Challenging Superstitions

When should you be concerned about superstitious behaviours?

What Are Superstitions?

Superstitions are a belief in something that’s supernatural or magical. Most superstitions have their roots in long-ago religious beliefs. They derive from old wives’ tales, folklore and cultural practices from our ancestors. Let’s have a look at some of the most common superstitions:

  • Breaking A Mirror = Bad Luck

You can probably thank the Romans for this one. In ancient times, looking into a mirror was a way to look into your future. So, if the glass was broken this meant you would have a distorted future: AKA, bad luck.

  • Black Cats

Black cats are often considered to be unlucky because they were once associated with evil forces, such as witches. However, in some cultures, black cats are actually considered to be lucky omens!

  • Walking Under A Ladder

How many times have you avoided walking under a ladder? Everyone knows it’s bad luck (not to mention a bit unsafe) to walk under someone’s ladder, but why? Well, it’s believed this thinking stems back to Egyptian times. The Egyptians regarded triangle shapes as sacred (this is the shape of the space made by a ladder leaning against a wall) and so it was considered to be very unlucky to enter this space. 

  • Opening An Umbrella Indoors

This could be another one that stems from Egyptian beliefs who thought opening an umbrella or parasol indoors would anger Ra, the sun god. Or it could be good ol’ common sense – it’s pretty risky to throw open a brolly in a small space indoors where you could poke someone’s eye with a rogue spoke…

When Superstitions Are A Problem

These all seem pretty harmless, right? In fact, you’ve probably knocked on wood or crossed the road to avoid a black cat crossing your path more than once in your life. Superstitions play a part in our lives and for most of us, they go unquestioned and unnoticed because they have no negative impact on our day-to-day lives.

But what if your superstitious behaviours are affecting your mental health? Most superstitions are perfectly harmless but for some people, they can become an issue. Superstitions can become fixations in people with OCD and this can trigger anxious thoughts and behaviours. People who suffer from anxiety can also find superstitions triggering.

Challenging Superstitions

It’s healthy to challenge superstitions from time to time to help you see superstition for what it really is. Nothing bad will happen if you pet that black cat (unless it’s a particularly unfriendly cat, that is) or if you forget to knock on wood after making a positive statement. Challenging superstitions helps to lessen their importance and reminds you that they’re nothing more than fun, harmless beliefs from long, long ago.

Getting More Help

If superstitions are stopping you from living your life the way you want to or it makes you avoid certain situations, this is a sign that you need help. Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling or reach out to talk to a trained counsellor at Childline on 0800 11 11.


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