I was very young when I began “seeing ghosts.” My parents were concerned; at some points they thought I was lying, other times they were concerned enough to take me to a psychiatrist, and others they thought I was downright crazy, or making things up. I did not have parents who were similarly sensitive at my age, even if they did admit to having had paranormal experiences at some points in their lives. They always have been logical, sensible people. Despite this, I found ways to research and learn about the paranormal. At first it was simple things, like finding paranormal shows to watch online. I would go to the library simply to find books on ghosts, poltergeists, and true hauntings. I found a lot more than I had originally thought I would, and so with this wealth of new knowledge, I began to attack the “logical world.”
It’s not easy to be a young person in this day and age to begin with, what with bullying, social pressures, family pressures, and school. Adults often underestimate, and forget, what it is like to be young, especially in a society where your looks and accomplishments far outweigh your personality or quirks. The job market could care less whether you see ghosts, and sometimes, being so interested in the paranormal, or involved in it, can be dangerous for your career. It is difficult to comprehend even for an adult, so I felt it was necessary to put some information for the young sensitives out there so that they can find some relief.
You are not alone! Always remember that there are others like you out there, and often, they also feel alone. There are people like me who have put together online communities specifically to connect with other sensitives. It is a growing necessity to connect. Without confirmation that we are not alone, we often turn to psychiatric drugs, thinking we are crazy. But often, if you are taking those drugs and the things you see or hear have nothing to do with a mental disorder, your body can be negatively affected.
There is a program on A&E that you can certainly relate to. It might even help you eviscerate those doubts you have. It’s called “Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal.” In this series, seasoned psychics and sensitives help young sensitives deal with their gifts, manage them, and feel safer in their own skin. It’s a great show, and while a lot of it can be deemed by skeptics as entertainment, they are real people with real gifts. None of it is scripted. To be honest, having psychics work with the police force is admittedly still a novelty, but there is definitely truth to it… And the advice the seasoned sensitives give is really quite good.
This piece is meant to share some advice that I wish I had had at a younger age. When I was first discovering my paranormal ability, it terrified me. Waking up to a little girl sitting on your feet in your bed is not the most educational paranormal experience, especially if it’s officially your first. Rather, I had to rely on my own senses, and then on whatever media or research items I could find to confirm that it was indeed paranormal, and not some sort of strange early-onset schizophrenia. We are so conditioned as a society to quickly accept a psychiatric diagnosis that we scoff at the paranormal as craziness. Don’t believe everything you hear.
The reality is that we tend to overlook and explain away paranormal activity far too often. We watch the movies and laugh, thinking that it could never happen to us. But to kids who experience it, it is all too real. We are in need of a reality check when it comes to the paranormal. Nothing is impossible. I find it ridiculous that we dismiss our kids’ experiences, crediting them to overactive imaginations and tall-tales. Too many movies. Obsession-driven influence. The truth is, most kids only begin immersing themselves in the paranormal, or research it, when they begin seeing or hearing things that they cannot explain. And trust me, they try to explain it to themselves, often to no avail. I would rather make this sort of thing available then risk putting nasty chemicals in our kids’ systems, which usually only succeeds in making them physically ill (and it could possibly be fatal).
So here is a compilation of things I would tell young people about being sensitive to the paranormal. Please take some of it with a grain of salt, and remember that everyone is different.
No one in this world, perhaps short of your parents and your closest confidantes, know you better than you know yourself. If you have never been prone to seeing things before, then that is certainly something to consider. Think about the things you see on a regular basis. Have you ever seen or heard things that are technically not considered normal? Extra voices that are not yours or the voices of members of your family. You know your family. You know their habits and their voices. Take stock of what you know; timbre, pitch, all-over sound. You know the noises of your house, the furnace, air conditioning, settling noises at night. What is unusual here?
