Many people are familiar with the phrase “self-fulling prophecy.” A brief definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy is having your future actions be influenced by a faulty belief about the situation. So, you falsely believe something will happen and because of those false believes it eventually leads to the behavior you “prophesied.”  This classic, common definition is usually seen in a negative light.

An example of this includes what someone recently told me in therapy. She shared that if she was treated a certain way she would be made to feel a particular way. Then she would feel this way the rest of the week (putting that responsibility on another person is an entirely additional issue). Talk about setting yourself up for negative feelings and behavior!

Thomas Merton said, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” This leaves open the opportunity for “positive self-fulfilling prophecy.” I believe this is just as attainable. Within reason of course.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. I had a birthday recently. People sent me messages encouraging me to have a good day. I thought, “Yes. I will view this as a good day no matter what.” This worked, I think it was because I was certain I was going to have a good day. I focused on positive things and the things I was looking forward to doing. I chose to not let disappointments keep me down. It was indeed a good day! I defined my situation of having a good day as real and the consequences were the same (if only I was consistent in this thinking).

So, I encourage you to consider how to use “self-fulfilling prophecy” in a positive way. Where do you need to set yourself up for success? Your job, family, school, faith community? Maybe all of the above.

Start with a good day today!

Justin P. Lewis, MA

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