When you first join the paranormal field, it can be quite a bit daunting. There are a lot of people and a lot of big personalities. You may not feel like you belong. This is so far from the truth. It is a field where it doesn't matter what gender you are, what race you are or even what sexual orientation you are. We don't actually care. All we care about is your passion for the paranormal. We are all a bit weird, socially awkward and into strange things that people raise their eyebrows at. This is why when you join the community you do belong and so do your beliefs. The more you get out there, the more you start to meet people. It could be people you have spoken to online in paranormal discussions or maybe fellow regulars on your local tour. You then decide to either start doing things together, or you may even form your own paranormal group. You start a FaceBook page and get matching T Shirts and it is new and very exciting and actually addictive. Some teams like to assign roles to people because that is how they want the team to run. There is usually a tech person, a medium, a researcher/historian, a skeptic and some investigators.
There is no point taking on the position of tech specialist if you are a sensitive person and don't want to use tech. If you want to explore and use your abilities, don't let someone push you into a corner with a K2 meter for the night and investigate it the way they want it done. Find a balance. Being in a group is about compromise and it is important that each member of the group is represented. It may mean some compromising on your behalf which could be as simple as "OK for the next hour I will use equipment and then I am going to see what I can pick up using my ability". You are respecting what someone else wants to do, but also making sure that you get to do what you want as well. If you are a skeptic and your group wants to portray themselves publicly as spiritualists, does this represent you and your beliefs? If you don't believe in ORBS for example yet your group is posting up pictures of them advertising it as compelling evidence of the paranormal, is this what you want to represent you? Are your beliefs being recognised or are they being put down and disregarded? Are people around you conducting themselves in a way that you don't agree with? Does this reflect back on you? There is a lot to be considered.
I am not at all saying that you can't have different beliefs within a group. You absolutely can and most groups work this way. There is a mutual respect there. It is someone saying "I don't necessarily agree with your belief or your method, but I respect that you are looking for the same things that I am ...... just in a different way. Let's work together with our different beliefs and approaches to see what we can find together".
This is the attitude that should be used all the time - especially when talking on social media. It is so easy to get into fights with people because you are all trying to prove a point. What point is it exactly that you are trying to prove? Your point because it is what you believe. Who is right and who is wrong when you are both standing up for your beliefs? You will both feel that you are right because it is your belief and ultimately no one is going to win that argument because the people involved are sticking to their beliefs, just as you are sticking to yours. While this is great that you are both owning your beliefs, you aren't respecting the other person, or you wouldn't be arguing. It should be a case of "this is my opinion and this is why". It should then be a case of "We can agree to disagree but thankyou for putting forward your opinion, I will take it on board". Don't just say it. Think about what they have said. Maybe they actually have some valid points.
Once you have been in the field for quite some time, you may see or notice people that are well respected and well known within the field. You may feel that to get into their good graces, that you have to believe the same things that they do or just agree with them. This is not how you win them over. They don't want you to agree with them. They want you to think for yourself and present your arguments. They want to be challenged. There are some within the field, that feel like they are experts and know everything. It is impossible. It is a good gauge on a person on how they handle those who believe differently. Are they open minded to other opinions or are they arrogant and it is their way or the highway? There are certainly people with a lot more experience than others in the field, but they still don't know everything. They can't. How can you know everything about the unknown? When people talk about the paranormal, they talk with confidence. It is based on their experiences and their beliefs. While it may come across as fact, they don't know this information for sure. It is what they believe and the conclusions they have drawn from their own experiences. They are owning it and you are seeing and experiencing their passion. Don't confuse confidence for expertise. But at least they are owning it.
Discussion within the field is essential. Instead of putting your wall up and not being open to someone else's belief, give them the respect that they deserve and hear them out, just as you expect them to hear you out. Maybe they have put forward some valid points that will get you thinking or challenge you to really look at your beliefs. This is where people get defensive. They don't like to have their beliefs challenged because it is who we are. Not agreeing with a belief can make them feel like you don't like them or that you can't co exist. It they cannot respect your opinion and your beliefs, they are probably not someone you really want to associate with.