Sometimes, you detect things that are not spoken nor done. You get an overwhelming feeling that is definitely not your own. This is called empathic sense. It can make things hard to cope with, especially if you walk into a crowded room, with so many emotions buzzing around. Sometimes, though, your empathy only works with the dead. That, too, can be very difficult to deal with, as you are usually unsure of where the emotions are coming from and it can be scary!
The worst part is discussing it with your family. They may be worried for your mental health, or they think you are telling stories, or they just simply do not believe you. After all of their pattering about having you see a psychiatrist, you begin to believe the psychobabble, and think to yourself, “Maybe I am crazy, after all.” We set such boundaries in our society about what is normal and what is not. It is now time for you to decide what to believe. Do you believe yourself? If you have already been evaluated by a psychiatrist, and have nothing apparent wrong with you, then perhaps it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Educate yourself. That is what this entire article is geared toward.
Also, do you think you need a support group? Is this difficult to weather on your own? Does it bother you enough that you feel like you need serious assistance outside of what you can get in your home? Often, even family can become difficult to deal with when this topic is brought up by their children. Parents want their kids to be well-balanced and healthy, and because mainstream media sees the paranormal as fictional and often ridiculous, parents can see it as a problem or a mental health condition such as schizophrenia. It would be a good idea to go to a few different psychiatrists, if it’s possible, to have a few different professional opinions on your mental state. Sometimes it really is a mental health condition like schizophrenia; a lot of the time a psychiatrist can tell the difference between a sound-minded person and a schizophrenic person who has hallucinations. And a lot of them are very, very openminded!
Once you have that all sorted out, you can delve a little deeper into your own “paranormal condition.” Start keeping a diary of your experiences and spirit-encounters. Write everything down – how do you feel, what sort of vibes you got from the presence, did the spirit say anything, what did the spirit look like? Make sure you get as many details as you possibly can! I found that writing everything down helped me see the big picture in the long run. This is why I blog so much, actually. By writing things down, you can also work things out in different perspectives. You can compare notes from day to day. And sometimes you can solve mysteries.
The number one thing you will probably need more than anything, unless, of course, your family is chock-full of sensitives (rare these days), is education. Read everything you can, talk to kindred spirits, find online communities geared toward people of the same mindset or talents, and go to the library or bookstore to find more information. There are plenty of television shows that can give you information, but there are far more books on the subject. It’s wise to read a plethora of different types of books so that you have a good idea of the spectrum of paranormal activity and information as told by quite a few different perspectives.
As you continue to assess yourself, remember that sometimes your experiences can be shared with other sensitives with like talents. Finding others like you can be as simple as asking your friends; if you have a good support system, sometimes you can find far more than just accepting people: You can find people who actually share your interests and confusion. I’ve observed that more education stems from confusion than really anything. I’ve also found that it’s far better to embark on such a strange journey with people you trust. Do you have one special friend in particular who is supportive no matter what the issue? Trust that friend.
I’m sure you’ve realized by now that the majority of people you talk to on the street does not believe in any aspect of the paranormal. It sounds so ridiculous to some people that it actually makes them laugh. Remember to be kind about this; remember that what you see, feel, and hear is not experienced by everyone in the universe. Be objective about it, and don’t get offended when someone tells you they think your hobby or interest is crazy. Remember that there are plenty of others out there who can be supportive, even from afar; there are communities like Asylum’s Gate and The Average Sensitive which are geared specifically to the paranormal public. The ability to debate and be a skeptic is just fantastic because you can be understanding of the skeptic’s point of view. If you have things that bother you, blog about it, or talk to a group of friends who know you and your abilities.
Also remember that your abilities will grow with you; as long as you’re willing to take some time to know yourself and cultivate them, you’ll be able to help a lot of people. With growth comes a lot of real responsibilities; make sure to have a friend or a group of friends to back you up while you explore this side of yourself. You may need someone to push you back into yourself. Remember that it isn’t like the movies! NEVER channel without supervision (or at all, if you can help it; it can be very, very dangerous!!), and if you black out, EVER, if you find yourself losing chunks of time, PLEASE pull away and examine yourself, because that really means that you’re losing control of your talent, and someone or something is enjoying a free ride in your body. Always, always, always have emergency contact information on you just in case.
