The Power We Give Away

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Recently I had a lengthy discussion with a group of people (strangers) that happened to be waiting with me for a Toastmaster’s meeting. The topic somehow managed to turn to “superstitions” and I stood there listening contently as it was a somewhat bizarre topic to come up amongst a bunch of strangers.


One person went on and on about the importance of having a proper “Mezuzah” at their door to protect a home (a mezuzah is a oblong box with a piece of paper in it with specific scriptures written on it) and the awful things which occurred to them when it was not “proper” and then how life changed for them after a clergyman “fixed” the problem. Apparently something was misspelled and that caused them all sorts of bad luck.


Another was originally from Cajon Country. This individual explained the importance of burning hair from your hairbrush and your nail clippings so that they could not be used against you in Voodoo, Witchcraft, and Santeria. They went on to say how important it was to do this or you’d be given a curse for bad luck.


A woman that had stood there with all of us quietly began to whisper about the importance of having someone with proper authority to come bless your home. She went on to say that her house “cried” (meaning it leaked a lot) when she first moved there and she had been convinced that a bad spirit had been there. After it was blessed things got better.


The rest of the group spoke about tossing salt over their shoulder, putting the right sock and shoe on first, Friday the 13th, and even the importance of having certain colors in your home. One said that they never move into a home without painting the front door. Another said that they never wear black to a wedding and on a certain level I agree with that as it is rarely a black-tie event which had nothing to do with bad luck.


What I found interesting about these people was the fact that they each gave so much power to superstitions. By giving a superstition power they then gave precedence to actions which may or may not have been related. I had stood there and not said a word and just listened. One of my biggest pastimes is observing people and I was observing a really odd group of people which represented many nationalities and cultures.


One of the group had realized that I had said nothing and then asked my opinion. I explained that I felt when someone “chooses” to believe a superstition, they then gave a tremendous amount of power over to that belief. Choosing a belief gives it power in your life. I think most people do not consider that is an actual action but it is—you either choose to believe or you don’t. I asked them to consider the power they had willingly given beliefs that are probably not good for them and asked if they realized that they have the freedom to change that.


I do not think they were prepared for my answer. Often people do not spend hardly any time at all considering the beliefs which may do them harm, yet they focus intently on the beliefs they hope to save them. It isn’t as if I were suggesting that they change their focus at all but to consider and actually actively decide what their other beliefs are.


I had a patient that could never make a left turn while driving. He would tell me at great length all the good reasons he had come up with to justify this problem. Sure he may save a little time not waiting at lights because most of the time turning right on red is permissible but what if he had an emergency that required him to turn left? While that example may seem silly and you find yourself saying “Well obviously this guy had issues” I ask you to stop and think about whether you have what some may consider an irrational belief. You’d be surprised how many do.


If a sports figure “believes” he must have his “special socks” in order to have a good game, how much power has he given a pair of socks? You may discover you are asking yourself what harm it could possibly be to give those lucky socks some power? On a certain level it should be considered how many “layers” of these beliefs you may have stacked up without realizing it.


If you think about what you “believe” about yourself it will give you some tremendous insight into why you struggle at times. It is shocking that people do not even consider examining those beliefs and do some house cleaning. Suppose you secretly suspect you will never be successful at something that very belief has a lot of power to become self-fulfilling prophesy. I myself believed most of my life that I was simply horrible at math, and so I was. Once I decided not to believe that I excelled in math.


By the way, the woman in her weeping house: I asked her what month it was when she had her house blessed and it was the first month of summer. I asked her if she had work done on her house during the summer to spruce things up and of course she said yes, in fact she had a new roof put on it. She had never correlated that those two things “fixed” her leaking house. Of course believing something is blessed cannot be harmful, but reality of the actual situation made her think.


I asked her to consider that it is the very nature of superstitions which seems to erode our faith. Because of that I feel strongly I have the authority to bless my home even more than someone else, as it is the superstitions of the home owner that gives power of a process that includes some clergyman, religious figure, or Voodoo doctor. I also asked her if she was aware that she had whispered when she originally spoke up and she was a bit taken back. She hadn’t realized she had whispered. That alone gave more power over her because it was almost an act of reverence.


While you may not think you carry around a bunch of superstitions and beliefs which may cause you harm, what harm could it be to possibly think about it? As humans we give so much power away to ill wishes, superstitions, and meaningless junk that we allow to help define ourselves. We are greater than a pair of lucky socks and we are not bound by a superstition unless we choose to be. I am urging you to consider the power you give away every day to something which is actually meaningless.

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