FEARS AND PHOBIAS
Where do your fears and phobias come from? Fear of such things as spiders, snakes, and heights seem to be built into the human psyche as part of our evolved survival instinct.
Many people suffer from phobias that are completely irrational, however. Fear of water, of birds, of numbers, of mirrors, of plants, of specific colors... the list goes on and on. People suffer from all kinds of bizarre phobias.
While several years on a psychologist's couch might get to the root of those odd fears, those who believe in past lives wonder if they are carried over from a previous lifetime. Does a fear of water indicate a previous death by drowning? Could a fear of the color red suggest, for example, that a person was struck or killed by a red streetcar?
AFFINITY FOR FOREIGN CULTURE
You probably know a person who was born and raised in the United States but is an ardent anglophile - a person who is interested to the point of obsession with British culture. You might also know someone who can think of little else but getting dressed up and acting the part for the next Renaissance Fair or Civil War reenactment.
There are "philes" for virtually every culture on the planet, both modern and ancient, affecting people who seem to have no rationale for their obsessions. Why? Are they merely trying to find familiarity in a culture in which they lived 100 years ago? 1,000 years ago?
Here is a related subject. It's good to have things that we are passionate about, as long as they do not become obsessive and debilitating. But from where do passions arise for books, art, antiques, fashion, gardening, theatre, cars, trains, aircraft, the paranormal - or any number of other subjects?
Intense interest in a specific subject might be totally natural, of course, but might there be a past life connection in some cases?
The dark side of passions are those uncontrolled habits and obsessions that take over people's lives and can even marginalize them in society. Obsessive-compulsives and hoarders fit into this category. A man who has to turn the light switch off and on ten times before he leaves a room; a woman who collects newspapers into six-foot-high stacks throughout her house because she cannot bear to get rid of them.
Each of us has at least one bad habit, from fingernail biting to gossiping to procrastination. The extreme forms include addictions to everything from television to Facebook to drugs. Again, psychological explanations can be found for these uncontrolled habits, yet those who believe in reincarnation say they might have roots in past lives.
Do you have aches and pains that the doctors cannot quite pinpoint or find a medical explanation for? You might be labeled a hypochondriac - a person who imagines his or her ailments. Or, as past life proponents suggest, those mysterious pains, sores, cramps, and more could be reflections of suffering you endured in a previous existence.
Birthmarks have been touted as evidence for reincarnation. In one fascinating case, an Indian boy claimed to remember the life of a man named Maha Ram, who was killed with a shotgun fired at close range. This boy had an array of birthmarks in the center of his chest that looked like they could possibly correspond to a shotgun blast. So the story was checked out. Indeed, there was a man named Maha Ram who was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest. An autopsy report recorded the man's chest wounds -- which corresponded directly with the boy's birthmarks.
In a similar way, various other physical traits - even deformities - have been suggested as having their precedent in a person's former life.
As I've noted, there certainly are or could be medical, psychological, or societal explanations for each of the phenomena above, and your experience with any of them does not necessarily mean that they can be attributed to a past life. After all, although there is some compelling case evidence for reincarnation and past lives, it is not a proved fact. Yet, this site is about alternate possibilities, and the notion that we have lived before and will live again is one that holds a great deal of fascination.