Prophecy often comes from fear, not fate.
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Hello Diner. A study published in 2011 answers this question. To clarify: the researchers reasoned that those who are insecure and crave approval from others will fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection. This insecurity fueled anti-social behavior that made them come off cold, negative, and withdrawn. This fulfilled their worries of being rejected–which leads to your question, Diner.
The scientists found that self-affirming activities broke this negative cycle. Over the period of study, the volunteers (who didn’t know what was being measured) listed eleven attributes from most favorable to least. The experimental group wrote about why their best attribute was favorable. The control group wrote about how their ninth attribute was favorable to someone else–something neutral the participants didn’t feel strongly about. The team asked how the participants felt about themselves and their relationships. A nurse (who also didn’t know what was being measured) recorded changes in physical mood and attitude over the course of the study.
At the study’s end, those who wrote about their best attribute actually felt and achieved greater security in their relationships! This isn’t just some Fortune Cookie suggesting something that might work. These are true results. It worked! If you want to try this, here are some suggestions for activities. Feel free to come up with your own:
1. Write about why you like your best attribute. Why not do what the researchers did?
2. Visit your Facebook Timeline. Unless we overshare, we post about positive events–positives we tend to forget when we’re down.
3. Spend time with your hobbies. Be that drawing, writing, gardening, cooking, or working on your car, working on and accomplishing something you are good at is very self-affirming.
4. Express your core values. They are your values because you believe that is what a good person should live by.
5. Reflect on positive aspects of yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything that is record setting. Just think about what you appreciate in yourself.
6. Ask your friends what they like about you. If you have a supportive group of friends, in your life or over the internet, ask them what they think of you. Sometimes everyone needs help reminding themselves of their good qualities.
If you’ve explored these options and still have trouble finding good in yourself, consider getting evaluated for depression. I say this without stigma; it’s a real disease. Having someone special in your life makes you feel extremely lucky. To find someone who meshes well with your personality is even mathematically unlikely–a discussion we’ll save for another Fortune. Trust that you deserve this person and, more importantly, this person has all the reasons you listed to like you. Protecting yourself from hurt for so long, it may be difficult to trust someone’s genuine love for you. But now you know how to stop that thinking and enjoy what may be a very long relationship with this person. My best wishes to your future together, Diner.
Pychyl, T. A. (2009, March). Self-affirmation: A Strategy to Reduce Self-control Failure. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200903/self-affirmation-strategy-reduce-self-control-failure
Stinson, D. A., Logel, C., Shepherd, S., & Zanna, M. P. (2011). Rewriting the self-fulfilling prophecy of social rejection: Self-affirmation improves relational security and social behavior up to 2 months later. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1145-1149. doi: 10.1177/0956797611417725