How to Stop Being Superstitious

Three Parts:Adjusting Your MindsetTaking ActionMaking It Stick

Have you become a slave to superstitions? Do you run to the other side of the street when you see a black cat? Do you cringe any time you accidentally step on a crack, or feel convinced that your day will be ruined because of it? Have you ever cracked a mirror, and felt devastated that your life was going to be horrible for the next seven years? If this sounds like you, then it's time to break those superstitious habits and to learn that you have the power to make your own luck.

Part 1
Adjusting Your Mindset

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    Learn the origins of the superstitions you believe in. One way to overcome your superstitious beliefs is to learn where they come from to begin with. For example, did you know that the belief that it’s bad luck to walk under a ladder came from the idea that it was dangerous to walk in an area where work tools are likely to fall? The more you debunk these superstitions, the more you’ll see that while they may be fun to believe in, they have no foundation in reality.[1] Here are some other surprising origins of common superstitions:
    • In 18th century London, umbrellas with metal spokes became popular, and opening them indoors became a hazard. Therefore, it became common knowledge that opening an umbrella indoors was considered “bad luck,” though this was really done to keep people safe![2]
    • The superstition that spilling salt was considered bad luck began in 3,500 B.C., with the ancient Sumerians. However, this came about because salt was such a prized commodity back then, not because spilling salt has any inherent power to influence your luck.[3]
    • Black cats were actually considered to be good luck among some cultures. The ancient Egyptians considered it good luck when a black cat crossed your path, and in the 17th century, King Charles even kept a black cat as a pet. Unfortunately, many people associated cats with witches during the Middle Ages and during the time of the Pilgrims, which makes some people think they are bad luck today.[4]
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    Realize that there’s no rational proof that these superstitions can affect your life. Is there any real reason that the number 13 should be unlucky? Why should black cats be more unlucky than any other cat? Can finding a four-leaf clover really cause good fortune to rain down upon your head? If a rabbit's foot were really lucky, wouldn't the original owner (that is, the rabbit) still own it? Though you may believe that thinking rationally is beside the point when it comes to superstitions, if you want to beat your obsession with them, then you have to use critical thinking to get there.[5]
    • Superstitions lie in age-old traditions. Like many traditions, they continue to be enacted, but they don’t really serve a purpose.
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    Consider which superstitions cause regular inconvenience to you. Are you constantly staring at the ground to avoid stepping on cracks to the point of bumping into people on the street? Do you take winding detours in order to avoid crossing the path of a black cat? The superstitions which cause trouble for you on a regular basis are the ones you should focus on first. Maybe you spent ten extra minutes walking to work because you think that you’re taking the “lucky” path. Maybe you run back home and are late for a dinner date to put on your “lucky” earrings. If you really think about it, you may find that your superstitious beliefs are actually causing you harm instead of bringing you luck.[6]
    • Ask yourself if the anxiety you associate with following different superstitions is really bringing you any good energy.
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    Avoid superstitious beliefs when making decisions. When making decisions, rely on common sense and a sound pattern of reasoning as opposed to weird feelings and supposed supernatural signs. If your friend asks you to meet her at a certain place, take the path that makes the most sense instead of the “lucky one.” When you walk to work, wear the clothing that is most appropriate for the weather instead of your “lucky” coat when it’s 80 degrees outside. Let reason govern your choices, not superstition.
    • Start small. First, if you spill some salt, don't throw it over your shoulder and see what happens. Then, you can build toward avoiding superstitions that scare you more, such as petting a black cat or walking under a ladder.
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    Realize that you have the power to make your own luck. While you can't control all the circumstances in your life, you can control how you react to them and what you do about it. This is far more important than being lucky or unlucky. Everyone deals with bad luck from time to time — some people more than others, unfortunately — and while you can’t control the less-than-ideal circumstances you may face, you do have power over trying to face them with a positive attitude, and of making a plan to improve your circumstances, instead of thinking superstitions or rituals can affect the outcome of your life.
    • It can be comfortable to believe in superstitions because this makes it harder for you to take control over your own life. If you accept that you have the power to make yourself succeed or fail, you’ll naturally be scared or hesitant to move forward.
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    Expect the best instead of the worst. Another thing you can do to get into the mindset that superstitious beliefs are irrelevant is to expect the best things to happen for you instead of only imagining the worst possible outcomes in any given situation. If you’re convinced that everything is going to go wrong for you, then you’ll be much more likely to experience a conflict or a setback. If you think that you’re going to have a great day, then it’s much more likely that it will happen for you, and you won’t need to follow any superstitions to get there.
    • Many people believe in superstitions because they think their lives are filled with bad luck everywhere they turn, and that they need to follow certain superstitions, like not whistling indoors, to ward off the bad luck. If you believe that there is goodness and love everywhere you turn, then you would not need superstitions to give your life meaning.

