Ego and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

life script

This is a cautionary tale of when the stories we tell ourselves hold us back…

Phil and I worked together for a while. He was a well-meaning, friendly guy, but he could talk the hind legs of a donkey. I found Phil hard to listen to as his talking consisted of a lot of telling rather then sharing or philosophising. Honestly, it was quite tiring after a while.

But he wasn’t just doing this ‘telling’ to his audience, he was doing this to himself too. His monologues (sorry, Phil) were not just to tell others how things were (according to Phil, of course). But rather he was reinforcing for himself how the world works and where all the limits were too.

This became truly apparent when he caused a self-fulfilling prophecy and talked himself out of keeping his job through a company restructure.

How so?

Well, Phil had been telling himself on loop that life is unfair, people are all out to get him, and he would never get far in life. And so these negative beliefs were reflected in his attitude, and I’m sure you can figure the rest out from there. When one of those dreaded consultants comes into a company to re-interview you for your position, that consultant is looking for dynamic and resilient go-getters. That consultant is not looking for people who are brow-beaten and “saw this coming” because it’s “just typical”.

So if attitude is the problem then why don’t we all just cheer up?

Because people are almost made entirely of their stories. Well; stories, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus, to be exact.

Human beings are meaning making creatures, and we are lost without our memories and life scripts. The story I’m telling myself about this is that it links back to our egos. Not only must we have these stories, but they must be true. I think we go about life seeking to prove ourselves right all the time, and that’s about keeping the ego happy.

I think it takes one hell of a lot of humility to go against our ego’s child-like need to be omnipotent. But you know what, I think the trip is worth the cost of the ticket.

We grow up authoring our stories about how the world works and who we are as people. Much of this comes from direct experience. So if we had a rough start in life then the chances are that our life scripts are more negative.

When Phil was in his restructure interview, can you imagine the difference if his ego was taken out of the equation? What if he had replaced “she’s going to sack me because that’s just my luck” with “let’s just see how this goes” ? Would that have had a better outcome?

Of course no one can be sure. But at least he wouldn’t have sabotaged his own changes and incited a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Your past need not dictate your future. Go grab a pen and re-write your stories. You are the author of your own script after all.

An Elective Orphan x

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