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Do you believe in prophecy? I’m not talking about quite literally seeing the future, which is the most common way prophecies are conceptualized in pop culture. I’m talking about the idea that deeply held beliefs about the future, a person’s expectations and thoughts about what’s to come, influence an outcome, either bringing us closer to or further away from an ideal tomorrow. Our beliefs hold immense power, shaping the course of our lives in ways we may not always realize. What a person believes can shape their reality. In my last few blog posts, I’ve been emphasizing the hidden power of our thoughts, whether they be negative thoughts or positive affirmations. Today, I want you to come away with a deeper understanding of the power of prediction, and how beliefs and their associated unconscious behaviors can spell the difference between success and failure. In this blog post, we’ll explore two profound concepts: self fulfilling prophecies, which propel us towards success, and their counterpart, self defeating prophecies, which hinder progress. Additionally, we’ll uncover the transformative influence of mindfulness and positive thinking in steering our lives towards achievement and fulfillment.

What is a self fulfilling prophecy?

Self-fulfilling prophecies are the manifestation of our beliefs about ourselves. It’s a psychological phenomenon where we unconsciously align our current behavior to fulfill our expectations and beliefs about the future. Sometimes called the Oedipus effect, its base concept examines how a prediction itself influences that predicted event. When we believe in our capabilities and envision success, our actions align with this belief, often leading to the realization of our aspirations. Self fulfilling prophecies can be valuable tools for manifesting a more fulfilling reality. A self fulfilling prophecy can either be positive or negative self fulfilling prophecies, and which form they take can be influences by our memories, behaviors, personality, knowledge, life experiences, and even others’ expectations!

A positive self fulfilling prophecy can take many forms, such as:

  • You believed you would ace a final exam, causing you to study more and prepare accordingly. The belief that you would succeed shaped your direction.
  • You believed you would get that huge promotion, so you worked especially hard until you got it.
  • You believed that you have found your dream home and wanted to buy it, so you unconsciously saved more than usual, and were especially persistent with the real estate agent.
There are many more examples, but you get the point. Believing in our potential to succeed sets a powerful precedent. It imbues us with confidence, influences our behavior, and often results in positive outcomes. When we anticipate success, we approach challenges with determination and perseverance. In a way, the idea of a self fulfilling prophecy aligns with a belief I’ve been championing since day one of my career — reality can be shaped to align with our dreams. It is this truth that allows anyone from any circumstance to take control of their destiny, and move towards a brighter future with grace and determination. Self fulfilling prophecies, when harnessed, can be the secret to a happier life. These feelings and predictions about the future are powerful, especially when they are filled with positive expectations. However, when a belief or expectation is filled with negative feelings, they can turn a self fulfilling prophecy into a self defeating prophecy.

What is a self defeating prophecy?

A self defeating prophecy is a form of a self fulfilling prophecy that, rather than a prediction of a positive outcome, a person believes that they will fail. Self defeating prophecies emerge from negative beliefs about ourselves. When we anticipate failure or believe we are incapable, our actions tend to reflect this prediction, often leading to suboptimal outcomes. This form of self fulfilling prophecy can be particularly hard to recognize. Self defeating prophecies can have a significant impact on various aspects of a person’s life, including relationships, academic or professional achievements, and overall well-being. They may lead us to engage in damaging or unhelpful behaviors. The problem with negative self fulfilling prophecies is that they are far more common due to our psychology — research suggests that we tend to internalize and recall failures and negative memories easier than positive ones, a phenomenon known as the negativity bias. In essence, negative self fulfilling prophecies impact us with greater intensity, and influence our behaviors more commonly. For example, if someone predicted that they are not capable of succeeding in a particular task, they may approach it with fear, a lack of confidence, and a lack of motivation. This attitude leads to subpar performance, ultimately fulfilling the initial belief of failure.

A self defeating prophecy can come in the form of:

  • You tell yourself you have poor math skills, so you end up not studying or preparing for the big exam, leading you to perform poorly.
  • You don’t believe you will be able to afford your dream home, so you don’t bother considering saving up for it.
  • You don’t believe you will get the promotion, so consequently you do not.
It’s important to recognize and challenge these negative beliefs, predictions, and behaviors in order to break the cycle and foster a more positive and empowered mindset.

How do I manifest a positive self fulfilling prophecy?

Undoing years of negative biases about ourselves that cause harm to our wellbeing can be a slow and arduous process, but the payoff is worth it. Life is a colorful tapestry that is filled with a world of endless possibilities, and we have the power to shape this reality to our liking. To get a sense about the behaviors that lead towards a positive self fulfilling prophecy, let’s look at a few steps in the process that can jumpstart your journey.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset

Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and believe that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. The concept of a growth mindset involves seeing everything, especially perceived setbacks, as areas for development.

Set Clear, Attainable Goals

Define specific objectives that align with your vision of success. Break them down into manageable steps. Making sense of a self fulfilling prophecy involves staying realistic, and knowing your true strengths and weaknesses.

Visualize Your Success

Envision yourself achieving your goals in vivid detail. Engage your senses and emotions in this mental exercise. I find journaling to be especially helpful in articulating a clear idea about success.

Reframe Negative Thoughts

Cultivate awareness of your thoughts and beliefs. Mindfulness is a critical aspect of self care that leads you to recognize and challenge negative patterns and quash an originally false conception. Replace self-defeating beliefs with positive, affirming statements. Focus on your strengths and accomplishments.

Seek Support and Guidance

Surround yourself with positive influences. Seek the advice of mentors, coaches, or trusted friends who can provide encouragement and perspective. Life is full of people who have experienced a self fulfilling prophecy, and their experiences can be particularly helpful in recognizing patterns of your own.


Our beliefs serve as the threads that shape our experiences and behaviors. By understanding the impact of self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophecies, and embracing mindfulness and positive thinking, we gain the power to chart our course towards fulfillment and achievement. It’s a constant process of growth and self awareness. Remember, the journey to success begins with the belief that it is not only possible but also well within your grasp.

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