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What Is Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and How Does It Work

Have you ever noticed that when we are subconsciously confident in something, in the end, this event happens exactly as we expected? For example, when we are very afraid of being late for work, we will definitely come later than the boss; we do everything so as not to get better, and as a result, we see plus 2 kg on the scales; if you are convinced that the partner is lying to us, then one day we’ll definitely catch them in a lie. And there are many other examples that each of us can recall from our past. What is it really: fate or a self-fulfilling prophecy that we pulled into our lives?

What is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

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The concept of “self-fulfilling prophecy” was first used in 1948 by the American sociologist Robert K. Merton in his article The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. There he described it as follows: “… this is a false definition of the situation, causing a new behavior that turns the original false idea into reality.” In other words, the way you evaluate reality forms your actions and leads to the corresponding result.

Carolyn Kaufman, Ph.D., and author of The Writer’s Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment And Human Behavior provides a simple example of how this works. Imagine that someone invited to a party with a lot of strangers. You know that it is difficult for you to quickly establish communication and make a good impression the first time. As a result, having come to the party, you will behave detached and restrained. You will notice that the outsiders didn’t especially want to communicate with you, they rather even avoided you. This event will only strengthen your belief that you have communication problems.

Now the opposite situation: you know that you have always been the soul of the company. You are happy to go to this party to meet strangers and make new friends. At the event, you communicate a lot, smile, and are generally positive about others. As a result, the event went well, and you already have some new friends on Facebook.

What is the problem? Strangers at the party were the same in both examples. But your inner attitude to the situation influenced the interaction of outsiders with you and thereby radically changed the outcome of the whole evening.

That is, there is no magic in the fact that, for example, someone is hired to work your dream, but you are not. It’s just that the expectations and the result that we present are so strong that we, without giving ourselves an account of this, begin to change our behavior and thereby come to the very picture in our head. In turn, other people will simply provide the feedback that we have already set ourselves up for.

How to use this phenomenon for your own purposes

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In most cases, the event, before it happens, initially scrolls in your head. Your main task is to make this thought positive. In other words, program yourself for success. How to do it:

  • slow down the emerging negativity. For example, if you were invited to an interview in a great company, then you should not think about how much you still can’t do. Speak to yourself about your strengths and advantages;
  • imagine that the situation has already happened: exhale and remember this inner feeling of lightness;
  • imagine the positive outcome of events as often as possible, develop the ability to always expect the best from life;
  • use material things to attract what you want. For example, if you want to get promoted, start dressing in business suits. Buy something that, in your opinion, must be for a person with a high position. Thus, you are kind of deceiving your brain. And every time you put on a new jacket or look at a new purchase, you will feel the strength in yourself to do more and better.