Secrets to the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

You definately are what you think.  Your thoughts and actions will influence your future.  We live in times in which uncertainty has become the norm but does it have to be?

The 20th-century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression “self-fulfilling prophecy” and formalizing its structure and consequences. In his book Social Theory and Social Structure, Merton defines self-fulfilling prophecy in the following terms: e.g. when Roxanna falsely believes her marriage will fail, her fears of such failure actually cause the marriage to fail.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.  (1)

If you think it, so it shall be.

From Shakespeare to The Secret, the idea that our thoughts and  perceptions shape our reality is recognized as a powerful truth.   As the Bard  wrote, “[T]here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Many of us grew up in dysfunctional homes in which we might have been told we weren’t going to amount to anything.  That we were “stupid”. “useless”, etc.  Some of us grew up surrounded by family members that were abusing alcohol or drugs.  Lacking a healthy level of confidence or self worth, we believed what others said about us.  Does this have to be a belief we allow to control us or influence our future?  No, it does not serve any purpose other than to oppress us and keep us frozen in the same spot.  To risk or try for many becomes too difficult.  I choose not to be the person that they predict that I will be.  One can defy the odds and all the negative comments.  I could expound on research studies that have been conducted on this topic but I prefer to tell you of my own experience and of others that have overcome adversity.

Self fulfilling prophecy applies equally to our own expectations of ourselves. If we believe that the situation will lead to failure we might not try hard enough and fulfill that prediction. On the other hand, if we expect ourselves to do well in certain tasks, we will often rise to the occasion.

This concept once again shows us the importance of self awareness. Being aware of our thoughts and attitudes towards certain people or situations allows us to examine the validity of those thoughts, and to adjust them appropriately to get the desired results. Mindfulness brings this unconscious mental habit into conscious awareness, thus providing an opportunity to change it.

In 2009, I embarked on an adventure which meant leaving my home and family to move to Vancouver Island.  My intention was to solidify a career utilizing my psychology degree and extensive work experience.   After several years trying to attain full-time employment in the helping professions and many interviews where I was told that I would be their 2nd choice, I knew I needed to change direction.  I wanted to try a new place; create an opportunity to succeed.   I kept my mind open to all the possibilities.  What I had in my favour was a place to stay and one job interview.  I did not see the obstacles, I saw the possibilities only. I did not allow any negative thoughts to enter my mind.  I did get the job I was interviewed for although part-time and on a casual basis I did succeed at what I set out to do.  I came home several months later as work began to slow down there but I still succeeded!  I did not fail at all.  Sometimes one has to move outside the box to succeed.

My adventure taught me many things about myself and life.  I was capable of working and living on my own, I enjoyed working at the company I was employed at and I felt strong, empowered and hopeful.  I could have gone the other way after so many job rejections and said they were right!  I won’t amount to anything or I will be a drunk like my Dad or whatever they said.  Frankly, I have learned to forget much of what they said..  And who are they to me anyway?  A friend of mine told me once ” Look at the character of the one who judges you, often they would benefit more by looking at themselves in a mirror.”

Another example is using positive thinking to control pain.  If I am angry or frustrated pain will manifest itself in my body in my most vulnerable spots.  My stomach will tighten and swell (IBS), my neck,shoulders and back will start to tense up and cause me discomfort.  Negative emotions/thoughts can be harmful to our bodies and minds.

Just because you were raised in a war zone does not mean one has to keep the war alive today.   I have a few friends that have seen some horrific things in their lives growing up in Africa or in war torn countries such as Bosnia and they are the most uplifting, kind and positive people I know.

Victor is better than victim!

Some tips to stay positive and focused in your life:

1.Let go of the old thinking patterns.  If you find you are doubting yourself immediately stop!  Tell yourself ” you can and will do it.”  Keep a notebook with some of the negative thoughts you are thinking and analyze where these thoughts originated.  This will allow you to review their origins and let them go once and for all.

2. Find seven or eight affirmations that you can repeat several times daily to keep you motivated.

3.  Associate with people that support your goals and dreams.

4. Eliminate exposure to people that have ridiculed you in the past.  One may have family or friends that are instilling those old negative patterns that will only make it harder for you to be the success you were meant to be.

 

REFERENCES:

1. Merton, Robert K (1968). Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press. pp. 477. ISBN 978-0-02-921130-4. OCLC 253949.

About me:  I have two degrees: one in Psychology and the other in Journalism. I am a free-lance writer, animal lover, poet, blogger and a part-time herbalist student who lives in Alberta, Canada.