The term self-fulfilling prophecy is used in psychology to describe the tendency for our beliefs to influence conscious and unconscious actions that create the outcome we believe in. A classic example is that a person who wakes up and believes they are going to have a “bad day” is likely to discount positives and amplify negatives throughout the day, and may unconsciously behave in ways that contribute to a less than positive day (e.g., not smiling and saying hi to others, wishing the day would just be over). Similarly, if I consistently tell myself that a person in my life (e.g., spouse, coworker, friend, family member) is irritating, irresponsible, or any other negative characteristic, then my mind will unconsciously confirm that belief by holding on to any information in line with that belief while simultaneously disregarding information that might contradict it. Furthermore, I may treat that person in a negative way, which is likely to influence their behavior towards me, creating a divide in our relationship that makes it difficult to see the positive qualities that are present.
Although we may be aware of the importance of self-belief (i.e., confidence in our own abilities and value) on our psychological/emotional health, I think we are less cognizant of how belief impacts our external reality such as our relationships, job performance and satisfaction, and overall life direction. The famous psychologist William James once said, “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which more than anything will affect a successful outcome.” If you go into a job interview believing you will not get the job, you make that possibility more likely than if you entered the interview feeling confident in your ability to get hired and ultimate contribute positively to the company’s mission.
It is important to note that not only do our beliefs impact outcomes, they also impact the journey towards those outcomes – and what is our life if not one big journey? In other words, focus on creating and maintaining belief systems that highlight the best in others and promote positive action. Notice what narratives you have about important people in your life and about the situations in which you find yourself. Do you tell yourself every day you don’t want to go to work? Do you assume that coworkers, friends, and/or family are going to disappoint you, irritate you, or otherwise hurt you? We are more powerful than we realize, and our belief systems provide the instructions that our mind uses to shape our reality and create our life. Fill your mind with positive beliefs regarding success, health, and loving relationships, and you’ll be surprised at how much your reality mirrors those beliefs.