Do you ever go into a situation thinking that things will go badly, and then they actually do? How does that happen?
It’s likely because of a concept called a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction bound to become true as a result of behavior caused by its being expressed. Essentially, how you think determines your end result. If you believe that things won’t go well, they likely won’t go well.
It is not uncommon for some people to get into the habit of predicting the worst outcome for themselves. Some people may have internal arguments such as, “Why should I bother sharing my ideas with my boss; she thinks I’m incompetent anyway.” Or “Jenny seems to like Julie better than me. I’m sure they are going to become best friends and leave me out.” Because the person has now put energy into thinking and worrying about the dreaded outcome, the exact thing that he or she predicted does in fact, come true.
These people don’t necessarily have the ability to predict the future. Rather, their negative thinking subconsciously dictates their behavior. A person who is fearful of speaking up allows others to talk over him or her, or holds back on ideas – leaving others wondering if he or she has what it takes to succeed. A person who’s fearful of being left out by friends actually distances himself or herself, thinking that others don’t want to be around him or her anymore. The behaviors are driven by emotions rather than fact. This can become an unhealthy habit, an endless cycle of negative thought that leads to negative predicted outcomes.
So how can you stop this vicious cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies? Here are some tips to help you break the habit:
1. Be mindful of how you are listening to your own self-defeating thoughts: When self-deprecating thoughts pop into your mind, how do you respond? You might currently be accepting them as true and then becoming fixated on such negative ideas. Instead, recognize your thoughts and allow them to pass. Don’t hang on to negative thoughts; give them space to come in, and then out of your mind.
2. Be aware of how thoughts dictate actions: Your thoughts and your mindset are very powerful. The way you think influences the way you act, and the way you act influences the way people respond to you. If you go into a situation expecting a negative outcome, it is likely to happen. Have hope that everything will work out.
3. Think positively and have an open mind: Maintain a positive mindset and have confidence when approaching any situation. Keep your mind open to all possibilities and nice surprises. Tell yourself that something good may happen; changing your thoughts can change how you feel as well. By starting a situation out on the right foot, you increase the chances of things going well.
Don’t be stuck in an “I told you so” attitude. Increase your self-awareness and modify your mindset in order to free yourself from this cycle of negative outcomes and self-fulfilling prophecies. By not allowing negative thoughts to hold you hostage and by engaging in positive thinking, you can create your own POSITIVE self-fulfilling prophecy. You are the author of the next chapter in your life—so write a fulfilling one!