Today is Friday the Thirteenth, a day that for centuries has been surrounded by irrational beliefs and superstitions. Here are a few I discovered when I looked into the history of this day: *If a funeral procession passes you by on this day, you will be the next person to die.
*If you cut your hair on Friday the Thirteenth, you will experience bad luck.
*If you fly or set sail on a ship on this day, you are bound to have misfortune.
*Babies born on Friday the Thirteenth will have a life filled with bad luck.
*If you start a business on this day, it is destined to fail.
*The bad luck that can come from other superstitions, such as walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, and encountering a black cat, is magnified on Friday the 13th.
Fear of Friday the Thirteenth is known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, and according to the North Carolina Stress Management Center/Phobia Institute, millions of people experience mild to severe anxiety on this day. For most of us though, irrational beliefs surrounding this day are simply a harmless bit of fun and make for good humor amongst friends.
Turning now to wellness, the focus of this column, I want to share some thoughts about a different kind of irrational beliefs. These are the kind of irrational beliefs that I often hear about that are negatively affecting their I personal, relational, and/or spiritual wellness.
Here are some examples:
*Talking about conflict will only make things worse, so it's best to avoid ever bringing up issues that are difficult to talk about.
*If I let people know I am not perfect, they will see me as weak and unlovable.
*Everyone else’s life is perfect and much easier than mine.
*Avoiding conversations about a conflict will make it go away.
*I am experiencing misfortune in my life right now because God is punishing me.
*I always have to handle things on my own.
*I can engage in high-risk behavior because the chances of the bad consequences of doing so only happen to other people, not me.
Any one of these beliefs can negatively affect a person’s wellness. I find that often such beliefs operate in the background of a person’s mind, just beneath their conscious awareness. Like a computer virus though, these beliefs are not immediately visible, yet they inevitably compromise our functioning and well-being.
Friday the Thirteenth usually only occurs once or twice a year, and so even if we have irrational beliefs around this day, they are not likely to have too much of a real impact on our lives. If, however, we hold on to the other kind of irrational beliefs listed above, we will find that they affect us each and every day, whether we are aware of it or not.
The best way to free ourselves of these limiting beliefs is to first become aware of them, and then find a trusted person—whether a friend or professional—and bring the beliefs out in to open, talking about and examining them.
So let’s have fun talking about some of the irrational beliefs around Friday the Thirteenth. Let’s also use this day as an occasion to become aware of any irrational beliefs that are negatively affecting our well-being. When we do this, my very rational belief, and my experience, both personally and professionally, tells me that when we are able to bring these irrational beliefs into the light of day, they begin to loosen their power to limit us any further.