Recently, a colleague who studied Psychology at university told me this tale. During class one day, the tutor asked the students to raise their hand if they considered themselves to be superstitious. Only a few raised their hand. He then asked the class to think of the person that they loved most in the world and on a piece of paper to write ‘X is going to die in a horrific accident’. Not one person in the class could do it. Would you be able to do it? I know I wouldn’t, but then I admit to being a little bit superstitious so that’s ok.
What sort of powerful beings do we think we are that we could cause something terrible to happen just by writing it down on a piece of paper? For most of us, logic tells us that there is no way that writing something like that down would cause it to happen, but we have that little “Just in case” voice in our head. We daren’t even entertain such thoughts in case it triggers something to happen, let alone commit it to paper. In actual fact I’m even feeling a bit uneasy just writing about this issue. How silly is that? I’m already thinking about what little ritual I could perform to undo any possible bad luck I might have created by writing about horrible things happening to loved ones. I think I’ll hop round a one-eyed cat three times whilst reciting the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, backwards. That should do it. Just in case.
As I mentioned, I’m a little bit superstitious, and I shall now reveal my funny little ways. Feel free to join me by sharing yours. I know you have some, even if it’s just the wearing of lucky pants now and again.
1) I consider the number 3 to be lucky, and 9 even luckier because it is 3 times 3. So if I am willing something to happen or not happen I may tap something 3 or 9 times, or repeat a few words 3 or 9 times in my head. Or if for instance I had some chocolates or something, I could eat just one, but if I ate 2 then I would have to eat a third.
2) If I’m walking down the street with someone, I don’t like it if we both go either side of a lamp post or tree or whatever because I feel like we’ll end up in two different worlds, and I will even backtrack a bit to go back around the other way with them if it accidentally happens. I have other similar thoughts about entering different worlds in shops if I don’t go out the same way I came in.
3) I don’t like things to be over the edge of tables or desks, if objects are even slightly over the edge I have to push them back on, and they need to be parallel to the edge of the desk or table.
I may have more than that, but I will leave it at three because if I think of a fourth then I would have to go right up to nine, and I really don’t think I have nine. Just to clarify, those three things I mentioned aren’t carried out in any OCD kind of way. I’m not obsessive about doing these things, and if I’m not able to do them for whatever reason, e.g. if there are others around and it would be embarrassing, or if there just isn’t time, then my slight uneasy feeling of bad luck soon passes.
What I have noticed is that I am much more prone to want to do these little things at times of stress or upset, so I assume they are related to control – when I feel like certain things in my life are out of my control, I try and regain some control through these little rituals. I know it makes no sense, and if you ask me whether I genuinely believe that doing these things can create luck or undo bad luck I would have to say no, and yet at the time it satisfies a little niggling feeling inside for me.
I’m going to cross my fingers now and hope that others speak of similar things to reassure me that I am not alone in my funny little ways…