“A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior” (shoutout Wikipedia).
More commonly (and simply), self-fulfilling prophecies are things that we’re afraid of that we ultimately make happen on our own. It manifests in all sorts of fun ways. Maybe you’re afraid of losing your job. Over time, that fear becomes a dominating presence in your workday, affecting your ability to do the very job you’re afraid of losing. You’re more scattered, you start fucking up, and eventually you do get the boot. Were you right all along?
Hint: No, you weren’t.
It’s easy to think you were, though. You get to sit back and congratulate yourself on your foresight, rather than see that you made it happen yourself.
We do this to each other all the time. If I’m convinced beyond a doubt that you’re going to cheat on me/leave me/fuck me over, I’ll be hyper-sensitive to anything that lends itself to that conclusion. I’ll be looking for the supporting evidence anywhere I can get it. The problem here is that you will find evidence of whatever it is you are looking for if you try hard enough. You really will. I promise.
The things that people do aren’t always so cut and dry. Everything is open to interpretation, and you never know where someone’s head is at unless you ask (and they answer) directly. It’s so, so goddamn easy to see what you want in what people do or say. Doing that completely eliminates any possibility for open and honest discourse, though.
You think someone (a friend, lover, anyone) is going to abandon you. Not because they did anything, but because you tend to think that of people in general. To try and protect yourself from that inevitable conclusion, you look for whatever you can to prove your theory right. Everything becomes a Statement of Something, and seemingly innocuous interactions are suddenly carrying the weight of it all.
But if you’re constantly focused on everything they say and do through that lens, you’re not leaving any room for that person to have feelings and emotions of their own. If you hurt them or piss me them and they need some time to themselves, all you’re going to see is, “Aha!! They left!! I was right!!” There’s no reason for you to work or fight to maintain the relationship, because in your head they were always going to leave anyway and it’s their choice, so whatever. Eventually, that’s not a relationship the other person is going to be able to stay in. And it won’t be because you were right about them all along. It will be because when you do that, the person you’re doing it to is going to be constantly trying to prove themselves to you and it will never be good enough.
Are you seeing the problem yet??
Your relationship will never, ever, grow and flourish if you’re busy trying to ‘catch’ the other person in something. It’s deceitful, passive aggressive, and quite frankly just Bad Form.
But there’s an up to every down, isn’t there?
What if, instead of looking for the supporting evidence of all the things that are going to go wrong, you start looking for the supporting evidence of the things that are already going right?
Stop looking for the proof that someone will hurt you. You’re only hurting yourself (and more than likely the person you’re afraid of being hurt by). Look for the love. It’s a choice. A conscious, difficult choice, but a choice nonetheless.
Take the time to notice when that person does something for you out of love and caring. It doesn’t have to be an overt display. Going out of their way to spend time with you. The look in their eyes when you glance up at each other. A soft touch, a tone of voice, a favor, letting you hold the TV remote, for fuck’s sake you guys anything.
Look for love in every single moment of every single interaction the way you looked for signs you’d get fucked over. Intentionally try to interpret as much as you can in a loving way. Confront the idea that you aren’t worth being loved to begin with. Allow yourself to feel love. To let it in. To absorb it and let it fill you until there isn’t any room left for your doubts and insecurities.
Because we will always find exactly what we set out to find. And because maybe, just maybe, a self-fulfilling prophecy can be good.