The idea for this blog post came to me when I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (credits to my bladder!), pretty much out of nowhere. As I was dragging myself out of bed and stumbling my way to the bathroom in the dark, an idea suddenly popped into my head: people are chasing ghosts! I was so convinced of the truthfulness of this thought that it took me a minute to understand what my sleepy but weirdly active brain was trying to tell me.
People have ghosts. They keep them close, always within arm’s reach. Ghosts are the means to escape reality, to take a break from the now and, most importantly, the truth. Let me explain:
Ghosts are, as the name suggests, not real.
[If, by that statement, I offended anyone who truly believes and trusts in the existence of ghosts, I sincerely apologize.]
They are made up of memories, should-bes and would-bes, dreams and wishes. Our brains fabricate ghosts because it’s soothing to have them around. They could be anything from memories − AKA the good old times − to past relationships (putting ex-partners on a pedestal or idealising the relationship) or events, to crushes on either real but never-in-a-million-years-going-to-happen-because-of-multiple-reasons people or fictional ones, like movie characters. They can also take the shape of beliefs, for example the belief that there is a very particular reason why we can’t follow our dreams. That way the ghost, AKA the belief, allows us to stay well within the boundaries of our comfort zones, preventing us from taking the leap to a potentially more fulfilled life and thus keeping us unhappy for the bigger part of our time.
I believe that the more we’re unhappy with our current lives / relationships / jobs / situations, the more we’re susceptible to cultivate ghosts. Ghosts are in fact, like so many other things we do but might not be aware of, coping strategies. We like to hide behind ghosts for a while if life gets too stressful, for whatever reason that may be, and camp out with them until we feel ready to get back out there and face the real, uncomfortable world.
This can get a little tricky if our ghosts turn into obsessions and therefore risk taking over. It is true that returning to the real world from “ghost world” can be a very sobering experience − it can feel like getting out of a warm bed on a cold and rainy winter day or having the rug pulled from under your feet − which is why it can be tempting to just stay with the ghosts for much longer than we should. I too have occasionally been guilty of staying with my ghosts, not leaving my home and maintaining a safe distance from reality for too long a period of time.
Now, I’m not saying you should get rid of all your ghosts right this moment. I mean seriously, ghosts are very comforting. What is important though, is to be aware that they are ghosts − they’re all in your head, nobody else can see them but you. Your friends and family will most probably even question the adequacy of your ghosts, if you ever choose to reveal them.
My (completely unqualified) advice is to spend some time with your ghosts if you need a break and to then send them back to ghost daycare, where they can play with all the other ghosts. Don’t use your ghosts as an excuse to stay unhappy.
I mean, it’s really unfair to the ghosts to unload that kind of responsibility on them…