You won’t always encounter spirits everywhere you go; sometimes the silence itself is enough to make your head explode. But when you do, you are immediately at risk for attachments or spirit possessions. ALWAYS keep yourself protected. You know how people are always telling you to “use protection” in a very different (and adult) sense? This kind of protection often has to do with your faith. Don’t ever “let” any spirits come home with you or use you to speak, because often, you aren’t going to be able to easily rid yourself of the problem. Keep something blessed on you, or holy water, or pray when you encounter spirits. Rely on your senses and you’ll know when they’re around quicker. Never go unprotected!
It would be a very good idea to find a local paranormal group. Of course, you may not be able to properly investigate with them until you are older, but that is not the point. Having local experts available to talk to at any time gives you a bit of reassurance. This way you can have resources if you ever find yourself with an attachment issue, or if you simply have questions. This is something that I wish I could have done when I was younger. I never even thought of it as an option, given my family’s thoughts on the topic at the time. A paranormal group, whether based solely in research or solely in investigation, will often have a greater pool of resources to use if their knowledge is not enough to assist you. Keep a phone number handy, or keep in constant e-mail contact. Chances are, you’ll need their help at some point or another.
Another thing that most people overlook is their own instincts. Keep in tune with yours, as much as possible. Never second-guess yourself. You are the best resource when it comes to your own personal boundaries. Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something you know in your heart isn’t right morally, or isn’t within your personal boundaries. You control yourself, your abilities, and your comfort zone. If you don’t feel good about it, don’t do it, and don’t push it. Never let peer pressure get in the way of your instinct. Trust it, and learn to trust yourself.
You will need to be realistic about other things (other, of course, than the lack of belief in the paranormal in the mainstream), such as your social and personal obligations. Don’t neglect your homework, your professional schedule (if you have a job), or your family and friends. Don’t forget to get out there and explore the world. Even if you feel alienated because of your abilities, never neglect the people who love you the absolute most in the world! Take some time away from paranormal studies (and learn to hone your abilities in the ignoring department) by hanging out with your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.
Learning to deal with skeptics is one of those things that is incredibly difficult and often exasperating. The thing is, most people out there are hard skeptics; while I have advised you to have a healthy skepticism, these folks have no open mind. Yes, it’s going to make you mad, yes, you are going to want to throw something at them, but suppress the urge. Skeptics are a great part of the world; they help us keep balanced in an often bizarre world. Often, they don’t know how to help a person with paranormal abilities. You have probably encountered this already in a friend or family member. Be patient. Arguing isn’t a good idea. Just be respectful of their beliefs and their points of view, because often you can learn a good lesson from them by doing so. They may have a change of heart by speaking with you, and perhaps they will have their own experience to help them understand you and your abilities better. Often people will already have their preconceived notions about the paranormal, and it’s best to not try and change them; trust me when I say that more often than not, it doesn’t work!
Also, I find a large problem of mine comes from being far too immersed in the paranormal as a whole. Sometimes you need to step back. Often you’ll find that reading too much paranormal literature, watching too many paranormal shows, can give you “the paranormal syndrome.” In essence, “TPS,” as I like to call it, entails seeing things where there is NOTHING. You give yourself a bit of a paranoia. So it’s fine to study up on the paranormal, especially when it comes to the knowledge you need to understand your own abilities; just don’t get too deeply immersed in it, because you run the risk of over thinking things.
Another part of the “be realistic” spectrum is the media. This comes in two separate parts. Firstly, don’t expect your abilities to be so fascinating to some big-shot producer that you end up with a high-paying television series starring you. Most likely it isn’t going to happen. Sure, the paranormal is starting to hit television screens in many different veins – from debunking it to proving it to making it stop – but you should always remember that these abilities were given to you for several reasons. The abilities will make you stronger, if you let them; they will also guide you down the path of helping your fellow humans, if you choose that path as your own.
