Self Fulfilling Prophesy

13 04 2020
Self fulfilling prophesy

Years ago, at a communication seminar in Lagos, the speaker talked about the “Self Fulfilling Prophesy” (SFP) as one of the causes of break between friends, business partnership, and family.

According to the encyclopedia Britannica, SFP is a process through which an originally false expectation leads to its own confirmation. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, an individual’s expectations about another person or entity eventually result in the other person or entity acting in ways that confirm the expectations (encyclopedia Britannica).

The video above uses a simple anecdote to explain SFP:  if two people go to the same party, one expecting to have a nice time, the other expecting to have a nasty time, most times, their expectations come true,  because each  will behave in according to his expectations thus fulfilling the prophesy. Thus, the one that expects to have fun would act excited, smiling, and meeting people.  People, in turn, will smile back and engage with him, and as a result, he will have a nice time. The other one expecting lousy experiences will be curt, restrained, and uptight. He will avoid making eye contact, people would avoid him, and he end up having a bad time thus fulfilling his own prophesy!

After the seminar, I was incredulous. I didn’t want to believe want to believe that I suffered from SFP; however, I began observing myself to see if it was true.

I must confess that only in very few occasions, this theory was accurate. Many times, at the office, if I “apriori” decided something was not going to work out, it won’t! Later if I checked backwards why it hadn’t worked, I would discover that I had acted in such a way to discourage it.

I have long stopped wondering why I do not get along with some colleagues at the office and why, if a friend told me that someone I have never met was selfish bum, and if I eventually meet that person, I came to the same conclusion. This by the way is why calumny (bad mouthing people behind their back) is sinful because destroying the good name of another increases the chance that SFP would kick in when other people meet them.  

What the speaker did not tell us at the seminar though was how to overcome SFP, because I could not. I kept trying to stop doing it without success. It was instinctive. I could observe the tone of my voice changing due to SFP but can’t do anything about it. The more I tried to change the worse it seemed to be getting.

Thanks to a holy priest, I got to know that it’s was part of the “human condition” or what spiritual writers call our “wounded nature” Wounded by original sin”

“We can’t remove it or change it,” he said,” You can only struggle against it, and that struggle is your victory. It has not compromised you. This is why we pray, my friend, this is why we  examine our conscience frequently, go to confession and receive the sacraments of Eucharist, because somehow God’s grace has more weight than our weakness and tips our scale towards goodness .

Chinwuba Iyizoba


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