I first heard the term in my psychology class at California State University Dominguez Hills lots of years ago.
The term caught my ear and I paid close attention as my professor detailed how a self-fulfilling prophecy worked.
Here’s the short of it:
“A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a person unknowingly causes a prediction to come true, due to the simple fact that he or she expects it to come true.” – Erin Long-Crowell, Professor
If you’ve ever read The Secret or watched the movie, you might be thinking this sounds a lot like the Law of Attraction.
Well psychologists have been aware that we are capable of manifesting all kinds of things based on our thoughts and expectations.
And you’ll even find biblical support for this idea of self-fulfilling prophecies…whatever a man thinks, so is he is one biblical passage that comes to mind.
But it was what speaker and author Lisa Nichols said that really helped me understand this idea of self-fulfilling prophecies. She said that you can focus on what you don’t want and get exactly that. Let’s say you wake up late one morning and you constantly say to yourself “I don’t want to be late for work.” And amazingly in an unsurprising twist of fate you find yourself late for work.
This truth I know altogether too well and it all made sense when I heard Lisa speak those words.
How saying and thinking about what you don’t want brings you lots of the very thing you say you don’t want.
If you say you’re unloveable, then you’ll act in a way that makes you unloveable and fulfill your own prophecy.
If you say you’re fat then you’ll engage in behavior that makes/keeps you fat.
If you say you’re successful then you’ll do things that bring about success.
I remember saying from a young age that I didn’t want a certain kind of relationship. I rehearsed it frequently. I’d tell myself, I’d never have that kind of relationship and guess what I got? The relationship I promised myself I’d never have. Why?
Well attached to the self-fulfilling prophecy is something called the Pygmalion Effect. It looks like this:
So what you believe influences your actions that in turn impact others belief about us and so on.
The relationship I kept saying I didn’t want caused me to behave in a way that impacted how the other person felt about me and it was a complete turn off for them. Building a relationship on this will not be that is a sure fire way to get exactly what you don’t want.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Survey your thoughts and desires for a moment.
Are you getting a whole lot of what you don’t want?
It may be time to change how you think and rewrite that self-fulfilling prophecy.