If we don't have our belief system, then what do we have? Own your beliefs and stand up for yourself, but make sure you are giving respect to others who think or feel differently about things than you do. This is how you will get their admiration and respect in the field. It doesn't come through arguments or posting evidence on FaceBook. It comes from how you present yourself as a person and how you treat the people around you. It comes from working hard and showing your passion. You should be in a supportive environment where people want to see you shine and they uplift and motivate you and you do the same for them. Sometimes the better option for you may be to go solo. If you asked me a few years ago, I never would have thought that I could be an independent investigator as I was always of the opinion you had to be in a team. I admit it, I was wrong. In reality, it was the right decision for me because I have my own things that I need to do for myself in my quest. Over time I realised it was what fitted me best. Working in a team served me well for a period of time and I enjoyed it, but what once worked in the past may not fit as you evolve and grow and that is OK! It is different for everyone. Being an independent investigator doesn't mean that you can't work with anyone. You can work with anyone that you want to. If you carry yourself right, there is no reason why you can't ask a local group if you can attend an investigation with them. You can book onto your local tour or you can just get a group of friends together and go somewhere to investigate. You don't have to do the official paranormal group thing with matching T Shirts and social media pages. It is perfect for some people but not for everyone. It is what fits for you. It is OK to change your mind along the way because we adapt as individuals and grow.
Your beliefs may change over time. I used to be very spiritual and now I am somewhat a lot more critical because of what I have learnt through my research. I have been told I can be a bit confrontational with my information because I am straight to the point with no embellishment. Those who know me in real life know that is me and how I have always been. It can offend people but it is certainly not my attention, it is me presenting information. If I wrote in a different way about different topics in the paranormal that I don't agree with but are popular, I could easily double or even triple my following. But I wouldn't be being true to myself and who I am and what I believe in. I may write an article and someone may not agree with what I have written. Excellent. Don't be scared to present your point of view. I encourage it. I am merely presenting you with my opinion based on my belief and experiences and research. Am I right? Who the hell knows, but it is what I believe and that is what matters to me. I am always happy to be proven wrong and in fact there have been times where my viewpoint has changed from a constructive discussion with peers that have caused me to look at a topic from a new perspective. I have been through 2 paranormal groups before making the decision to go solo. It was a all a part of my journey and I have no regrets, I have learn a lot of lessons along the way, and also learnt a lot about myself. The most important thing that I learnt was that I had to be true to myself and what I want to do and what I believe in.
Something I am noticing more and more is that people often 'reinvent' themselves in the paranormal field. While it can be as simple as a change of beliefs (we have all been there), sometimes it is almost like they are taking on a new persona to try and fit in with a certain category. They start changing how they dress, the phrases they use and even the way they handle themselves. I know a lot of people in the paranormal seem to gravitate toward black. Hey most of my wardrobe is black but it was before I got involved in the field. The thing is though, if you don't like black, you don't have to wear it! If you don't want start watching horror movies because it isn't your thing, don't feel like you have to. If you don't like heavy metal, you don't have to listen to it. We want you to be authentic and we want you to be you and to act like the person you really are. If you are changing things up because your journey in the paranormal is changing, we are right there next to you supporting you. Don't feel that you have to pretend to be something that you aren't just to get ahead or get noticed. You don't. People will gravitate to you because of the person that you are, not who you pretend to be.
For all intents and purposes, this is hobby. A very expensive hobby that takes you away from your family and makes your social life non existent. It is a price that we are willing to pay, so make sure that you really enjoy it and that when you are out there, you are treating people with respect and that they are treating you the same way. If this is not the case, it may be time to review your situation or the people you are working with. As we know better than anyone, life is too short!
To thine own self be true.
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