What do you feel when I say black cats, breaking a mirror or the number thirteen? Do you deliberately avoid these things? Are you superstitious?
Superstitions are an inherent part of any culture that helps us avoid bad things and do what may be good for us. Although most of us realize that these myths and old wives’ tales are not true, yet we keep practicing superstitions.
“A superstition is a premature explanation that overstays its time.” – George Iles
And even if you’re not superstitious, I am pretty sure you still practice a few of these false beliefs every now and then. Have you ever said “bless you” when someone has sneezed? Then there it is. Our ancestors believed that whenever we sneeze, the devil tries to steal our soul and hence we pray to God to bless that person.
Although many of these beliefs sound really silly, some of them are fairly common across the world and most of us practice these superstitions without even realizing it.
What are superstitions
It refers to a belief in supernatural forces like omens, luck, divination, spirits, spells and curses and that it may affect our well being. These are irrational beliefs and practices that arise from the fear of the unknown, misunderstanding of causality & science and ignorance. It can also stem from a firm positive belief in magic, luck or fate.
“Superstition is the need to view the world in terms of simple cause and effect.” – Bernard Beckett
Superstitious people believe that which do not follow the laws of nature or science have the power to unpredictably influence our lives in both good and bad ways. These beliefs are a result of individual or communal beliefs and experiences. Hence, these are usually irrational and not based on scientific knowledge.
Why believe the unbelievable
Over 25% of adult Americans consider themselves as superstitious. Moreover, a whopping 70% of students in the U.S. rely on good luck charms to perform better academically. The interesting thing about these unreasonable beliefs is that even after knowing these are false and irrational, we still believe in them. But why? Do these beliefs fulfil a crucial psychological function?
Why do we believe in ghosts and monsters? Superstitions arise from the same trait that makes us believe in the supernatural. Whenever our mind is unable to find any logical explanation, it starts filling in the blanks by making things up. According to a research conducted in 2010, these illogical beliefs can often work as our confidence and performance improves when we believe in good luck charms.
“Superstitions are man’s way of trying to control things he has no control over.” – Sarah Addison Allen
Psychologists have studied the function of such beliefs and discovered that these stem from the presumption that there is a strong connection between non-related, co-occurring events. But these are not just an expression of our unsound cognition. They can often provide a number of benefits.
These beliefs and assumptions have a soothing effect on our mind as engaging in superstitious behaviours gives us a sense of control. It also reduces anxiety about the unknown.
Hence, your level of being superstitious may vary based on how stressed you are about a certain situation. According to an article published in the International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, such irrational beliefs have evolved to give us “a false sense of having control over outer conditions” and to reduce stress and anxiety. Hence, these are mostly “prevalent in conditions of absence of confidence, insecurity, fear, and threat.”
Perhaps this is the reason why these myths, beliefs and old wives’ tales have survived for ages and have been passed down from generation to generation.
Creepy superstitions you practice without even knowing
Are you superstitious? Even if you’re not, there are several common superstitions you practice that you may not even realize. Here are some of the most popular ones that you need to check out:
1. Originally, the practice of covering our mouths while yawning started because our ancestors believed the devil could sneak and steal our souls if we did not.
2. The practice of blowing out candles on your birthday originated from an old tradition where our ancestors paid respect to the Greek goddess Artemis. This is considered to be an auspicious practice.