Sometimes we become emotionally attached to an experience, evidence, history and even a location. How can this impact us during an investigation? How can we use this to our advantage?
When you first start investigating the paranormal, it feels like a bit of a drug. Often when you start, you are visiting the same location on a regular basis. The first place you start your investigating is always going to hold that special place in your heart. It is likely where you have had a lot of thought provoking and even life changing experiences. When you are visiting a place so frequently, you are going to develop an emotional attachment to it. I have been investigating out of Black Rock House for 5 years now. I was one of the first people to investigate the location and I know the location inside and out. It may be silly, but when I open up the house when I arrive I call out 'Hi everyone its Sarah Im here!' I don't know if I am even talking to anyone or anything but I do it because I have that attachment to location. When you have an attachment to a location, you are likely researching the history connected to that location. It can become quite addictive. I have loads of folders of newspaper clippings, reports, biographies etc on the different locations I have researched. You start to become attached to the people and their stories. When I first started investigating the paranormal, I was pretty honest in that my favourite part was not anything paranormal. My favourite part was being able to tell the stories of people who were no longer with us. There were not famous people that are remembered by everyone. They were the every day people that were servants, house keepers, families and even prisoners who often led hard lives. Some of them did amazing things that would otherwise never been known. By hitting the history books and finding all of this information about a person, I felt like I was able to share their story with people and honour them in a way. Of course as investigators we often look for evidence on a paranormal to see if whatever it is we think we are communicating can validate this information. A lot of people work backwards and will receive for example a name from a location which they then try to validate historically. There is a big debate in the field if you should know this historical information before you go in because that knowledge is considered a bias and you can make connections that are not there. While that is a discussion for another time, when you do get what you believe is a piece of evidence relevant to a person or a location, it is pretty exciting and of course you are going to become a bit attached to that piece of evidence.
When we think we have caught something paranormal, we become very attached to the idea that it is indeed something paranormal. Likely the evidence was caught while a lot of other things were happening at the same time for us to think that what we have caught has some merit. When we present the evidence to another person, already they are going to see things differently. They are going to see it as a stand alone piece of evidence. Most evidence of course cannot hold up to these standards. The reviewer is not necessarily seeing the full picture of what is happening simply because most investigators don't have the tools or controls to be able to scientifically present that. What you are left with, is a person's word. We have to take their word when they tell us that no one was there. We have to take their word about conditions etc. We have very much developed an 'If I wasn't there it didn't happen' sort of attitude and I know I have to check myself with this a lot too when people present me with something they want my opinion on. Often when we do offer our opinion, the person presenting this piece of evidence is reluctant to accept it. Perhaps this piece of evidence was a validation to an experience they have had. Deep down they may feel in their gut that they just know it is something paranormal. They have developed an emotional attachment to this piece of evidence. You see this happen a lot when people present photos on social media often saying that it is proof their loved one was visiting or that an angel is looking out for them. It goes deeper than the piece of evidence that has been presented. In a way you are not just saying to them, 'no this is a case of lens flare from that light over there'. They feel like you are saying 'no your loved one is not with you.' While some are very blunt in the delivery, others do try to be sympathetic by saying 'hey this is lens flare but that doesn't mean they are not with you, they probably are, this is just not evidence of that'.' Most of the time, they will still not accept this because again they have that emotional attachment. I honestly don't think this kind of thing will ever stop so I know I don't review or comment on these kinds of things anymore. They feel it gives them the comfort they need and I leave it alone. My approach is really through this blog. I put the information out there, and the people that follow and read are the ones that will digest the information. If they disagree with my thoughts, well they usually let me know in a very impassioned response because they are emotionally attached to their ideas of the paranormal.
