We all have them on some level or another. They are the thoughts and feelings we try to stuff into the deep dark corners of our psyche. We hope if we ignore them, they’ll go away. But they don’t. They lay in rest until some event calls them out of hiding to haunt us with negative, sad, or depressive moods.
These ghosts have many names. Shame, Regret, and Guilt are the most well known. They stem from events in our past. So feelings like shame for how we reacted in a particular situation, guilt over something we did that we wish we could undo, regret over not acting on our dreams become our ghosts. Sometimes those feelings are because of things other people have said to us, or how we were treated, bullied, or rejected.
I call them ghosts, because they are all remnants of the past. The past is dead. These left over, or hindsight feelings, are the walking dead. They have a way of creating some painful situations for us to deal with and if they are haunting enough, they cause us to shut out the joy that could be had in the right here and right now.
Are you ready to send these ghosts into the light? Sometimes we cling to the ghosts, they are familiar to us, or we think they keep us from repeating the same mistakes. But that is just our ego trying to keep us stuck. Your ego tries so hard to keep you safe, but like a bird in a cage, you’ll never fly free if you allow your ego to make all your decisions.
Call the Ghosts Out
Allow the ghosts to come into the light, look them in the face and name them. Ideally you will want to start with the least bothersome. For example “I regret not studying for my third grade spelling bee”. This will give you experience and help you build up some strength in order to deal with the Monster Ghosts.
Write the ghost’s details down, draw a picture, make a sculpture or clothespin dolly. However you best like to express yourself. Imagine the entire story of the ghost going from your mind onto the paper or material you are working with.
If it starts to get too painful for you, take a break. Realize that some of the feelings will be challenging to allow to flow through you. Take deep breaths and allow the feelings to flow. Stay busy getting them out in the work of art you’re creating, they will begin to subside.
If you start to reach ghosts that seem too big for you, reach out for help. Find a trusted loved one, a spiritual counselor, or therapist and have them help you with the biggest ghosts. You can just work on the smaller ones until you get help for the big ones.
Now that you have the ghost(s) out of your mind and into whatever material you used, it’s time to address them. Also address the you from the past. Acknowledge that you were doing the best in that time period and even if there were poor decisions made, it was based on finding love, security, or happiness.
Forgive yourself, everyone, and everything that is included with this ghost. Forgiving means you are releasing the suffering that the resentment, anger, and other ghosts have held onto when you haven’t forgiven.
Reflect on the lesson you learned from experience. Name it, then write or create another work of art to represent the lesson you will carry with you from now on, instead of the ghost. Attach a mantra to your new lesson to help you in case the ghost decides to re-enter your mind. For example, “Even though I was bullied, I deeply and profoundly love myself, I will carry that love”.
When you have your completed your Lesson materials and mantras, it is now time to say a formal goodbye to the ghosts. Thank them for their interest in helping you remember what you DON’T want to continue to lug around with you in your future. Then burn, bury, or otherwise remove the ghosts from your environment.
Welcome Home Party
At this point, you have gotten the ghosts out of your mind, replaced them with grateful messages about the lessons you learned, and buried the ghosts. It’s now time to have a Welcome Home Party for the peaceful happy feelings that now have room to come into your life!