Are You Living Out Your Doctor’s Expectation?

Do you believe you will remain in pain, then die?
When you got your diagnosis, did they ask you if you wanted pain meds because that is all they could do?
Did a healthcare professional said there’s no hope – there is nothing that you can do?
Were you told you were only going to get worse and then die?
woman holding head

For decades I have even seen people die when the doctor tells them they will.
The bottom line, do you believe that you will always be in pain?

Auntie Mame, I believe, said it best,
“Live! Live! Live! Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death.”

Are you falling into circular thinking? Exit your prison

I will always hurt because I always hurt now. Do you know this is the self-fulfilling prophecy or expectation trap?

How do expectations of pain get in our way?

And why are those people starving to death in the Auntie Mame quote? The reason they’re starving to death is that they’re missing abundance. They don’t even perceive the food at the banquet. Many people are stuck living out a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, they have a chronic, incurable condition, so they look and think about only the worse. Thus reaching for the limits of what they can see and believe. The doctor says the shot will hurt – it does.

How can we exit this circular thinking?

a BW sign
End the expectation or self-fulfilling prophecy trap and take back our power?

We have to start seeing the abundant banquet. See beyond our condition. When we envision a new pain-free life.

What is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

A way to think about a self-fulfilling prophecy is to compare it to an online grocery store. As a kid, I rode my bike to a store where the selection was limited. Often if you wanted something, you’d be stuck choosing between only two options if you were lucky!

Now, look at grocery stores; they have everything and more! We can get paper goods, fresh-cut flowers, ready-made dinners, pre-made foods. We are choosing from hundreds of different brands and options for nearly every product. If we want organic fruits and vegetables, no worries, we can get them delivered to our door. It does not matter if it is sushi, kombucha, or wine.

so many goodies

Online stores encourage impulse buying. They’re, in fact, designed to spur us to crave purchases we didn’t even realize we desired.

Research shows our consciousness is likely in our frontal lobe. Yet we live out of the unconscious mostly, which makes it possible to drive a car daily without relearning. Studies say between 80%-90% of our actions are unconscious. So when we enter the store, we scan for items we recognize. We aren’t looking for new treats because we don’t even know they exist yet!

We perceive what we expect

The same is true for anything we’re doing. It applies to any relationship and interaction we have. This same truth applies to anywhere we go and any experience we have. We look for sameness, the items we recognize, and the familiar.

perceptionBut we have to ask ourselves why. Why does this limited perception happen?

ALFRED ADLER IDENTIFIED APPERCEPTIONS


Before neuroscience showed all the ways we are programmed to become how we are, Alfred Adler identified that we had a particular “lifestyle.” Each person’s lifestyle was determined by “apperceptions” he specified.

Adler created two types of apperceptions: empowering and limiting.

Empowering apperceptions is “I believe I can do X, Y, and Z.”
Limiting apperceptions is “I’m not smart enough, not fast enough, etc., to do A, B, and C.”

Notice – what is your go-to thought

HOW WE CAN CHOOSE SOMETHING NEW?

orange circlesOur banquet or grocery store stories illustrate part of our neurology.

We don’t choose something new when we don’t understand it exists. We can not select new experiences because we don’t realize they’re available to us.

We limit ourselves.

Alfred Adler said we all have limiting beliefs that define the limits of our positive thoughts and positive skills. These beliefs determine the actions we take.

CONFIRMATION BIAS

When our actions come from beliefs, the world confirms precisely the way we act. Confirmation bias jumps in. We get into circular thinking of expecting something to happen; thus, it does. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, where we operate and the world constantly reinforces our beliefs, even if they aren’t correct or even accurate.

It is easy to see with social media; our Facebook feeds are different.

When you believe you can not do it you can’t

For example, if I believe I’m not strong enough to deal with a situation, I will not be able to. People around me will expect me to have problems. And as confirmation, I will perhaps allow myself to fall apart. As others treat me like I’m weak, it reinforces my belief that nothing can change. The expectation of pain and the self-fulfilling prophecy cycle wins.

