saying to do it differently because how they are doing it is wasteful, stupid, too expensive, too plain, the wrong choice…. Choosing this job for this reason and all the while feeling like someone else is trying to take over your body, trying to force you to take on a job or a career that matches what they wanted to do which has nothing to do with you.  Feeling torn in two because the expectations and the need rolls through you like fog while all the time it’s brightly lit in the real world outside.  With a haunting it’s not enough to understand the issue.  Confronting the ghost doesn’t do much because it’s a ghost. A left over of unfulfilled need and want.  It’s someone else’s issues that have waited for another person to take them on.  Family and friends and ex-lovers have left them behind in your head.  They aren’t yours, they aren’t a failure or something to be healed.  They need to be evicted.  Banishing them is the only way to release them so you can be free.

The first step to doing this is to recognize that these tapes, feelings, desires, aren’t yours.  They are a haunting, a remnant of someone else’s issues.  Once you can see them clearly, they lose their hold over you.  They become powerless.  It’s then possible to send them into the light.