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Halloween Horror Nights and Life Lessons?

Halloween is here.

Last night some friends of mine and I headed over to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Our whole intention was to have fun and to help a friend of ours from England experience Halloween American style. Apparently haunted houses in Britain are  bit lackluster.

My friends enjoy the haunted house aspect of this event. I, on the other hand, just love to people watch and see the reactions of those who have never experienced the sheer spookiness. Fog is rolled out onto the streets of the park, lights are dimmed and spooky creatures jump out at you from all directions. It is awesome.

Well, while I was waiting for the boys to explore their latest exploration into terror, I overheard a conversation that at first amused me and then got me thinking.

A young lady was pretty much reaming her boyfriend. She was hysterical saying over and over that she had expected it to be more casual, as Halloween was not here yet. He, on the other hand, was playing the in bred role that all men play. He apologized profusely, although you could tell he had no idea why scary creatures at a Halloween based party was so terrible.

After indulging in a moment of sheer amusement at his predicament, it hit me what was really going on here. This was all about expectations.

My friends and I expected to have a great time. We expected to be scared and squeal like little girls. And we expected to have wonderful stories to share at the end over coffee, at the local diner, at three in the morning.

This poor girl went in with far different expectations. When the experience conflicted with her pre-conceived notion of what was to take place she freaked out.

This happens every day. Sometimes it is about something as innocuous as an event not going the way we wish and other times it is on the much grander scale of, “ what happened to my life?”

So the question is,” What to do about it?” As I see it, you can either allow it to suck you into an abyss of despair or you can simply change the perspective.

Here are some simple tips on how you can do this:

1) Change your physiology. In this example, this girl was hunched over, her body was tense and her voice tone was grating.

A simple way that she could have corrected this would have been to sit up straight and take a few deep breaths. Breathing in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth helps to slow down the adrenaline, while relaxing the body.

2) Change the tone. Usually there is a voice in our head playing and telling us to freak out. You can actually control that voice. I love to turn mine into a cartoon character’s voice. It is really hard to be down on yourself when the voice telling you that you are a loser sounds like Donald Duck.

3) Turn down the volume. If you are having mind chatter that is telling you not so pleasant things, you can simply imagine a volume dial in front of you. Imagine turning that dial all the way down.

4) Change the Picture. This girl had a picture that dark foggy roads with creatures jumping out at you had to be terrifying. She could have pictured it more as a game or challenge. She and her boyfriend could have played a game of ispy with these creatures. By changing the picture and the perspective they could have made a scary event a fun competition.

There are tons of things that you can do to take an event that conflicts with your expectations and make it into one that exceeds them. It just takes a bit of practice.

So that is how Halloween Horror Nights became a little life lesson to me. Hopefully you learned a few basic techniques to help shift your perspective. And the next time you are in a situation that you are not thrilled with, perhaps you can start by recognizing that it simply an experience that did not match your initial expectations. From there it is just a perspective shift away from turning the experience into one to your benefit.


Caterina Christakos is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.