Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

One of the things I believe in most firmly is what’s called a “Self-Fulling Prophecy”. Basically, that means that if you believe something about yourself is true, and then you act as if it is true, it can become true. Here’s a simple example: Let’s imagine I want to stop drinking soft drinks, and instead drink more water.

If I firmly believe that can happen, I’ll quit buying soft drinks, which removes that temptation from my refrigerator, and I’ll make sure I have instant and easy access to tasty water wherever I go.

On the other hand, if I’m not really sure I can give up soft drinks, I’ll instead make sure I always have money for the vending machines, and have soft drinks in my refrigerator, just in case.

Kind of a “no-brainer”, isn’t it? With that first situation, I’ll be drinking a lot more water. With the second, I’ll be continuing my soft-drink drinking ways.

Now, how does that Self-Fulfilling Prophecy concept, also called an SFP, apply to children, and even other adults in our lives?

I have noticed that what we tell a person about who we think they are, and even what we say about them to others within their hearing, can set up an SFP for them, for good or for ill. Isn’t it amazing how much effect we can have on each other with our words? “You’re lazy.” “You’re so thoughtful.” What someone tells us can stick with us. (Have you had that experience, too? It’s so nice if it was something positive someone said about you!) It is easy to begin to believe what we have been told about ourselves so firmly. The next step is to act that way more and more often, and presto! an SFP. We become who we have been told that we are.

Now for a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy story about my granddaughter, Natalie.

Here’s the background:

My sweet granddaughter has an amazing sense of style. (Don’t look at me. She didn’t get it from me, unfortunately.) I realized how instinctive it is for her when she was four and a half. I had carefully (read to mean “with a lot of help from the salesladies”) chosen an outfit of a blouse, slacks and an over-shirt to wear for Natie’s preschool graduation. For fun, I was showing it to her ahead of time, and she told me it was really good. But then, she said, “You should wear these shoes with it instead.” as she pointed to a different pair of shoes in my closet. The jangling brain part? I put those on in place of the ones I had on, and she was right. They looked a lot better. So I profusely complimented her on her sense of style. As time passed, I realized this wasn’t an isolated incident. A few months later, I needed to buy a dress for a wedding, so since Natie was visiting that day, we went shopping together. She picked out a dress and cover shawl that looked fantastic on me. No kidding. Since then, I’ve, okay, consulted with her on my attire for big events, and even copied some of her fashion ideas. I regularly compliment her on her sense of style, even to how she likes to arrange the knick-knacks in my house.

Now to the self-filling prophecy part. Natie is now seven, and I hadn’t realized how fully she had integrated my respect for her sense of style and fashion, until last week when I asked her to help me arrange some items in a display case so that they look really nice. She grinned and said, “I know, Grandma. You want me to ‘Natie-fy’ it.” Of course, by then I was grinning, too, and we had a lot of fun “Natie-fying it.”

And at that point, I realized again how crucial it is to listen to what I say to the people in my life about them.

When I talk to them and about them, am I lifting them up or smacking them down? As a wise teacher once told me, “People tend to live up or down to your expectations of them.” So my ‘note to myself’ that I’m sharing with you – let’s encourage those in our lives, so they know how important they are to us. We need them to “Natie-fy” our lives, too, and with our giving them our positive SFPs about them, we can help it happen.

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