Haunted houses spring up all across the country this time of year as a way of celebrating Halloween. Every year our local newspaper provides a guide to the local haunted houses complete with a rating system that rates each house for its fright factor. Instead of the star system that is used by the movie critic, the haunted houses receive ratings on a scale of one to five ghosts. This system helps parents and children alike to choose the house that matches their appetite for fright. When it comes to our emotional wellness, one of the many important influences that effects our well-being is the kind of home in which we grew up. Some of us were blessed to grow up in homes with a stable emotional atmosphere. Others of us grew up in homes that were haunted with high degrees of emotional turmoil; homes that may have been haunted with verbal abuse, untreated mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, or domestic violence.
There are obvious and significant differences between the haunted houses of Halloween and haunted houses of emotional turmoil. The former are not real and the latter are all too real. A person can choose whether they want to enter a Halloween haunted house, but no one gets to choose the home and family he or she enters at birth. The good news though is that we can choose to leave behind the effects of a home that was haunted with emotional dis-ease and turmoil.
It is one thing to physically leave our childhood homes, it is quite another to leave them emotionally and spiritually. A person who grew up in a critical, shame-based home may not be aware of how much those ghosts of shame and criticism influence the way they treat themselves and others. A person who grew up in a house haunted with anger, alcoholism or other drugs will have to be quite intentional to prevent those ghosts from residing in their own emotional houses as adults.
So if you are aware of some ghosts that are haunting your emotional, spiritual or relational house today, what can you do? Or in the words of a movie that is always popular this time of year, “Who ya gonna call?” The answer, as we know from the movie, is “Ghostbusters!”
Here are a few brief ghost busting tips to help with your emotional wellness: First, and most importantly, if you are struggling with some ghosts from your past, break through any denial that you may have and face the issues directly. You cannot work to rid yourself of the ghosts that may live in your life if you do not first acknowledge that they are there.
Let others in and ask for help as you work to leave these ghosts behind. Seek support from friends, family members, a counselor, a support group and your faith community.
Seek help from God or your Higher Power. Spiritual support is invaluable as you discover that there is a higher Love that can cast out the fear of any ghosts from your past.
Be patient and gentle with yourself. Celebrate the fact that you are on a journey of healing and wholeness and that real change and growth takes time.
Happy Halloween everyone. And remember, if you do find yourself entering a haunted house of any kind, never go alone. Be sure to surround yourself with others to help keep you safe.