“We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
— Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom)
Assumptions. The death of a perfectly good day.
Have you thought about how assumptions could be the root of your daily bad moods? Remove them from your life and watch how quickly you feel better.
What is an assumption anyway? A look, a comment, a physical gesture occurs between two people and then there it is, the assumption – a meaning ascribed to the look, comment, or gesture.
And why do we make assumptions? Ruiz suggests that we do not have to courage to ask a question.
Think about it. A friend walks by and looks upset. You assume the friend is mad at you. You walk in another direction. A boss ignores your email and you assume the boss has it out for you. And forget about the amount of assumptions we make with our families – it is endless.
Your day is moving along nicely. Let’s start with the simple fact that you are up, dressed, and on your way to do something productive. That is already a step in the right direction. You are minding your own business, attempting to wrap your brain around the tasks in front of you, when someone else ruins our day.
Ruiz offers the best solution to rid yourself of this awful control that others have over your mood: stop making assumptions.
I know, it sounded strange to me, too. How can I live my life without assumptions? I mean as a human we make small assumptions all the time, right? Reading facial gestures are part of life. Isn’t it?
Ruiz’s point is that we are afraid to ask a question, and I believe we are. But it is not the question that is concerning, it is the assumption that comes before the question.
Emotional Workout: Assumption Cleanse
I decided to give it a try. One week – no assumptions. My emotional workout was:
- Notice all my assumptions. (And that was a wake up call – I was making about 1000 an hour.)
- Pause. Drop my assumption.
- Think of a question or an alternative view.
I am chatting with a friend and she says, “Where were you yesterday? I tried to call and you did not get back to me.”
My assumption is that my friend is mad at me. I become defensive, guilty, or flustered, or all three. With all my assumptions that my friend is mad, I begin to unravel. I cannot ask a question because I already believe there is going to be a conflict. She is mad. And I am resentful.
However, without the assumption that my friend is mad, my ability to ask a question increases.
New version of the same moment.
My friend asks the question. I drop my assumption. I say, “I was busy, sorry. Is everything ok?” I can ask a question because I am not assuming a problem, until my friend tells me there is one.
Perhaps my friend is upset. Perhaps she says, “ Oh, well, I was just surprised you did not get back to me.” Again, without an assumption, I can say, “why?” If she is upset, she has to tell me. If she does not tell me, I will not assume an issue.
The same goes for a boss or a family member.
If you boss does not email back. The assumptions pile up quickly. “My boss hates me. My boss favors another employee.” Maybe you even begin to think, “ I should get a new job.”
Meanwhile, your boss is getting a divorce. It is ugly and she is falling behind on her work. You never know what is happening with other people.
Trying to assume is the same as believing you are a mindreader. Let go of assumptions for one hour – it will change your life; it changed mine.
Want to feel amazing, lighter, more emotionally fit? Try an assumption free diet for a week! Let me know how it goes. Love to hear comments your comments. Email me:[email protected]