Self-fulfilling Prophecy

fall leavesThis time of year has always lent itself to introspection and review for me. It is a time to take a good, hard look at the direction in which my life is headed to make sure I’m still on the path I want to be on. That’s not to say that I haven’t had to make adjustments along the way, but they are easier to make if I don’t let too much time go by before I realize something needs to change.

So I think. I ponder. I adjust.

It was during one of these sessions that self-fulfilling prophecy popped into my head. I had a pretty good idea what it meant, but I wanted to be sure I was right. So I looked it up and according to its definition is as follows:

Any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people who may affect a person’s behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled.

I used this definition because it included both positive and negative expectations. We have a tendency to assume that a self-fulfilling prophecy has to be negative. At least I did.

Think about this for a minute. We see somebody who has a mean look on their face. We assume or expect this person to be mean to us. We expect we are the reason for this person’s bad mood. So perhaps we scowl back or snap at the person which makes that person react negatively.

I would venture to say that most of the time we are not the cause of someone’s negative behavior or mood. Especially if they are strangers. But because we’re so wrapped up in our own minds we just expect bad interactions.

What would happen if we smiled when we saw someone frowning or scowling? What would happen if we waved or called out a friendly greeting? What would happen if we got over ourselves just long enough to admit that most people aren’t even aware we’re right there in front of them?

I find most visualization, ‘see it, receive it’ ideologies to be annoying and trite, but I do believe you can attract either positive or negative interactions and circumstances. And it all hinges around self-fulfilling prophecies because we act in such a way as to make certain things happen.

It has always baffled me how clueless some people are when it comes to dysfunctional, negative relationships and repeating the same pattern over and over again. They assume it’s always the other person’s fault. Their behavior is never the cause of the trouble.

This is another reason I like to go through a season of reflection. A season of meditation on what went right and what went wrong. A season of gratitude that I have people in my life who cut me some slack and let me make these adjustments in my own time.

So as we head into this, perhaps the most stressful of all seasons, let’s take a minute to see if there are self fulfilling prophecies that are giving us fits and how we can flip them around so we can actually have peace, love, and joy this holiday season.


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