Becoming who you see and believe – The self-fulfilling prophecy

Throughout our lives, there are moments where we may have felt we accurately predicted something would to happen to us. Whether that be you thought “I feel really confident going into this interview today” and you go in, nail it and get the job, or you thought “this workout is going to be painful” and well, it sucked. This thought/belief that turns into reality is known as the self-fulling prophecy.

What is the self-fulfilling prophecy? 

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a psychological concept which states the thoughts and beliefs we have influence the way we act. That thought embeds into your unconscious, which leads you to act the way you believe. For example, a good attitude towards your work will lead you to put more effort into your tasks and meeting your deadlines. However, if you are feeling incompetent, you are more likely to push things aside and not put the effort in.

How can it affect us and our performance? 

When we develop a negative mindset, we often end up self-sabotaging ourselves. This is regardless of whether it is intentional or unintentional. In regard to the self-fulfilling prophecy, this generally occurs unconsciously. This can inhibit our ability to be aware of what went wrong and learn from it. This can lead to making the same mistakes and stunting our progression in life.

What types of self-fulfilling prophecy are there? 

To further understand the self-fulfilling prophecy and its effect on our road to success, we need to explore the types. The first type is known as the “self-imposed” prophecy which is what we have already touched on earlier. This is where we, ourselves act in a certain way which fulfils our beliefs. The other type of prophecy which we are not aware of as much is known as the “other-imposed” prophecy. This is where the expectations of other individuals can influence our actions. These opinions others have can be just as detrimental to us as the ones we have about ourselves. For instance, if someone tells you that you are not a team player, it can lead you to feel disheartened and become closed off to your team members. Which is therefore, fulfilling the belief the person has about you.

Using the self-fulfilling prophecy to treat and train yourself to become better

Because these two types of self-fulfilling prophecies can cause quite a stir in your mental health and your overall development in life, it is important to learn how you can use this concept to your advantage in both your personal and working life.

An important step is to simply become aware of the day to day thoughts, feelings and beliefs you have. By doing this, you are allowing yourself to open up your mind and learn what it is that you tell yourself every day. This can be done in many ways, such as writing down your thoughts and beliefs, taking a quiet 5 minutes to yourself to recognise the type of thoughts you have had or acknowledging your thoughts when in a stressful situation.

After understanding what you have been thinking and believing about yourself, you can use this to develop a new thinking pattern that would be more beneficial to what it is you want to achieve. This can be done by reframing your thoughts and beliefs to more positive alternatives. For instance, you are not feeling confident in performing well in your next project or game and you start to doubt your ability. Once you have acknowledged this thought/belief, you instead think “This is an exciting opportunity for myself to step outside of my comfort zone”. When replacing a positive with a negative, we aren’t completely disregarding our doubts. Instead, we are creating a thought that stems from more positivity. This can then lead to us engaging in more productive actions.

So what can we learn from the self-fulfilling prophecy?

By acknowledging your thoughts and reframing them, you can start to treat and train yourself with more positivity. There are multiple benefits of using the self-fulfilling prophecy to your advantage. These include performing at a higher level and becoming more aware of your mental health. This also includes minimising the chance of developing recurrent negative thoughts in all aspects of your life. So, here’s to positive thinking and a positive you.

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