If we’re lucky and our families, bosses, friends, and partners don’t buy into our limiting belief if they see beyond what we’re putting out and challenge us instead of accepting our view. Through that challenge, we discover we can change.

Our expectations and limiting beliefs do not lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, begin to internalize the belief that we are actually worthy of the life we want.

End that voice

girl looking up

End the Voice That Says “I will be in pain.” “I will only get worse.”
We don’t need to wait for our family, boss, friends, or lover to change our beliefs and end our circular thinking, the self-fulfilling prophecy. We can notice them and end them ourselves right away.

One of the first ways to end our beliefs on our own is by assessing our internal monologue.

The endless loops of thinking, the same thoughts.

What are some of those statements (those not said aloud)?

????
grren beans carrots turketThe pain always worse after dinner.
I knew I couldn’t move.
This pain always happens to me.
I knew this wasn’t going to do my exercises today.
I’m terrible when it rains.
I always hurt when Monday comes.

Those statements – thoughts are reinforcers of our pain beliefs—they prophesy what we can’t do. They limit our life. We experience what and when certain things happen when we expect them to happen. The old saying is so true “We can’t do it because we believe we can’t.”

These beliefs cause us to feel like failure, mistakes, and missteps happen. They stand out to us and reinforce our pain beliefs. Rather than learning from any situation and moving forward, we throw our hands up in the air and say, “I can’t.”

If we want to exit those self-fulfilling prophecies, we need to end the search for evidence to reinforces those pain beliefs.

How can we find contrary proof that those beliefs are wrong?
How can we identify when a situation goes better than expected?
Where or when we do something different or find a learning opportunity amidst the challenge?

Change your expectation.

outside exerciseWe can expect positive events rather than predicting, in fact, expecting the negative. When we expect the pain to lessen, our prophecies still come true, but they’re propelling us forward instead of back.

One way to reinforce new beliefs is to start hanging out with and surrounding ourselves with those who see us differently. Find support people who challenge us because they believe we can heal. They think differently about us. They help us end interactions and patterns that no longer serve us. Start seeking out those people who push you toward your healed self.

I GET TO CHANGE MY THOUGHTS

We can also call ourselves on our circular thinking. Change by saying, “I notice I’m about to think and act as I’ve always done. This time, I’m going to choose – I decide to change what I’m doing. This time, I’m going to experience the situation through a different lens.”

you can do itDon’t believe those new views on your pain-free life? That’s okay. You can imagine yourself to health. In business circles, people say “fake it ’till you make it.”

You are reframing your situation and looking for proof to reinforce those new thoughts and beliefs. Look for the latest products in the grocery store. Don’t grab what you always have and leave. There are better healthy options.

Even when we imagine a pain-free life or “fake it” or take a different path, just by doing that, we influence our world. Like a mirror, others see us and will reflect and reinforce our new perception.

When you feel self-doubt, that you can change, you’re in good company. There is absolutely no one who doesn’t have limiting beliefs. Even the most confident and self-assured person still has limiting beliefs. And anyone who claims they don’t, or even believe they don’t actually are incorrect, is a lifelong process to transform the unconscious.

Admitting your stories, vulnerabilities and insecurities is the first step to stopping your self-fulfilling prophecy cycle.

Are you in Charge of Your Perception and Pain-free Life?

If we want to change our inner beliefs about ourselves, we must realize we’re each the creator of our own life. We can choose from infinite possibilities.

Do we keep going in the same neural pathways like going to the same online store, buying the same items, but missing out on the banquet?

mind is flexible mirrorReading all the self-help books in the world won’t change us unless we notice how we talk to ourselves.

Do you affirm your gratitude?
Do you tell yourself you are healing?
Do you look at failures as times to learn?
Do you acknowledge when noticing your thought patterns?
Do you stretch yourself to grow?
Daily do you learn what works in relieving your unproductive thoughts?
Do you look forward to the insights you have on changing your beliefs?

little changes

 

This list needs to include new actions to take. Each person’s plan is unique.

We may feel defensive or disheartened at first. Those who are constantly defending assumptions are living in their self-fulfilling prophecy—not allowing themselves the opportunity to learn and grow from experiences.

