I am not a particularly religious person, though I guess I’d call myself an agnostic rather than an atheist. I mean, how can I really know what is awaiting me after my death? Having “faith” in a story is a bit hard for me sometimes, especially in cases where the story seems unlikely in many respects, and not definitively proven. I guess I have a more scientific way of looking at things, since science research often proves theories in ways that seem indisputable, or at least very logical in my point of view. But again, strange things happen sometimes that amaze, and ideas like the universe’s creation (or really many things) seem so beyond what my human brain can imagine.
I think a lot of people on earth, even those without strict faith in religion, or the like, are prone to doing superstitious acts of sorts, or keeping charms or other things for luck, or safety of sorts. This includes people, like me, who deep down know that their acts (or items) don’t really achieve their purposes. If the results are what we want, then it is just normal or coincidence.
I’ve never really kept or worn a talisman. I do have some items, though, that I treasure that help keep lost loved ones alive in my mind. When I look at photos of my mom, for example, I get the warm feeling that she’s with me. I know she isn’t physically. I don’t even know if she’s alive in spirit. But I do think of her being alive in me in a way beyond memory. Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and see something in my face that says “Mom”. Sometimes I’ll laugh and hear her, too, though know it’s not psychosis or a ghost. Not looking at her photo for a while does make me feel neglectful. In those cases, I try to give her more attention again, because I feel she deserves it and it’s good for me psychologically.
Growing up in the US, I heard stories like how various things are bad luck. Examples include black cats crossing the street, crows cawing, the number 13, umbrellas up in the house, and saying certain words (like “the lord’s name in vain” or wishing someone to die). I don’t really believe seeing or doing these things will hurt me, but since the ideas were ingrained in my head early on, there is usually a second or two when the thought hits me. I usually smile and don’t worry more about them.
There are other things I do (or don’t do) that do force a compulsive action from me. I think some serve primarily to ease my mind. I also do these things “just in case”, and admit that if I don’t do them the anxiety hits me a bit. Here are a couple of little examples:
- I keep my husband’s and my pill boxes in a larger pretty painted box on the dining room table. My morning box is at the top, my husband’s box is in the middle, and my evening box is at the bottom. Sounds logical? After all, that helps prevent me from grabbing the wrong box. But if the boxes are not in that order, or even worse, if one or more of the boxes are put in with the days of the week showing upside down, it really bothers me. It’s not an anxiety because of lack of “perfection”, but one because if they aren’t just right, I feel something bad might happen.
- For the last 20+ years, my husband continues to tease me about my obsession to put lids or caps back on jars (or other containers) immediately after use, and tightly to boot. It is a little compulsion of mine. I can’t identify a fear related to this, but not closing these things quickly eats at me. Unlike me, he (maybe as a Czech) doesn’t butter or spread jam on his entire slice of bread before eating it. Instead, he puts a little on. Eats it. And then a little more on. Eats, it. Etc. So if I close the jam jar or butter container in between, it gets to him.
- I’m not terribly afraid to fly, but confess to often saying the Hail Mary prayer before the plane takes off. I almost never pray. I guess I do so in this case, because I’ve always landed safely afterwards. Again it’s a “just in case” action.
- I will not leave the toilet seat in my bathroom open because I have this irrational fear that if an intruder came into my house, he/she would be inspired to throw my parrot there and flush him down.
- I’ll “knock on wood” after saying “I hope things stay this good”. I’ll even sometimes cross my fingers when hoping for a good result.
I do not have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive disorder) or OCD tendencies. I certainly wouldn’t come close to meeting that disorder’s criteria, and preventing myself from acting out a compulsion would not affect me too seriously. However, don’t many of us have at least minor obsessive and compulsive tendencies? I’ve got to say that if I discovered a pill box in the wrong direction (always hubby’s fault), my heart would start to race slightly and I’d quickly correct it. I wouldn’t, however, fear ramifications for it having been wrong.
Are you superstitious in any way? Do you carry some kind of lucky charm or talisman? Do you feel that real ramifications may occur if you do (or don’t do) something?