The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: What You Think

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Your Thoughts Are Indicators of Where You’re Going

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

positive thinking

Back when I was a kid, I heard Mom and Ma (my maternal grandmother) talk about saying good things about myself. Norman Vincent Peale’s book had been popular for about a decade and people were talking about the importance of positive thinking.

Just a few years before Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, was published in 1952, sociologist Robert Merton wrote an article (1948) coining the term “Self-fulfilling Prophecy.”  If you tell yourself you’re going to fail, then fail you will because that is what you said you were going to do.

I rarely hear the words “self-fulfilling prophecy,” but the concept is everywhere. Your thoughts program your mind. This concept has been around for thousands of years, back to the ancient Greeks. Now, with modern technology, we can measure the chemical and physiological changes in the body directly caused by thoughts and feelings.

In the article Low Self-Esteem: 10 Causeswhat you think about yourself is one of the causes of low self-esteem. When you reinforce the negative things people may have said about you, or what you think about yourself, you’re setting yourself up for the unintended consequence (another or Merton’s concepts) of feeling miserable about yourself and sabotaging yourself.

It’s time to change thoughts and behaviors

changeIt’s time to take control of your life and bring more joy into your every day existence. You have more power than you think! Your can make major changes in your life by taking action to change what is happening in your mind.

Get into the habit of practicing these behaviors to gain control over your thoughts – and your life:

      • Acknowledge your feelings. Be honest with yourself about what you feel. None of us like to feel miserable. We dislike it so much we do everything we can to avoid facing those feelings. Face your feelings. Admit what they are and where they come from. Only by being honest with yourself can you change what is causing them.


    • Be realistic about what you can and can’t do, and the time frame needed.

      I certainly have the ability to drop the extra weight I’m carrying. There is no way I’m going to change the thick bone structure and short stature I was born with. Know what you can change and what you can’t. Accept, make a plan, and then move on.


    • Get support. Discuss your feelings with close friends or family. Sometimes an objective third party is needed.There are times we need the voice of someone not emotionally involved in our lives to give us a different perspective. If your family and friends are supportive, you might not believe what they say about how wonderful you are because, “they’re supposed to love you.”


    • Just stop it. When you catch yourself engaging in the negative thinking, tell yourself, “Self,  just stop positive growthit. This hasn’t gotten you anywhere, let’s try something new.”  Have what I call a file cabinet in your mind. Form a visual image of a file cabinet. Think of something wonderful, a happy memory, and see yourself put it in the file cabinet. When you catch yourself in negative thinking, stop, go to the file cabinet and pull out the memory.
  • Take one action each day which moves you closer to what you want in life. Make that one phone call. Go on that one walk. Make a list and then check something off each day. Just get the momentum going.

It’s time to develop a new self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself. Keep that in your mind.

If you need help to get rid of those negative thoughts, let’s work together and get you going on a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.

5 thoughts on “The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: What You Think”

  1. Everything you have said is so true! I have started talking back to self-doubts. “It’ll never work – I’ll never be able to do it.” … “are you sure? Haven’t there been other times when you thought something was insurmountable & then you did it? (a slideshow of accomplishments begins) So why would this situation be any different?

  2. “Take one action each day which moves you closer to what you want in life. ”

    I agree – slow and steady will take you far! While it is easy to complain and say a task is too big, if we do just one thing each day, we can make great progress!

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