When a person has a personal experience, it is just that .... it is personal. It is not something that can be used as evidence, but the person on receiving end doesn't need it to be evidence. It something they feel deep down to their core was something special. I have had it happen to me on a few occasions. It is a feeling I cannot describe and as much as I have tried to explain the things that were happening, I could not. Sure I could have been hallucinating or a bunch of different things could have been caused it as well, but that thing deep inside my gut tells me it was something more. I don't want to explain it because it gives me that drive to keep going. I'm pretty honest in the fact that I don't know what is going on out there. I can tell you what I think might be going on, but it is just my opinion based on what has happened to me. It is personal to me. I think this is why people get so defensive about their belief in the paranormal. What they believe is happening out there is based on their own work and their own research. If they have been passionately investigating the paranormal for many years, of course they are going to have an emotional attachment to it because it is almost like their life's work. When you argue with someone about what a spirit is or isn't or certain phenomena, if something has happened to them that has made them form their view and you are challenging that view, to them it is almost like you are attacking their life work. You are not of course, it is healthy to ask questions and make people think but at a basic human level, people don't like their belief challenged. It makes them feel uncomfortable. I had an experience many years ago that I struggled with for weeks. It challenged my entire belief system and it did not sit well with me. I even thought about not continuing with my paranormal research because of it, that is how much it affected me. So in short, yes we are very emotionally attached to our experiences and that is what forms out beliefs. We know from the get go we in a way a bias before we even start an investigation whether we believe in the paranormal or are completely skeptical, we know we are going in with that bias.
When it comes to our belief systems and our bias, you will know from the many different topics I have covered in this blog on cognitive bias that the best way to combat this is to use critical thinking. But it also has me wondering, can this emotional attachment be used in our favour?
This is a question I think we really need to think about. The connection is there, so how can we use it to further our research and communication? We use a lot of elements of the Singapore Theory in an investigation - even if we are not purposely intending to. Every time we use a trigger object, play a music file or do some sort of re enactment, it is basically Singapore Theory 101. What if we look at it on an emotional level. Maybe it isn't an object, music file or re enactment that resonates with spirit during the Singapore Theory, maybe it is us! I always wonder if paranormal activity would occur if we were not there to either witness or experience it. Some people theorise that spirits use our energy to be able to communicate with us. It does seem like certain people have certain connections. Maybe this connection is on an energetic level. I often hear people say that a spirit may be attracted to traits of a person. Maybe they look like someone they knew. Maybe they are in a similar job. Maybe they have a nice nurturing vibe about them. Sometimes, there are just people that you want to be around.
We generally have the view as investigators that positive energy attracts positive energy and negative energy can attract negative energy. The laws of attraction. Quite often on a paranormal investigation we will have fun, be casual and create an environment full of fun, laughter and positivity. If one person is this way, it isn't long before it 'catches on' and everyone is in the same positive space. You are projecting positive energy. If we are trying to communicate, we don't use provocation in that particular instance, we use words of encouragement and in response IF it works, we have what we feel is positive interaction. In a lot of ways this would make sense if you are looking at the emotional side of things. If someone is scared, they project their fear. It isn't long before others start feeling the same and the energy of the room changes. Suddenly everyone is on edge. It is also in these instances that the smallest creak in a floorboard can set the whole group off. Knowing this information, you are setting the tone for your interactions. There is usually someone leading a vigil. It is up to them on the tone they set. If they were to start talking about an emotional topic. You can unknowingly bring the group down and make everyone feel sad. If you tell a story that makes people angry, again you are evoking that emotion. Use this to your advantage. Think about the location you are in and the area you are doing your vigil. How would someone have felt in this room. See if you can evoke that same emotion. You are almost using yourself as a trigger object. It is trying to get your emotions to connect with spirit on an emotional level. Will they communicate with us if they feel they can relate to the emotion we are projecting?
While being emotionally invested can work against us in a lot of ways, it could also be an important part. We are all pretty passionate about what we do. If we talk about energy, again on an energetic level maybe you can get a general sense of a person. You know when you meet someone and you just get a 'vibe' about them? There are people I have met for example who have been nice and there is nothing wrong with them, but for whatever reason I just don't get a good vibe or we just don't have any sort of chemistry. If a spirit is a person who was once living, then you could say the same could be possible with spirit communication. I am of the belief particularly when it comes to the paranormal that intent is so extremely important. People can sense if you are doing things for the right reasons and if you are genuine so maybe the spirit world does as well. Just don't let you emotional connections influence you too much to the point where you are creating stories out of nothing. Sometimes we want things so badly that we connect dots that are not there. Go in with an open mind and let things happen organically. If a location wants to speak to you, it will.
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