The most rewarding part of working with people who experience phenomenon in their homes is helping them to reframe the experience and make peace with the fact that ghosts represent something most modern humans do not appreciate; they are unpredictable!
At some point in your life, you’ve probably gone into a place, maybe a basement or attic or shed, and someone with you became unbelievably hysterical, clawed their way out of there, and couldn’t stop squealing and trembling. Why? The sight of a spider. Why didn’t the girl on the other side of you react the same way? Because a spider means nothing more than how you perceive it. To some, a spider is a crawly thing that can be poisonous, hide in places, get caught in your hair, and tickle your flesh. Ick! To others, they’re the ones who belong in the place you’re poking around in. It’s their home. They’re fascinating in that they can build these enormous webs and catch bugs. They remind them of “Charlotte’s Web.” The creatures certainly aren’t interested in humans, in fact, they’d like to stay clear of us (many of us happen to scream loudly and rush about scaring off their prey).
A haunting is exactly the same. To some, an unexplained sound, a dark shadow, or anything that represents a haunting is unnatural and surely dark and evil. To others, it’s a fact of life and death and, like the spider, they have equal right to the property. If you don’t fear people when they’re alive, you certainly shouldn’t be getting frantic when they’re in their spirit form. In fact, you have less to fear from them; they don’t pack guns.
When I wander through old graveyards, I bring flowers. I leave one graves of people long deceased, ones who have no one to visit them anymore that ever knew them when they were alive. I set down the flower and I say their name aloud several times and read their headstone and introduce myself and thank them for letting me visit. Now, I am not in any way certain a spirit is hovering around its bones waiting for a visit, but there is something very respectful and wonderful about knowing that for decades and sometimes centuries no one has said their name out loud and now you have. You made them exist again for a few moments. Someone was talking about them.
The same level of respect should be shown for haunting cohabitants.
We’ve been taught that ghosts are sort of like Patrick Swayze in “Ghost.” They are the same person, only invisible and hovering around watching your life and desperately trying to warn you of impending doom. The fact is, even though a place can be haunted, it usually has long stretches of time with no activity and then bursts of it all at once. It’s as if the right conditions must be present for a spirit to be in attendance.
The exception to that would be a residual haunting which I believe are easily 80% or more of hauntings. That’s an event that replays through sound (footsteps, voices) or visual (person standing in front of the window).
Before you get your knickers in a knot, see if you’re dealing with something that can communicate or something that's nothing more than a recording.
Keep a journal for some time. Take note of whether you often hear footsteps upstairs or you smell cigar smoke in the den or several people have seen a figure in the hallway. These are not in any way indicative of an interactive intelligent haunting. When these are reported over time in similar places and similar manners, you’re dealing with a residual and there is no one there present to see you undress in your bedroom or pee on the potty, so take a deep breath and relax. You are dealing with memories held by the environment and played over. It’s sort of like the way the house groans on a cold night when the heater turns on or the grooves in the floor where you drag your office chair or the heat on the desert causes mirages. Perfectly natural.
It’s still up in the air if poltergeists are intelligent beings or simply some kind of kinetic/psychokinetic activity. It does tend to happen in homes where haunting activities are also displayed, so they seem to go hand-in-hand. Should you have objects pop up in strange places or things come crashing down for no apparent reason, it’s a good idea to keep a watch on it. A true poltergeist activity will come in waves so there should be many more coming up. If it’s one random thing—probably an explainable thing like an item in your home simply set on its edge and slipped.
Intelligent hauntings? We usually find out about those through EVPs that appear to display answers to questions. I’m highly skeptical of the efficacy of EVPs, but an intelligent haunting would involve a display by the spirit that it heard you and is responding, interacting. We see this on ghost hunting shows a lot when they ask for the spirit to finish the “shave and a haircut” finger knock (why they do this for 100+ year old spirits, I don’t know--isn't that a depression era ditty?) However, even if an intelligent haunting were the case in your home, that doesn’t mean he’s got nothing else to do with the afterlife than to study you naked or making love on your bed. Remember, these are spirits, not humans. Humans have chemicals, urges, and anatomy. Nor is there any need for anger, pettiness, or possessiveness in the spirit world. They are beyond the issues we have in human form. They know pure love and complete and total release from worldly sorrow. Just recall what NDE (near death experiences) folks report; absolute true love.
So on those rare occasions ghosts may be present in the time line of your existence in your home, consider yourself quite honored and lucky to bump up against a set of circumstances that are extremely rare to create in order for the contact to occur.