Part 2
Taking Action

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    Prove that these superstitions have no basis in reality. Leave your rabbit's foot at home and see how your day goes. Go ahead and step on a few cracks. Pass on by the clover patch. Incorporate the number 13 into your day (spend 13 dollars at the store, send 13 emails to your friends, edit 13 wikiHow articles, etc.) If this is too hard for you to do at once, work on proving just one superstition wrong at a time and see how far you go.
    • You can even adopt a black cat, if you’re really committed to breaking your superstitious habits. These lovable creatures are the least adopted kitties in the pound and are therefore euthanized the most. If you have your own lovable black kitty, you’ll see that he brings you nothing but good luck and that superstitions have no basis.
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    Wean yourself off of your superstitious beliefs — or go cold turkey. This depends on what works best for you. It may be challenging for you to decide that you’re going to completely break your superstitious beliefs in one day, though you can certainly try it. You can also decide to drop your superstitious habits one by one, to ease the pain. You can leave your lucky rabbit’s foot at home one week, and then, once you’ve gotten over that, you can go up to the thirteenth floor of a building, and so on.
    • You can keep building up to dropping the most challenging superstitious beliefs for you. It may take months to fully stop following these traditions, but you will be able to make it work.
    • You may find that it’ll take your mind a while to catch up with you. That is to say, you may drop the superstitious habits but you may find yourself still believing in their power. Give your mind time to catch up with your actions.
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    Be positive. Another way to stop being superstitious is to work on having a positive energy throughout your day. If you have a smile on your face and have hopes for the future, then you won’t be in search of rituals or superstitions that can make sure your day goes smoothly. You should know that you have the power to make good things happen instead of being a victim to rituals and actions with no foundations.
    • When you talk to people, talk about the things you’re excited about instead of complaining.
    • Write down 5 good things that happened to you at the end of each day.
    • Make a habit of being positive and your superstitious beliefs will feel superfluous.
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    Learn to ignore the urge to act on a superstitious belief. You may be watching your favorite sports team and may have the urge to cross your fingers, take three sips of your beer, or do whatever you think works to make your team win. Simply throw that nagging thought away and think about something else. After you’ve ignored the urge, take note of how little effect it had on the outcome of the situation. Talk it through with the person you’re sitting next to so you can have confirmation that you should ignore it.[7]
    • If you have to, just count to ten, or up to a hundred in your mind. Focus on something else as you wait for the urge to pass.
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    Know that a superstition only works because you believe in its inherent charm and power. Though a study proved that certain athletes, such as Ray Allen, who are incredibly superstitious about their pre-game rituals do actually perform better when they stick to their superstitions, this isn’t actually because of the rituals these people followed, but because of their belief in the power these rituals have to influence their performance. They may think they’re going to play a great game because they shot 37 free throws from the same place in a row, or because they’re wearing their lucky socks, when in fact, the belief that these things give them power is what makes them do well, not the actions themselves.[8]
    • This means that your lucky rabbit’s foot won’t have any effect on your test performance. It will, however, put you into a positive mindset that allows you to perform well on your test. You need to realize that your mind has the power to generate these positive feelings without the help of any superstitions.
    • The same goes for believing a superstition brings you bad luck. If you pass a black cat, you may get it into your head that you’re going to have a terrible day at school, and you’re thereby almost guaranteeing that this will happen.

Part 3
Making It Stick

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    Spend time with people who are not superstitious. It can also be a big help to hang out with people who have no superstitious beliefs whatsoever. Watch sports with people who don’t have the need to wear their lucky jersey for their team to win. Hang out with someone who lives on the 13th floor of a building. Walk with someone who steps on every crack in the sidewalk without even noticing. Getting used to the idea that other people can go about their daily lives without caring at all for superstitions can show you that it can be possible for you, too.
    • You can even pick their brains about how they’re able to go about their daily lives without worrying about cracked mirrors and the like. You may even learn some new strategies for stopping your own superstitious beliefs.
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    If you plan on sticking to cultural superstitions, make sure you know it’s only symbolic. Some cultures are full of superstitious rituals that make daily life possible. In Russian culture, for example, people believe that hugging in a doorway will cause people to fight, or that stepping over a person who is lying down will keep him from growing. While you may not be able to break these habits, you should make sure you know that you’re just doing them because of a cultural habit, not because they will actually have any effect on what happens. You can still do them, while knowing that they have no power at the same time.
    • If you participate in these rituals with other people of your culture, have a talk to them about how you’re trying to break your superstitious habits. They may be hurt or try to discourage you, at first, but they should understand.
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    Seek help if your superstitious beliefs are an indication of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). It’s one thing if you’re just terrified of black cats or have a few rituals that you can’t break. But if you feel like your life is governed by a series of rituals and that you can’t go about your daily life without following a very specific routine and panic if you have to do something unexpected, then your superstitious beliefs may actually indicate that you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. If this is the case, then you may not be able to stop being superstitious on your own, and your best bet may be to see a doctor to discuss the next steps in anxiety management.[9]
    • Don’t be ashamed of admitting that you have a real problem and that rituals have taken over your life. The sooner you get help, the better.


  • While walking under ladders isn't usually bad luck, you might end up with paint dripped on your head, or worse, a tool. Obey signs around outdoor work for practical safety reasons. If a hard hat zone is declared, a hard hat is needed from experience of dropping items!

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