What Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

When it comes to self-improvement and getting what you want from life, the message that you will find in most self-help guides is that it all starts with the way you think and how you visualise yourself achieving your concrete goals. Now generally this is something we can all agree on, and it only makes sense that the way we think will affect the way we act and ultimately the outcome of our lives, but what not everyone is aware of is just how powerful this connection is.

Enter the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ which demonstrates how simply believing something can make it true. I’m not talking in a Disney kind of way, but rather in a very real and tangible fashion. Believe that you’re successful and often you’ll end up successful, believe that you’re going to have a bad day and low and behold a bad day will be had. Here we’ll look at just how and why this works, and how we can use it to our advantage.

How Thought Influence Our Reality

While it might sound like magic to say that our beliefs can forge our reality, it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it (there’s an elaborate pun there but don’t worry about it). The point is that all of our actions are dictated by our thoughts and all the outcomes we face are as a result of our actions. By addressing our beliefs we essentially change what we are putting out into the world and this of course will alter what comes back to you.

Take for instance success which is an easy example to understand. Let’s say that you really believe you’re successful – suddenly you’re going to start walking much taller with your chest puffed out, you’ll speak much more confidently in business meetings and presentations and you’ll start dressing and looking the part. Suddenly people will sit up and take notice of you because you look and act like you’re successful, and this will make them believe that you’re more competent. Then, just like that, you will find people start to trust you more with important tasks and that they want to work with you or hire/promote you. Lo and behold, the simple fact that you believed you were successful meant that you became successful.

Likewise if someone is sure they’re going to have a bad day, then that too can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ve probably been on nights out with people like that – people who don’t really want to be there or who tried to get the whole group to do something else. These people become ‘energy leaches’ and sap all the joy out of everything. They won’t smile so no one talks to them, they won’t dance so they don’t forget their worries and they focus on all the negative things that happen meaning that they are guaranteed not to enjoy themselves. In such a scenario they’ve created that unpleasant evening as a result of their thought processes.

How to Work With Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Being aware of self-fulfilling prophecies however is all it takes to start using them effectively and avoiding their potentially negative implications, and by changing your beliefs to more positive ones you can start to affect real positive change in your life. For instance then you can try using ‘positive affirmations’ which are positive statements you repeat over and over until they become habitual. Saying things like ‘I am highly talented’ regularly will get you to the point where you think that without consciously trying to, and at that point you might start to believe it. More to the point if you can’t believe this, believe that you will be talented if you believe you will (that was a lot of ‘believes’ in one sentence… ). Likewise if you catch yourself saying ‘it’s going to be one of those days’ then mentally erase that statement and instead say ‘I’m determined to make the best of today’.

You should also think about the language you use when you’re talking to others and when you’re geeing yourself up. One thing that they often say to parents is never to say ‘don’t fall over’ – when you do that all you do is to draw attention to the fact that a child might fall over and this then causes them to trip. Instead say ‘be careful’ and you’ll have more positive results.

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