With today being Halloween, I thought this would be a timely post to share with you. Last year around this time, I shared a post outlining the reasons to stop reading your horoscope. And I feel the idea of believing in superstitions and being superstitious is similar in nature regarding why we look to any of these forms of supposed “information”.
Superstitions, much like horoscopes lack sound, scientific evidence, yet still bring comfort to so many. Why is that?
As humans, we crave knowledge. And what I mean by knowledge in this case is needing to know how or if things will work out, needing to believe we have some control over situations that clearly we have no control over whatsoever. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a horrific disaster, an accident, or any type of incident that doesn’t go according to plan, we want to believe we can do something next time that will stop it from happening again. We want to believe we can do something to prevent anything bad from happening to us.
So when we come to the end of the rope, so to speak, and realize there is nothing else we can do ourselves (determine the outcome of a game as a fan, determine the ability of our opponents in sports if we’re about to step foot on the playing field, protect ourselves from unforeseen disasters, etc.) some of us look to superstitions. Whether you place a lucky coin in your shoe before each tennis match, follow certain handshakes with certain people before sitting down to watch your favorite team play, refuse to see your betrothed before the wedding or simply knock on wood after uttering something unspeakable, in engaging in such actions/behaviors you are trying to ease your mind that indeed you do have control over the situation.
Those who believe and practice superstitious behaviors may say that such rituals work. In fact, I can remember in high school, while on my varsity basketball team, we had at least three or four things we would do as a team prior to stepping on the court – and if we forgot any of them, we would backtrack making sure we indeed did them. Based on how successful our season turned out, some may argue such behavior worked, when it fact, it was really the power of the mind being put at ease so that we could go out on the floor and do what we already knew how to do.
You see, when we feel we don’t have control, many of us often become more anxious. And when we become more anxious, we become tense, we don’t act naturally and we over-think responses that would have typically occurred out of habit (a simple free-throw shot, anticipating a rebound, etc), but instead are thrown off because of unnecessary contemplation and apprehension.
By choosing to practice superstitious activities, we actually are putting the mind at ease, thus reducing our tension, which then allows us to do what we would do naturally without agitation. In other words, superstitions are actually a tool that allows us to pretend we have more control than we actually we do.
So, stop giving the credit for good outcomes to a warrantless cause. Instead, pat yourself on the back and reap the rewards and credit you have rightfully earned.