It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which more than anything will affect a successful outcome.William James
Just the other day, I was mindlessly stroking my chin and jaws as I sat here with a horrible case of writer’s block. I stroked the bumps along my chin as I remembered in complete distraction how they came to be.
This story is all about one phenomena that changes the way we feel about ourselves.
It goes like this:
when I was about seven, my family lived in a town called Englewood in NJ.
The neighborhood I lived full of diversity: diversity of cultures, races, idealogies, and beliefs. And in this neighborhood, I had a culmination of all kinds of different friends.
I had friends that loved dressing up and playing princess. I had friends that loved exploring the backwoods and diggging up holes and climbing trees.
I also had friends that loved getting on anything with wheels. Despite enjoying riding the pegs of bicycles, I never got around to enjoying riding the skateboard.
I witnessed my mom almost fainting when I had the courage to get on one.
It was a beautiful day: sun shining – birds chirping – kids laughing – kinda day. And on this day, a friend dared me to hop on a skateboard going down a hill with the slope of a black diamond on a ski resort.
And on this day, being a stubborn, prideful little seven year-old, I took his dare head on. literally.
I raced down the hill and fell face-forward onto pavement.
I remember how time warped right at the moment the skateboard caught a pebble. As I fell forward in slow motion, I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t want to risk cutting up my hands and decided instead fall forward onto my face.
The damage was done.
I didn’t realize how bad it was until I got home dripping in blood, cupping my chin. My mom took one look at my chin and her eyes rolled backward.
Turns out, I ripped open my chin enough to see the jawbone (by some miracle, I didn’t break any bones).
I have multiple scars.
They’re all from being a kid; being careless, and enjoying what life has to offer in exploration.
I wear my scars proudly.
They serve as reminders of how much exploration I’ve accomplished and how much courage really exists inside.
But others attempt to hide their scars:
“they add imperfections.”
“they ruin ___.”
What we see on a day-to-day basis reminds us of who we are.
Good or bad, it swings our lives one way or another.
Psychologists and sociologists call it:
This is the cycle:
- We hold beliefs about ourselves: I’m no good at singing.
- Those beliefs influence the way we behave: A group of friends want to create a band and perform at a local bar. I decline (there’s no effing way I’m going to showcase my off-key singing!).
- The way we behave affects the way others see us/what they believe about us: she’s so scared to go on stage. she must really be horrid with music.
- What others believe about us influence the way they treat us: I’m never invited to another outing involving music.
… and the cycle perpetuates.
This cycle perpetuates in close relationships, work relationships, home relationships, and self-relationships.
If I have deep unconscious beliefs that I’m inferior to others because of the color of my skin, or the sound of my accent; then others will begin to see us that way and treat us that way as well.
In fact, it works the other way around as well.
Researchers found that they can change how “smart” kids become by influencing teachers’ beliefs about them. This is called the pygmalian effect, and when teachers believed that certain students scored extremely high on an intelligence test, by the end of the school year, those students actually scored top of the class in their academic scores (Rosenthal, 1985).
I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free. (Michelangelo)
How we see others shapes their behaviors; how they see us shapes ours.
The first step is to acknowledge that a self-fulfilling prophecy exists in shaping the way we feel about ourselves and also the way in which our reality begins to shape itself.
Like the skateboard that began to pick up momentum down the hill, once it gets going, it kicks on a life of its own – and there it goes.
Want to know how to stop a limiting self-fulfilling prophecy?
Join me here.