Whether you think you can or you can’t – either way, you’re right.“ -Henry Ford-
Our expectations influence our actions as much as our perceptions.
When we worry, we act as if the worst case scenario has already happened and notice more and more things to match. It’s the same the other way around. Where we direct our attention, we notice more.
When we’ve just become single and are unhappy about it, we see happy couples everywhere. If we decided to buy a red car, we are surprised how many of them are on the road.
This is why people who are often preoccupied with the negative moments of life are seldom convinced that there are positive moments as well. They’ve lost all motivation to search for joy in their lives.
Optimism has many positive side effects such as healthier and therefore longer, increased resilience and the ability to increased well-being and stability especially in stressful situations.
Self-fulfilling prophecy is a common phenomenon in history. Some famous examples are:
Rosenthal and Jacobson’s (1968) experiment in which teachers believed that some of their students could learn faster than others, even though there were no differences between the students. This led teachers to spend more time with the supposedly more gifted students and treat them better. As a result, the performance of these students actually improved. These students were also motivated to do more.
Pygmalion in the Workshop (1913) by George Bernard Shaw, in which an English language teacher teaches a working-class woman and gets her to speak correct English. When he introduces her to his friends, they believe she is a noble lady.
The Self-fulfilling Prophecy in Social Science and Everyday Life (1985) by Robert Merton, in which he shows how people’s expectations can influence events. For example, the expectation that a certain group of people will be violent may lead people to avoid that group or even to act aggressively towards the group. This can then actually lead to violence.
These are just three examples of self-fulfilling prophecy in history.
Let’s look again at the quote from Henry Ford. What do you think? Do you want to change your attitude? Do you think you can do it, or do you think you can’t?
Pick a date and let’s see what we can do together.