“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t—you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford
What thoughts are going through your mind now? Five minutes ago? An hour ago?
Almost certainly, quite a few.
Ongoing inner chatter takes place relentlessly and reflects how we perceive our world and ourselves. I read on the internet somewhere that we have between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. If this statistic is to be believed, that is a whole lot of internal chatter going on in all of our minds.
These thoughts and inner dialogues are incredibly powerful and strongly influence and shape our reality. They affect our self-image and unconsciously guide our actions and decisions.
What we think about matters very much, as our attitudes become self-fulfilling prophecies and profoundly affect the lives we lead. A self-fulfilling prophecy is an idea or belief that eventually becomes reality because we act as if it is already true, even when it is only “true” in our thoughts.
What does the chatter in your mind tell you? Is it berating you with thoughts such as, “I’m fat,” “I’ll never meet anyone to love,” “I will not live a long life,” “I am unlucky,” or “I am destined to be poor?” Or, conversely, does your internal dialogue tell you things like, “I am lucky,” “I am smart,” “I am healthy and strong,” “I am successful in what I do,” “People enjoy my company.”
Let’s look at a possible scenario.
Say I’ve been invited to a party. If I believe I am unlovable or that I don’t look good (or hold any number of other negative opinions about myself), when I go to the party I might appear despondent, uncomfortable, awkward, or anxious. If someone tries to interact with me, I might be tongue tied or, even worse, appear rude. People at the party are likely to either turn away from me or ignore me because I appear unattractive or unapproachable. This will reinforce my internal belief that I’m not lovable and cannot succeed socially. The reason events unfold as they do in this imagined scene is because I entered the situation expecting things to go that way.
But what if I go to the party believing I look good, I have a lot to offer in conversation and that people will like me? With this attitude, I will exude positive energy and confidence. I will be smiling and appear happy and confident. People will perceive me as open and approachable, and will likely want to speak to me or get to know me better. Entering the party with a positive mindset will lead to much more success.
The party scenario is just one example of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Stated in other words: we get what we expect. These dynamics apply not only in social situations but also in many areas of life, including work, school, family dynamics, sports and artistic endeavours.
Ask yourself: In what ways are self-fulfilling prophecies evident in my life?
Ask yourself: Do I have self limiting thoughts holding me back?
Strategies for Creating Greater Expectations and More Positive Results:
>>> Fake it. Pretend there will be a positive outcome, even if this does not feel natural to you yet. If you “act as if” long enough, the inner feelings, and eventually the actual results will, usually follow.
>>> Spend time with positive and encouraging people. Surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic about you and your life, and make you feel good about yourself and your future. Henry Ford once said, “My best friend is one who brings out the best in me.”
>>> Read things that inspire you. There is a huge wealth of inspirational literature that’s ours for the taking, and most of it is available free at the library or online.
>>> Challenge your own negative internal predictions. If we persist in listening to our own negative predictions, they can be incorporated into our core beliefs about ourselves and hinder our future success. The first step to changing negative thoughts is to become aware of them. Then we can change them. When you catch yourself making negative predictions about your own future, such as “I’ll never amount to anything,” “I’ll never get married,” or “I’ll always be unlovable,” gently tell yourself to stop. Imagine your negative self-talk as a radio channel that is playing songs you don’t want to hear. Just change the channel and start listening to different songs. These new songs could have lyrics such as the following positive affirmations:
“I am good enough.”
“I am loveable.”
“I can be my true self, even though I have imperfections.”
“I am ready for a wonderful life full of wonderful people and fabulous experiences.”
“I am successful.”
“Yes I can!”
In conclusion, every time you notice the negative chatter going on in your head, stop, become aware and change your thought to a more positive prediction. Surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart and who help you expect the best from yourself. This will help you shape your future into a brighter, happier, more productive one. And that’s a great expectation!
Author: Lynne Woolfson
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Romain Toornier/Flickr