Friday, November 13, 2009

Fear: The Biggest Obstacle: The Easiest to Overcome

On a chilly night, outside without a jacket, the minute you let in the cold, you begin to shiver. Once you start to shiver, you can’t stop. There is a deciding moment between ignoring cold and noticing it and letting it in that you become overtaken and you create a cascading effect.

Fear in ghost hunting (and any other situation) is much the same. Once you let in thoughts like “what if?” and it’s followed with, “I can’t handle it,” the fear escalates and fleeing with hysteria ensues. There are simple techniques for changing your trigger and response to this; “whatever happens, I’ll handle it.”

Fear is best beat down beforehand in preparation and when the mind is clear and the body free of panicky sensations.

How does one get over fears associated with ghost hunting situations? First, before even going on a study of a haunted site, the participant needs a moment of logical evaluation before the mood and atmosphere onsite make it impossible to think clearly. Fear should be assessed in terms of actual personal threat. (Remember, this applies to doing anything fearful in life). An ideal way to do this would be to watch the zillion of ghost hunting shows on TV to discover that the worst that could happen is you hear a banging sound or see something out of the corner of your eye in the shadows.

Let’s consider possible fears involved in ghost hunting and how to look at them beforehand to stop out of control emotions during the event.

Situation 1:
He considers darkness threatening because he can’t see what’s around him: Then, the obvious conclusion is to arrive in daytime or turn on the lights and get acquainted with the place. He should also give himself the option of having a small flashlight or nightvision camcorder screen for more comfort to see what’s going on. Truly, the longer he’s in the dark, the more it’ll become familiar. It’s just the newness that’s the worst part. If you’ve ever flown somewhere, flying to the destination is more unnerving and flying home is much more comfortable, as it’s all familiar from the sounds and feels of the flight.

Situation 2: He fears running into unsavory people alone in the dark: He needs a working cell phone and several friends, allowing for a few of them to simply face outward and keep eyes opened for intruders while he gets to hunt without worry of what’s over his shoulder. Lack of preparation can cause the most fearful situations. I once went onto a hunt without spare batteries. Once far into the labyrinth of dark winding corridors, I lost my light. I wasn’t scared so much as worried because the halls were filled with debris. Luckily, I had my nightvision camcorder to illuminate my way. Had I owned a cell phone, I could have used that to shed some light, as well. This is where keeping your head clear creates the best result. If I had been in the throws of trembling fear, I might not have found a way out. I might have screamed hysterically or tumbled and hurt myself.

Situation 3: He fears strange sounds, apparitions, doors slamming, or anything that might represent a haunting: This person probably should reconsider ghost hunting until he gets a logical look at these unexpected events. The truth is, every day he experiences strange sounds in his home, a cabinet he didn’t remember leaving open and the occasional scary shadow in the bedroom cast by a hanging robe on a wall peg. If it doesn’t scare him out of context, then being in a supposedly haunted place, it should have the same effect on his worry. In his own home, he’d likely figure out what window was open with something falls over on his desk. Making the same practical assumptions in a haunted site makes him a good debunker. If he were to spend a day in his quiet house, he might be able to realize that these things happen day and night in quiet buildings. That would be my best advice. Honestly, this is a hard one for me to understand, as I spend most of my time wishing something would make a noise, slam a door, make a footstep…

Situation 4: He fears possession or bodily threat: These kind of fears are more from lack of education. People raised under strict religious doctrines that includes images such as possession and the concept of “Evil” as an entity, demons, and such, will probably be best served in another line of interest. These teachings are very hard to shake. Look at the “Ghost Adventures” team. They taunt and bully and even ask “evil demons” to get them. The worst that ever happened were some superficial scratches. Some investigators choose the spiritual route when hunting and do protective prayers and charms like on “Paranormal State.” Whatever floats your boat, I say. Just do what you need to in order to ease fears if you’re determined to hunt.

The truth is the only cure for fear is information. The more you know, the more logic available to you.

Logical thinking equals logical emotions. Not lack of emotion, but emotions in keeping with the actual threat or injury.

The truth is, I’ve known a lot of logic-minded people and in an argument they seem as if they’re unfeeling. Actually, they’re having healthy emotions. They don’t have the mental distortion causing the resulting out-of-control emotion that the other participant in the argument has.

