Challenging limiting beliefs one ghost at a time

“Tread the path of haunted souls. As darkness descends over historic buildings, the burial ground and empty pathways … the time comes to encounter the ghosts of our site.”

It can send more than shivers through the blood of believers.

It seems harmless enough to believe in ghosts doesn’t it? Some of my clients believe in ghosts or spirits, and a common response when I ask what evidence their belief is based on will be “well I’m not 100% certain but I like to think that some spirits are around”. Harmless? Maybe not.

If you’re a skeptic like me, then going on a ghost tour is going to be more of a history lesson than anything else. However if you’re a believer, then going on a ghost tour is likely to strengthen a belief that is usually derived from a helpless and powerless attitude to life. Why would someone want to believe in ghosts when there is no science-based evidence? Perhaps it’s not really a belief but instead hope? A hope that someone is watching over me, keeping me safe, and helping me make the right decisions.

Unfortunately for some, believing in ghosts and spirits can manifest into a fear that causes unhealthy stress and anxiety. The following are posts from young adults on a website that supports people with depression and anxiety:

“I do believe ghosts are real based on research and whether or not they are good or bad they just scare me. I can just imagine a normal resident on a surburban street walking and I might think that is a ghost when in reality it is a normal person on a street.”

“If ghosts didn't do anything bad to people, I wouldn't be as scared but after finding out they did more than that I am starting to worry that that will someday happen to me.”

“I had a bit of a troubled up bringing so I always used to stay with my sisters to get away from my parents. They were in the teens when I was really young and they loved horror movies. I still get nightmares about the movies and all of the monsters that came with them. I have to check all of the cupboards every time I come home and I have to get my partner to check under the bed before I get in it.”

For the young people above, going on a ghost tour is highly unlikely given their fear/phobia about ghosts. Their anticipatory anxiety which is being fuelled by their imagination would prevent them from getting past the ticket office.

And simply telling them that based on scientific evidence there's no such thing as ghosts is unlikely to change their belief or thinking. Instead, it would be far more beneficial to teach these young adults how and why their fears/phobias were created in the first place. Once they have an understanding of their psychological make-up, how their stresses and anxieties stem from unhelpful beliefs and thinking, then they'll have the self-insight to change.

Then and only then, going on a ghost tour could be a fantastic way to challenge their old and unhelpful "ghost" belief so they can continue to strengthen their self-efficacy.

The Thrive Programme is a psychological training programme that teaches people how to build strong psychological foundations so they become resilient and thrive. Happy Halloween! 

Michelle Carlyle is a coach, mentor, speaker, and Licensed Thrive Programme Consultant. “Everyone has the capacity to thrive in every aspect of their lives.”

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