As you notice and then listen to your self-talk, a recording can help or even writing it out. Substituting other thoughts and words that affirm yourself helps.

Seek evidence your new pain-free belief is true. Surround yourself with people who support you to explore your assumptions, beliefs and boundaries. Then challenge your assumptions and beliefs.

Friends become allies when they help us exit our unconscious loops. They can assist us in becoming aware of the expectations we have. And the self-fulfilling prophecy trap we may be stuck in.

Get a Coach

volleyball playThis profound change is like training for the Olympics. Those athletes are supported and given shortcuts by coaches and other athletes. Those people notice what is difficult for the athletes themselves to detect. They’ll expect as much from you as they expect from themselves. This kind of support is necessary if you want to live a pain-free life.

Are you ready to exit your circular thinking of self-fulfilling prophecies?

Take a focused look at your self-talk and deep beliefs.

Ask yourself when you walk into the banquet or peruse choices at the grocery store, are you trying all the new and exciting possibilities before you?

ENJOY THE BANQUET!!!

What you can do is take a proactive approach and control the way you handle what others say. 

Share your thoughts and suggestions. 

References

Eisma MC, Schut HA, Stroebe MS, Boelen PA, van den Bout J, Stroebe W. Adaptive and maladaptive rumination after loss: A three-wave longitudinal study. Br J Clin Psychol. 2015 Jun;54(2):163-80. doi: 10.1111/bjc.12067. Epub 2014 Sep 17. PMID: 25229192.

Eisma MC, Stroebe MS, Schut HA, Stroebe W, Boelen PA, van den Bout J. Avoidance processes mediate the relationship between rumination and symptoms of complicated grief and depression following loss. J Abnorm Psychol. 2013 Nov;122(4):961-70. doi: 10.1037/a0034051. PMID: 24364599.

Felin T, Koenderink J, Krueger JI. Rationality, perception, and the all-seeing eye. Psychon Bull Rev. 2017 Aug;24(4):1040-1059. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1198-z. PMID: 27928763; PMCID: PMC5570804.

Kahan D.M. The expressive rationality of inaccurate perceptions. Behav Brain Sci. 2017 Jan;40:e6. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X15002332. PMID: 28327216.

Kuo SC, Sun JL, Tang ST. Trajectories of depressive symptoms for bereaved family members of chronically ill patients: a systematic review. J Clin Nurs. 2017 Dec;26(23-24):3784-3799. doi: 10.1111/jocn.13720. Epub 2017 Feb 23. PMID: 28042919.

Neimeyer RA, Pitcho-Prelorentzos S, Mahat-Shamir M. “If only…”: Counterfactual thinking in bereavement. Death Stud. 2019 Oct 25:1-10. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2019.1679959. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 31650908.

Petrovic NM, Milovanovic DR, Ignjatovic Ristic D, Riznic N, Ristic B, Stepanovic Z. Factors associated with severe postoperative pain in patients with total hip arthroplasty. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2014;48(6):615-22. doi: 10.3944/AOTT.2014.14.0177. PMID: 25637724.

Stroebe M, Boelen PA, van den Hout M, Stroebe W, Salemink E, van den Bout J. Ruminative coping as avoidance: a reinterpretation of its function in adjustment to bereavement. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2007 Dec;257(8):462-72. doi: 10.1007/s00406-007-0746-y. PMID: 17629726.

Vahldieck C, Lindig M, Nau C, Hüppe M. Hohe Schmerzerwartung und Beeinträchtigung durch vorbestehende Schmerzen sind Risikofaktoren für hohe postoperative Schmerzen : Ergebnisse einer Untersuchung mit dem Lübecker „Schmerzrisiko-Fragebogen“ [High pain expectation and impairment from pre-existing pain are risk factors for severe postoperative pain : Results of a study using the Lübeck Pain Risk Questionnaire]. Anaesthesist. 2018 Oct;67(10):745-757. German. doi: 10.1007/s00101-018-0479-5. Epub 2018 Aug 13. PMID: 30105517.

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