Superstition is an irrational belief arising from fear of the unknown. Too many are controlled by it: We unconsciously avoid walking under ladders and over cracks. Some have logical explanations, though. Take the black cat obsession. Often when a person passed away from a fever, a cat would be seen perched on their chest or staring into their face, giving cats the bad rap that they suck the life from your body. In truth, cats have an odd fascination for staring at the human face and like to seek out sources of warmth. There are superstitions like these for all aspects of our lives, including play, and most are irrational or downright ridiculous.
Did you bump into that little old lady trying to avoid a black cat? Or perhaps you were late for an important meeting because you were searching for that “special” bracelet you wore when you aced your exams. You do this because of what some term the “uncertainty hypothesis” where you try to control the outcome of an activity that is outside of your control. The less control you feel, the more likely you are to become superstitious.
Mirrors have inspired a wide range of superstitions. The Romans felt that life was renewed every seven years and that a reflection was their soul, hence the fear of shattering one. One’s soul could actually become trapped, it was believed, and that a departed soul may get lost on its way to eternity by wandering into a reflection. Many other ingrained superstitions revolve around weddings. “Jumping the broom” (getting married) stemmed from European Middle Ages and African folklore. Weddings are steeped in superstition: A new husband has to carry his wife over the threshold to avoid negative energy even as the bridesmaids are provided as a distraction from the bride, who is hiding behind a veil. We are still doing these rituals to this day.
How much of these irrational beliefs are indicative of mental health issues? It may not always be easy to recognize as a condition, and many people do not even talk about this topic because of the stigma associated with it. Is it superstitious thinking or is it really an anxiety disorder? Experts themselves are divided.
Is it time to let all these idiosyncratic quirks go? The best way to start overcoming your dependence on superstitious beliefs is to find out where/how they originated and even solving them with science. Stop confusing causation with coincidence. Just because two events happen one after the other does not mean that they are related. Too much emphasis on that kind of thinking can result in a consuming state of paranoia.
After all, these delusions do not really bring you any positive energy nor peace of mind. When making decisions, rely on common sense and sound reasoning as opposed to supposed signs from the realm of fantasy. For instance, discard that myth about ringing ears, which some firmly believe happens when someone is talking about you. If this were the case, celebrities would be in constant distress! Surround yourself with practical people who do not believe in superstitions. Create positive feelings without the help of any strange practices. At the end of the day, the need for control is the driving force behind most superstitions. So, stop attributing a successful outcome to some inanimate object or some peculiar ritual and start building self-confidence from that is real.