Take for instance this situation:

“Honey, I asked you to take the trash out an hour ago. Can you get it done soon? The house is starting to smell.”

A logic-minded response by the spouse would be to think, “Oh jeez, I totally forgot.” and then he says, “Okay” to his spouse and does the deed.

The illogical response would be him saying to himself, “all she ever does it pick on what I do wrong. She never notices what I do right.” The resulting irrational emotion is to be defensive and angry. Then, the he says, “I’ll get to it when I get to it. You have a problem, you take it out.” And he storms off.

There are still a lot of Old World mindsets about hauntings. They’re not always easy to get over, but they can definitely be beaten down with logic, reason, information, and exposure.

Someone asked me one time why I’d want to spend my evening poking around some dusty dark old scary place when I could be whooping it up in a bar where everyone else is congregating. I think my response was something along the lines of, “why would I want to go to a bar, crowd myself in with other humans who are drunk, smoking, and loud when I can be somewhere less scary, like a haunted building.”

It's all relative...


  1. It's not so much the fear of seeing a ghost if you choose to go into a known haunted place, it's something suddenly jumping out at you. It's peeking around a corner and suddenly a face, ghost or shadow figure is right in front of you. I get more scared of the horror flicks with the instense jumping scenes over the blood and guts scenes. You know what I'm trying to say? Being in a haunted place in the dark can intensify your fears so I like the idea of checking out the joint while the sun in still shining. I would especially want to know if a tiny little crawl space is involved. Now that's fear! Great post!

  2. Yeah, Julie. I think most people have startle responses and that's why they overuse them in movies. In fact, if a movie depends on startle response too much, they've lost my interest--its way too easy to make people jump...but to give them a tease of information and let their minds run a muck with images...Effective! If you recall Ft. Mifflin and Grant seeing the face-total startle, but then you see him dive through the window to try and find it. He startled, yeah, but then he wanted to know what the heck it was. I suspect you'd be poking your head out the window--heart beating fast, but you'd want to know too.

  3. I've never feared any of the ghosts I've encountered. I've been startled by them, like you and Julie both talked about. In one house it was an overwhelming feeling of not being welcomed at all when I opened this one closet...the energy that rushed out at me...awful. But I've never been scared. Caught off guard, yes, but I'm with Julie...I get a bigger jolt from movies where things pop out all of a sudden.

    Also, on 12/31/08 I faced my biggest fear: dying. When I learned I had cancer, I threw up. I freaked out. I let myself have my time to experience all that. I told my husband the night before, "If the news is tomorrow that I do have cancer, I'm telling you now that I'm going to let myself have whatever emotions I have, then I'm going to figure out how to get myself better."

    Before that day, I never truly understood what "fear" felt like. It'd take a hell of a lot more than a ghost to scare me these days.

    Although...I have to admit I'm still none too fond of masks...those just creep me out!

  4. Another great article Autumnforest-I enjoyed reading Julie's and Courtney's comments also!! I think number 2 is what would scare me most-I am a lot more afraid of mean flesh and blood people than i am a ghost (were i ever to meet one which i hope to do someday!)
    I think those who are scared of possession -and it seems there are many-should imagine a circle of protection around themselves-pray if they need to and any other ritual that will help them feel psychologically better-remember you are a lot stronger than whatever it is that might be trying to possess you! I would like to look into possession a little more. It is a subject that interests me and also not so much where people are possessed but say the have an entity or ghost that follows them from location to location. all the best to you my friend and i hope you enjoy the weekend coming up!!

  5. Courtney;
    Healthy attitude about being startled and scared. There are some cool techniques for making an uncomfortable place like a closet feel different. I agree about cancer. I was 17 when I was diagnosed and I was so young I didn't understand the word "carcinoma" until I got home and my mom told me. I had never heard of a young person having it. I was terrified, but then like I mentioned, I educated myself about it and asked lots of questions. Knowledge kills fear, or beats it down. I didn't let myself go to "what if" because until I got test results back, there was no answer to it. One day at a time, like they say. Braving that, though, I admit it takes a helluva lot to scare me to that extent. Oh, and I agree about masks--they both fascinate and scare me. When someone's wearing it, I'm creeped out and at the same time, I find it titillating. I think it's the possibility that they're anyone and no one at the same time... The mystery of it.