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5 Self-Fulfilling Prophecies You Don’t Want to Happen On You

5 Self-Fulfilling Prophecies You Don’t Want to Happen On You

We have all had them. Those thoughts that turn into beliefs that somehow become reality. This is the epitome of the self-fulfilling prophecies. A belief or thought that is made real by our attitudes and behaviors, positive or negative. It’s the negative that we want to avoid.

It may have started with a friend or loved one who drops a thought on you that seemed enticing at the time. And three years later you realize that you have been living out someone else’s dream and what turns out to be your nightmare.

Here are five self-fulfilling prophecies you don’t want make a reality.

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1. “The Wanderer” – Unwritten Goals

Think of goal setting like having a map for your life.

As The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland points out, “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Any Road Will Get You There.”

That’s where goal setting plays an important part in our lives.  However, vague, unrealistic goals can be demotivating. Since only 10% or less of the population actually write down goals, it is easy to see how popular culture puts little emphasis on goal setting. By not writing down S.M.A.R.T. goals, you may wake up 5 years from now in the same frustrating job with the same massive amount of debt and wonder how you got to where you are. Writing down goals gives you a chance to create positive self-fulfilling prophecies and move away from a meaningless future.

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2. “The Prejudiced” – Living Out Advice from Prejudiced Family Members

It’s the uncle who you looked up to, but as you turned older you realize he had given you bad advice. For example, your uncle says “You come from the poorest part of the city, there is no way you will amount to anything.” Better yet a guidance counselor tells you, “You have never had a family member finish higher than the 10th grade, you will be running streets just like them.” By listening to these negative statements and living them out, you will have a hard time breaking a bad cycle. Choose whose advice you listen to wisely.

3. “Eeyore” – Letting Your Past Define Your Future

You remember the character from Winnie the Pooh. Eeyore was the pessimistic, ever glum donkey. He looked at his past as a means of predicting his future. Here is a real life example. Perhaps you were initially terrible in public speaking in high school or college. You tried it a few times, but you just gave up and concluded you were never going to be good at it. Fast forward to your job today. You need to give a short speech but are in complete shock and fear of it. You have just lived out your past. Rather than working towards improving, you give up early and live out an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy. Change it around and improve regardless of your past.

4. “Someone Else’s Dream” – Living Out Your Parents Career Advice

In his book 48 Days to the Work You Love, career coach Dan Miller features a story of the surgeon who as it turns out can’t stand working with his patients on a personal level. It’s not part of his personality. So rather than dealing with it rationally he turns to heroin. By the time Dan meets with the surgeon, the only veins left to shoot up heroin are in his heel. In talking with the surgeon, it turns out that his father and grandfather were both surgeons and he felt obligated to live out their dreams and not his. Today, he still worked weekends in an emergency room setting where the relationships with patients were short lived and he found his passion of driving a truck during the week. By living out your self-fulfilling prophecies and not your parents, you find things much more gratifying.

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5. “The Paranoid Boyfriend or Girlfriend”

Have you ever met a guy, you liked him, dated him for a month. However, every week he asks if you are going to break up with him and you end up doing so? People with a strong fear of rejection are hard to live with. Don’t be that guy or girl. Build a relationship day by day through trust, faith and love.

What these 5 negative self-fulfilling prophecies have in common is that they all start with how we talk to ourselves. If you keep a positive outlook and take action towards daily goals, you will achieve more positive self-fulfilling prophecies.

As historian Howard Zinn states it best, “Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.”

Featured photo credit: Tom Raftery via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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