I think it would be fair to say that at some point we have all been haunted by something - a past mistake/regret, a past relationship (romantic or not), maybe it is your own shadow, or perhaps it is something else entirely.
For some, the haunting might be quick and fleeting. For others, it is a long and arduous process, with intense periods of pleading with whatever that is haunting you to leave you alone for just one night.
The tricky part about the things that haunt us is that the harder we try to get rid of them the more they stick around. These things typically follow us wherever we go. So then what?
The pithy and psychological part of me whispers “acceptance” - learn to accept the things that haunt us. But the cynical part of me argues that this is so counterintuitive and who wants to “accept” being haunted. When I say “accept” I don’t mean resigning yourself to being haunted, but rather learning to accept the fact that the things that haunt us are present.
If we use an analogy and call the things that haunt us “monsters,” the more we attack or threaten the “monster” by trying to get rid of it, the more enraged and threatened the “monster” feels and is more likely to attack to preserve itself. But if we approach the “monster” with a sense of openness and curiosity, try to understand why the “monster” is there, the “monster” doesn’t feel so threatened or feel the need to attack.
This isn’t a perfect analogy, because I’m sure some of you are thinking, “well if I approach the ‘monster’ with openness and curiosity, without being armed, it’s just going to eat me alive.” That might happen…but it might not. But if you attack, it will most likely attack back.
How do we accept the things that haunt us? How do we allow space for the darker things of ourselves and life?
Here’s the thing - the darker parts are already there whether you accept them or not. So what do you have to lose in trying on acceptance?
Acceptance is a continuous act, a continuous choice of learning to come back to a posture of openness and acceptance. It is an action that we will all miss and have to come back to again and again. And we have to learn to accept that sometimes we don’t want to accept the fact that we have to accept things.
It is a haunting case of acceptance for us all ...