Self-Explanatory Style: Critically Important

This subject is so important, I have a big fat chapter in my upcoming book based upon one's self-explanatory style. How you interpret things happening in your world creates your heaven or hell. You see it when a woman breaks up with a man and he goes all psycho on her. His angry stalking does not mean he loved her more than other men love their women. It simply means his self explanatory style is not grounded in reality but fantasy. He's running around telling himself his life is over without her and thus he reacts as if he's trying to save his life.

There is no reality, only human interpretations about the significance of events occurring to and around him.

That being said, self explanatory style is critical in ghost hunting and also critical in regular day to day life and making it rewarding or punishing. I had a friend who was worked up and angry because her fiance brought home flowers. If you're smiling about how that would possibly be something to become enraged about, then you realize that there is self explanatory style based on reality, i.e. "My car broke down and I need to get it fixed" versus the one based on fantasy "my car broke down and it's probably going to need a new engine and I won't be able to go to work and then I'll have to pay for it with my credit card and then what if it leads to me having to move in with my mom again?"

Well, this friend was an eco-weenie. It was important to her that her fiance understand she was not into "raping the earth." So, when he brought home dead cut flowers it represented to her that he didn't get her, didn't care about the earth. Could she marry and live with someone who would raise their children with such disregard? What if it's a sign of other things, like perhaps he litters? What if he wants to buy a Christmas tree that was chopped down after decades of growth? She was getting herself quite worked up and was way off the subject of fresh cut flowers and was now into living with a psychopathic antisocial killer.

Do you see now how this might apply to ghost hunting and to real life? Having a rational emotive style and being a rational ghost hunter depends on accurate interpretations and no freestyle imagination. Once you base your feelings on as of yet nonexistent scenarios, your feelings are way out of proportion to what actually occurred. For example, when I was a kid, my father was impatient on road trips and would snarl at my mother for not reading the map quick enough. He would hint that she was not all that bright. The anger that gave us children stuck with us. As an adult, if someone were to hint I wasn't that bright, my emotions would be way out of proportion to what they just said. They suddenly became the bully my father had been and I was not standing up for just my intelligence, but my mother's as well since she never defended herself.

How do we keep our self explanatory style real? I try not to ever factor in the unknowns. If someone is sick in the hospital, I do not dance down that awful pathway of surgeries, CPR and death. I stay with what I know at the time. He is talking and not in pain any longer and we will deal with each bit of info once we get it. At least now he is tolerating it and so can I. Have you ever let your mind just runaway and you find yourself imaging something horrible and when you go back to the starting point you wonder how the hell you got down that path? You even started to feel sick in your stomach with dread and had a visceral reaction.

I use this as an example, but it's true. Imagine walking through a lemon orchard. You stop and pull a lemon from a limb and rub your fingers over the waxy dimpled surface. Take a breath of it. Now, bite into it. Your mouth waters. You were not eating a lemon, but your body reacted to the thought of it, the imagery. That is how potent your system is. It reacts to your thoughts chemically. Remember that next time you spend too much time worrying, ruminating and disaster-izing in your head.

I've seen people flee from dark buildings thinking that spirits are trying to possess them and they reacted with the appropriate fear if it were actually happening, but it was really only happening in their head. In the real world, they were standing in a damp basement and got a chill.

Now, go forth and remember to deal with the facts and only the facts and not the imagination and your emotions will be logic-based. If you ever have emotions way out of proportion to what's occurring and to the extreme, you are reacting to what you're telling yourself and not the actual situation. Get a grip on your reality versus your imagination and you will feel your emotions cooling quickly.


  1. I wonder what the ratio of extremely rational to extremely emotional ghost hunters is.

  2. This, exactly. I see it all the time: people, when faced with stressful situations, filling in the blanks with material from their own psyches rather than from the available evidence. To me, one of the biggest obstacles faced by anyone exploring the world of the paranormal is the temptation to color the large spaces between scant bits of evidence with their own interpretations of events.

    Or, maybe I missed the point of the post entirely..:)

  3. Vapor;
    I have to admit, I find it hard to keep a straight face when hunting in groups with lots of characters. Honestly, a lot of people do this work simply for titillation. They're closet adrenalin junkies who want to be scared but also don't know how to handle their own dialogue in their heads when faced with things. Some people follow their spiritual and religious doctrines for how to deal with the unknown and others have vivid imaginations. I've seen people get hysterical over very simply exampled events--both in ghost hunting and in the regular day to day world.

    You totally got it, buddy! One time, I was on a hunt and a large crowd of people showed up of differing levels of experience and self-explanatory styles. We went into a room where everyone stopped and stared into the dark void at a shape on the wall. They were certain it was a person's shape. It did, in fact, have the same height and basic shape as a person, but I don't jump to the "it's a ghost" right away. For one, it didn't move--at all. Then, as a car outside lit the window and the room temporarily, the shadow became very strong. I realized that the light from outside was lighting something up, casting a shadow and the car made it even stronger. People getting hyped up that they were seeing a ghost fled the room and others clicked off pictures excitedly. I, however, went to the other end of the room to find that behind a large column that held up the ceiling there was a coat stand with a coat on it. The light from the window (half moon outside) cast the shadow on the wall, a car came and cast it brighter. Sometimes, there is true reason to get excited when hunting, but not until you've actually tested it with logic. We naturally want to fill the rest in with our own mind's explanations and as you see on ghost hunting shows that can be anything from an evil noncorporeal spirit to a dead sea captain who misses his lighthouse to an angry ghost. It's purely how you see it.

