Remember when you were a child, and you asked your mom to keep the lights on when you went to bed at night? Even though your mom assured you that ghosts and monsters were not real, you didn’t buy it. So, your mom left your door open a crack or turned on your nightlight to stop the haunt. If she didn’t, she knew that you’d probably have an inevitable meltdown.
As an adult, you now know that the ghosts were all in your head. Perhaps you even try to convince your child of the same thing. But, sometimes, our thoughts feel more real than reality itself.
This can especially be the case with thoughts that haunt us from our past. As we experience the world around us, we form beliefs, biases, and negative labels. Then we reinforce those thoughts continuously throughout the day – often without even realizing it. We begin to believe that other people view us according to these thoughts, and project our beliefs, biases, and negative labels onto them.
These thoughts and feelings are the ghosts in the closets of our minds. They stealthily haunt us, impacting every relationship – including our relationship with ourselves. These ghosts make us feel small, inadequate, and incompetent. They make us feel like victims.
#1. TURN THE LIGHTS ON.
We fear what we cannot see. So, turn the lights on. Take a closer look at which thoughts haunt you and where they came from.
Maybe you were bullied in elementary school, and you formed a belief that everyone will turn against you. — Turn the lights on that and take a closer look at it.
Perhaps your mother constantly criticized your body size, so now you harshly criticize yourself (and imagine everyone else does, too). — Turn the lights on. Get to know this thought.
Once the lights are on, just watch. Watch how these ghosts pop up in your life. Notice patterns. Pay attention to what triggers their appearance. As soon as you see them and get to know their behaviors, these ghosts will no longer scare you.
#2. ASK YOURSELF: ARE THESE GHOSTS REAL?
Not everything we think and feel is reality. There were no monsters under your bed or ghosts in your closet as a child. You believed there were, but that didn’t make it true.
The same goes for our beliefs, biases, and negative labels. Just because you think them, doesn’t mean they’re true.
So, once you turn the lights on and get to know these thoughts, ask yourself, “Is this really true?” The answer may surprise you.
#3. TALK BACK.
You don’t have to be a victim. Once you turn the lights on and recognize that many of the thoughts aren’t true, it’s time to talk back. Tell these ghosts that they’re not welcome in your psyche, and tell them that you don’t believe they’re real. Proclaim that you won’t be a victim anymore.
Stop letting the ghosts of your past haunt you.