Last week I discussed where our beliefs come from and how we can gain information if we look closely to our own judgements and the judgements from others. I believe that with judgement comes a certain expectation. Could it be so that the expectations we hold of ourselves, and others hold of us, are capable of influencing our behaviour?
If this is true, I believe it is a very powerful tool to use if we do it correctly. If the beliefs of someone else can influence us, our own beliefs could do so as well. If we start to look into the beliefs we hold of ourselves, our own expectations, what do we find? What do we expect from ourselves? What do we believe we are capable of doing, of achieving? Who do we believe we are?
‘You’ll never rise higher than your personal story’
– Robin Sharma
As I suggested last week, our beliefs are formed by our knowledge and experiences. If we have a negative experience, and it gets reinforced, we tend to adapt it as our own. Let us say you are discussing something with your friends. Everyone is giving their opinion and you want to say something as well. This way you might feel included as part of the group. However, what you say is not accepted well by the group and they ignore it by continuing the conversation. If you experience this a couple of times, this might give you the sensation that you are not capable of saying meaningful things.
These negative experiences add up and we tend to adapt them as our own. The person who has experienced this might think he/she is not capable of saying meaningful things during a discussion because of the way that they are. I believe we can all agree that there are more factors in this example that may influence these negative experiences, and the persons capability of providing an argument is merely a small part of it.
Still he/she tends to belief that they are not capable of doing so, and they form a limited expectation of themselves. Maybe the group of friends forms this expectation as well, and these expectations influence future behaviour of this person. If we continue to go downhill, the person might stop themselves from sharing their thoughts in other situations as well.
‘Limitation is nothing more than a mentality that too many good people practice daily
until they believe it’s reality’
– Robin Sharma
The self-fulfilling prophecy is a psychological theory that suggests that people their beliefs and expectations can influence the behaviour of others. This means that if someone expects you to behave in a certain way, this can influence you into showing behaviour that matches that expectation. Hence, we might even start to believe the expectations and define our own identity with them. To give an example, if we expect to be rejected by our significant other, we can start to act in a way that actually causes them to reject us.
The Law of Attraction works in a similar way. What we believe to be true, we attract. This might sound wishy washy, but it is actually quite logical if you think of it. If we believe that we are courageous, smart, and athletic for example, we program our mind into looking for signals that confirm these beliefs. When we notice these confirmations, we enhance our believes and they tend to grow even stronger. Hence, if we would allow ourselves to see the truly magnificent beings that we are, just imagine what our lives would look like.
The good thing is that positive experiences work in the same way as negative ones. If we have successful moments, these tend to add up as well, providing us with strength and self-belief. They help us to feel capable and good about ourselves. Hence, this is why it is important to surround yourself with people that lift you up.
‘It is a moral obligation to do what you find meaningful’
– Jordan B. Peterson
If you are willing to grow in a certain area in your life, successful situations encourage you to keep pursuing it. Let us say you want to get better at giving presentations. The first time you have the opportunity to give a presentation, you receive applause and compliments from the public. This adds up to your belief of being capable to give presentations.
The way in which we perceive ourselves can determine how we live. If we decide to focus on our shortcomings and start to believe that they define us, we start to notice signals that confirm these beliefs and these beliefs grow stronger as well. I am not suggesting that we should ignore our shortcomings, but I want to acknowledge that we should focus more on our strengths and capabilities. I believe we all have greatness within us, and if you have not found it yet it does not mean that it is not there.
I want to end this blogpost by reminding you that it is important to not only think about the expectations you set for yourself, but also the people you surround yourself with. The people we allow to get close to us, can influence us the most. What are their expectations of us? And what do we expect from ourselves?
If you have experienced this text to be helpful and insightful, please share it with others. Let us spread love and awareness together. Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below or send me an e-mail. I encourage you to share your experience or thoughts!
Downey, G., Freitas, A., Michaelis, B., & Khouri, H. (1998). The self-fulfilling prophecy in close relationships: rejection sensitivity and rejection by romantic partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), :545-60