  4. How you link raping the earth, ghosts and marriage is beyond me.

  5. CB;
    Hey, dude, this from a guy who shows his "aha! I'm doing a self testicular exam" face and how to xerox your privates? We're birds of a feather, dude.

  6. "When life doesn't give you lemons, imagine them."

  7. Sucio;
    I have to laugh, because I actually know some people who are disappointed when things don't get screwed up. It's like they were ready for a fight that never started. What do you do with all that frustration? In their cases, they just bitched and moaned that it could have gone wrong.

  8. I'm really bad at distancing my emotions from what's actually happening around me.

    All I can think of when I'm in a pitch black room is that basement scene from Silence of the Lambs, or countless other dark scenes in horror movies.

  9. Shelby;
    I'll give you a tip--you can have no emotions until you have a thought, so your issue would be more that you can't control your thoughts and your emotions follow. I know that one. I have let my mind go down dark paths before and it creates some unsettling emotions. So, you change your way of talking to yourself and explaining things that are happening and you forever change your feelings. In cognitive therapy it's called a-b-c
    a-action--something happens
    b-belief--what you tell yourself about what happened
    c-consequence--either relief or upset.

    I had a brother who was a daredevil and his take on a rollercoaster was to scream with excitement and mine was to scream with horror. Same experience-two vastly different emotions. He was saying "this is awesome--I feel free--this is wild!" I was thinking "This is high! What if it breaks? I can't get out of here!"

    Mister Sharaf;
    I am always happy that you enjoy my posts and it always makes me smile to see your picture. :-)

  10. A lot of psychology is based on the fact that we set up an interpretational barrier between ourselves and the world, as do most communication theories.
    When you break it down, we don't interact with the outside world. We interact with the barrier which translates the outside world for us. Which leads to some interesting questions in of itself, and some views like Solipsism.

  11. Les;
    You turn my head with talk like that. Yes! Our filter we use to interpret events outside of us can be ego-driven "everything that happens is because of me, either people are out to get me or hate me..." or perhaps driven by lack of ego "no one cares, what does it matter?" I see a lot of people continuing unhealthy rumination patterns and worrywart-ism that their parents exampled for them without stopping and questioning it. It is a hard thing to break, but once you make your own observations about the world without intervention from fantasy or examples of your elders, it's a very liberating thing. I could talk about this all night and sometimes I do when I'm sponsoring someone with an anxiety disorder.

  12. You are right, emotions are very wrong.But what are ghost hunters hunt then?

  13. Echo;
    I'm not sure where you're going with it, but I can tell you that the reasons for ghost hunting vary. The majority of people out there now saw shows like Ghost Hunters and got excited by the idea of encountering the unknown. They are searching for a "Oh my God!" moment. Some are searching for proof of their belief system, i.e. there is an afterlife and I can talk to the other side. Some, like me,had things happen that they can't explain by any logical means, things that are so impossible that we seek more similar encounters. If it happened once, it can happen again. So, I personally look for more encounters so I can find commonalities. The book Julie and I are putting out this October will deal with what makes some buildings better spirit vessels than others, or in other words, why some places are haunted and others are not. I want to learn why and how to repeat it, instigate it, make it happen again, find out if it's intelligent or if it's time caught in a loop or something else amazing like other dimensions or intelligent life forms without substance as we know it.

  14. I know what you mean. Sometimes it's hard to tell what people are acuatlly feeling and seeing.

  15. Golden Era;
    You're right. It's my job as an investigator to get a feel for people's explanatory style. I mostly want to probe what things came to their mind instantly when something happened. If they were jumping to elaborate conclusions, their testimony becomes weaker. It's a fact, but people who jump to ghost conclusions first make me nervous.

  16. Marduk;
    You make me blush all the way to my red roots.

  17. Sis,

    It's funny you are talking about this today. On my way home I was reading Miguel Ruiz's - The Four Agreements. Your post and his book are very much alike. I'm almost done with this book. It's very good. I highly recommend it to help those of us who tend to go to the extreme with our thoughts when it's not warranted or even necessary! LOL Yep, guilty as charged!

  18. T-Dear;
    Yes. My idols in this field who changed the way I live and how I helped people when I ran the self-help group and gave lectures, workshops and wrote articles about anxiety disorders/depression, were Albert Ellis "The New Guide to Rational Living" and David Burns "The Feeling Good Handbook." They were the "bibles" I used to help people learn to change their lives. It is remarkable when you realize what you feed your brain creates your emotional content and decisions you make and your emotional health much like what you feed your body gives you your figure/health. I'm thrilled you found that. If I had a say in it, everyone would learn these tools for living in school so that everyone could function in a healthy productive manner. It would change the world more than any religion or any laws of state.


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