Secondly, remember that television shows are cut down to fit into a barely forty-minute window; no investigation lasts just half an hour with a barely ten-minute client meeting at the end. Often a full paranormal investigation goes anywhere from eight to twelve or fourteen hours, depending on the size of the location, the wishes of the homeowners, the number of investigators, and the amount of equipment to set up and use. You must also remember that for as much footage on photograph-cameras, audio equipment, and digital video cameras, you must review them carefully for any evidence that may have been captured. It takes a long time. Sometimes you have to do analysis. Sometimes you have to check a section of footage numerous times to debunk the possibility of the incident being paranormal. It takes a long time and a lot of patience. That, of course, is completely excluding paranormal abilities such as sensitivity, clairvoyance, empathy, and the like.
You must also remember that your abilities are certainly useful, but often the use of them is strictly avoided in the field of paranormal investigation. Investigators (and I am one of them, aside from the fact that I am a sensitive-empath) prefer to conduct investigations in an entirely professional and scientific manner, using video, audio, and other types of equipment to prove or disprove hauntings. Relying solely on paranormal abilities is frowned upon mainly because even if you are sensitive, it doesn’t mean you are always correct. Sensitives are like cell-phone towers – they relay experience, energy, and emotion, and often, the way you are feeling in a specific place doesn’t reflect that particular place – it reflects a neighboring building or piece of land. I have had this happen to me all too often, especially when I was in my teens and my sensitivity was stronger than I could handle at the time.
It’s a great thing to have the feelings you get from your sensitivity be corroborated with some piece of provable evidence, such as a property record, birth or death record (or both). Just remember that it won’t always happen, and you shouldn’t get discouraged. You will learn over time what subtle signals your abilities give you that says, “I know this is the truth.” There are many ways that you can deduce the truth from the situation, and some of them aren’t so evident as public records. I’ll be writing more on that particular subject; research can be tedious, but it can also be fun, and it’s a useful thing to do and a very good skill to have.
Of all the advice I can give you, the best is to simply take all the precautions you can and be safe. There is no need to rush into something dangerous and put yourself – and others – at risk. I may be reiterating some of the things I have said to this effect already, but bear with me; this stuff is important! NEVER go “ghost-hunting” alone, never go without someone who’s experienced in the paranormal field. Don’t antagonize spirits, don’t insult them, and always keep a high level of respect for the dead. If you feel like you cannot handle it, don’t do it. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of paranormal investigation, or the paranormal at large, then don’t be involved in it. It’s fine to try new things, but if you are afraid, go slowly. Don’t barge headlong into it and expect to be gratified, because sometimes that can be even more frightening. If you want to become comfortable with the paranormal, acclimate yourself gradually, and always have a trusted person handy; you will need to rant, rave, and pour your heart out to someone at some point during such a strange journey. Going into it alone – as I have said before – is not advisable. Just make sure that you have someone to help you out if things get too intense.
To close, let me just say that having paranormal abilities is not abnormal; it cannot be classified as crazy or mentally disturbed. The paranormal is a real and true thing, in its own little way. It is a very difficult thing to classify or quantify, which is why it will always be the unknown. I hope someday the scientific world can take it more seriously; until then, people like us, the sensitives and psychics, mediums, empaths and multi-conscious people, should strive to show the public that we are serious about proving these strange phenomena as a real part of the universe. I hope you will be among our number, readers, and I hope you will remember that you are a beautiful, significant, complex human being with extraordinary abilities.
The Average Sensitive
Aly Vanderboegh is the case manager for Omaha Paranormal Research and founder of The Average Sensitive, a paranormal web-site and blog serving as a connection point between people experiencing paranormal sensitivity and activity. She has also authored two novels and a series of paranormal topic pamphlets, published to the Kindle on Amazon.