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Why Do Bad Things Tend to Happen All at Once?

Short answer: They don’t

Post Malone recently endured an insatiable streak of bad luck that began when his private plane was forced to make an emergency landing after blowing two tires during takeoff. His misfortunate reared its ugly head once again just two weeks later, when he was involved in a serious car crash that resulted in the complete destruction of his $320,000 Rolls-Royce. Then, only three days later, armed robbers came looking for Malone at his old home and proceeded to go on a stealing spree (after pistol whipping one of the current residents, who is also, apparently, very unlucky).

But while Malone has been almost comically unlucky — his life was basically a Final Destination movie for a while there — I think we can all relate to the idea that bad things seem to happen all at once. There’s even the old cliché to express this exact sentiment: “When it rains, it pours.”

But do bad things actually happen en masse?

“When one bad thing happens unexpectedly, it’s a shock,” psychologist and psychotherapist Jeanette Raymond explains. “We can’t let it happen again and catch us off guard, so our survival mechanism kicks in and makes us hypervigilant. We turn on the lens of suspicion and cynicism, while turning down the volume of good stuff, so it feels like the bad stuff comes in spades.”

“We aren’t focused on the good or regular stuff, because we got burned,” Raymond continues. “So expecting bad makes you see bad and label things as bad, because it dysregulates your emotional state. But it fits the lens of things happening to you, and that makes you feel good. Why? Because you correctly predicted that it would happen. Once you feel that you’re in charge and can predict and prepare for the bad stuff, you eventually let go and start focusing on all the good stuff, letting the bad [once again] take its proper place in the scheme of things.”

In other words, the mechanisms behind a streak of bad luck are similar to those behind a hot streak, which we’ve written about before:

“Basically, success breeds confidence, which breeds future success. Not to mention, confidence, in and of itself, is attractive. Case in point: Research on mate selection finds that for straight women, a sense of self-assuredness is one of the most attractive characteristics a man can possess, according to Gad Saad, a behavioral science professor at Concordia University in Montreal.”

In the same way, bad things seem to happen more often when you’re confident that they will inevitably happen.

Ending on a more positive note, some good did come from Malone’s unfortunate streak: One day after totalling his Rolls-Royce, he bought himself an even better one. So there’s that…