Monday, July 11, 2016

Bad Superstitions

I never thought of myself as superstitious.

Friday the 13th?

Throw salt over your shoulder?

Black cats?

Nah, I don’t believe any of those. They’re silly.

But I’ve recently come to realize that my thinking is rife with superstitions – buried so deep, I didn’t even know I had them.

As this article points out, some superstitions can be positive, can even have a kind of placebo effect.

But mine tend to be negative.

For instance,

Under the theory that it’s the unexpected that will get you, I believe that if you think of all the bad things that can happen, then they won’t happen. My whole family operates under this belief. Does it keep bad things from happening? No. But it does make you miserable and afraid and exhausted. It’s the very definition of “hypervigiliance,” a symptom of anxiety that Pamela Cytrynbaum wrote about so devastatingly at Psychology Today.

If you are waiting for news that might be bad, don’t make plans for the future beyond that because you are tempting fate and it will slap you down. The problem with this one, besides that it is illogical, is that there is always potentially bad news around the corner, so you never make plans.

Related: Never be hopeful, don’t dare to talk about how things might go right, because, again, you are tempting fate. This is the “don’t jinx yourself” and “knock on wood” superstition.

Even writing this, saying that I see that these beliefs aren’t logical, is making me uneasy, to tell you the truth.

But’s it's crazy-making, this focus on the negative.

Are you really supposed to live your life on tenterhooks?

I don’t believe it. (Well, I’m working on that.)

How about you and your superstitions? Are they good or bad?


  1. My superstitions are more like magical thinking and obsessive compulsions. As Woody Allen put it: "What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet."