Self fulfilling prophecies can be one of the most harmful ruts we can get into as human beings. Now, there are different things that can lead us into that situation, but ultimately almost nothing good comes from that situation.
One of the most common ways we can find ourselves in a self-fulfilling prophecy is keeping the peace. Here’s what I mean. Sometimes we are in a situation that we like. Maybe it is a job that gives us some flexibility. Or a partner we really like. Now, that situation isn’t perfect – there’s a mean streak in the partner we don’t like. Or the boss likes to hit on us in a slick way periodically. Now, when we sit and weigh things out, we decide to keep the peace, by just managing that stuff we don’t like in order to keep the stuff we do like. Now you might say, what’s wrong with that? Nothing really – except for when fear, especially that of a negative outcome, is what motivates the person to “keep the peace”.
For example, I had an ex who based on a previous relationship where arguing was commonplace, decided to keep the peace between us seemingly at all costs. She would always get mad whenever I chose not to go along with that approach – especially when I called her on her stuff. Anytime we had a discussion and something was said that she didn’t really like (no matter what my delivery was), she would give this cold feet/hands-off response and drop the subject. All this would do was annoy me further because she was putting a vibe out there that having a difference of opinion would instantly lead to an argument. Or worse, that my perspective didn’t matter – all that counted was moving on to the next topic.
So what was so bad about that? Well, she was trying to avoid a negative situation by keeping the peace. But, due to the fear of arguments, unnecessary tension was created. The truth is that such efforts to keep the peace can devalue the other person, especially when you back it up with making safe decisions. Safe + the illusion of peace driven by fear can lead to stagnation.
The key thing with any fear is to address it upfront because the more it festers, the stronger it gets. It is always harder to handle because is that the greatest irony of being human is that we like a solid mix of change and peace. We really don’t grow without being under some stress. Science has shown that stress and fear when managed correctly can be very healthy. It often gives us the opportunity to step back and decide if what we’re doing is worth it or if we need to go in a different direction.
So is it always worth it to keep the peace? It boils down to whether what you’re protecting at all costs isn’t something you cannot lose. If you realize the more you fight to keep something by not doing anything and you still lose it anyways, you’ve got to ask:
Was it my approach? Or was it something ultimately not worth keeping the peace for?