We all make assumptions as we go through our day. They help us to make sense of situations when we have an incomplete set of information. We are filling in the blanks with our interpretation of the situation and they can help us feel safe.
In reality, when you assume something, you’re telling yourself it’s true when you don’t have the evidence to back it up. Before you know it, you can easily fall into the trap of accepting things as facts and never question them.
Your assumptions are created based on your personal experience, learning from others, or from your upbringing. You use the information collected, to connect up the dots that aren’t there and jump to conclusions. Assumptions linked to negative emotions will re-open old wounds and lead to you feeling bad. You can’t control what others think, but you assume you know what they are thinking.
What assumptions do you make about yourself?
Assumptions often hide in places where you feel stuck:
- It’s difficult to lose weight (or give up smoking, or drinking, or whatever)
- I didn’t get the job because you I’m not good enough
- People are selfish by nature, so I don’t trust anyone
- My partner is quiet, they must be mad at me
- My best friend asked Jane to the party, therefore they don’t like me anymore
Why you should avoid making assumptions
- Assumptions can create black and white thinking where there are no shades of grey.
- They can damage your relationships and your ability to build meaningful ones. If you assume you know how others feel, you stop listening.
- Assumptions stop you from taking responsibility and allow you to hide behind your version of an event or a situation. This can then lead to you blaming others rather than recognising the role you played.
- When you assume, you jump to conclusions. These can create a negative mindset and the feeling that you are surrounded by hostility.
- Making assumptions becomes a bad habit and will deepen your pain, the more you pick at it, the more it hurts.
Become aware of the assumptions you make
Start by writing down the assumptions you make (you may be shocked at the number you make). Seeing them written down will help you put them into context.
Even if the truth is painful, it’s better to know, than to believe a fictional view of a situation.
Try asking some of these questions:
- What facts do I have about this?
- Is this my opinion, or someone else’s?
- What is a more realistic view?
- Is this what I want to think?
- What would it be like if the opposite were true?
Notice the assumptions you make and decide if they are useful or whether it’s time to let them go. Letting go of old assumptions will open up space for useful understanding and help you to move forward.
“We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.” Don Miguel Ruiz