Ghosts / Gatekeepers

Ghosts and Gatekeepers is my own shorthand for a way of working with introjects.  You could call it ‘exorcising ghosts’ or ‘meeting gatekeepers’. Essentially it is about supporting you in expelling ‘shoulds’, ‘shouldn’ts’ and other negative judgmental messages that may have become part of your habitual way of living.

Patterns of experience of particular people or types of people may result in self-limitation, being stuck with certain negative expectations. These messages often start with shoulds and shouldnts.

So,  ‘I shouldn’t  …blow my own trumpet’, ‘…spend money on myself’, ‘…apologise to anyone’… or ‘I should… work harder’,  ‘… be perfect’, ‘… be like those other people.’

These patterns also pop up when an internal voice, which sounds like your own, says, ‘oh, you are useless, you’ll never be good enough!’ or, ‘no-one is going to like you!’ or, ‘what makes you think that you could…?’ or, ‘you are a bad person.’

These old messages, (introjects is the Gestalt word) relate to stuff we have, in some manner, swallowed whole without tasting. Worse, we are sometimes forcefed and/or learn to forcefeed ourselves.

More constructive experience of life will often involve tasting, chewing on (I’ll have to chew that over)… swallowing what we want, spitting out what tastes bad.

Our introjected ‘ghosts’ often carry the faces and attitudes of parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues, bosses, friends etcetera. When we look to imaginally interact with that ‘person’ in a session, to ‘exorcise’ them, what we are most importantly getting out of our system is some interruptive or stuck experience of that person. 

This is not the same as the real person but it has an important impact on our expectations, which may otherwise be coloured by the old ‘ghost’ of our previous experiences and relationships.

The most important ‘reality’ of our exploration is that of our experience of this ‘ghost’ that we have internalised and made our own. This enables us to alter our expectation and attitude by altering our inner relationship, our inner pattern. We can so loosen the tie to a fixed pattern which prevents us from relating appropriately in the here and now.

Sometimes one experience of one person can stand for a pattern of experiences of different people. A stand out experience, or set of experiences, around our relation to one person, can provide a way through to a new level of self empowerment and self acceptance. This fact leads me to sometimes think of this slightly differently. Sometimes ‘exorcising ghosts’ can be  ‘addressing gatekeepers’ . And in addressing gatekeepers it is sometimes possible to find new, more helpful gatekeepers… who may assist us, or provide us with appropriate challenge, in passing through a gateway to experience.