Don’t Make Assumptions

By Diane

How and where do we make assumptions in our lives? Ahh – let me name a few examples you may be able to relate to:

  • We assume we know an answer so we do not ask the question.
  • We assume we know the result so we do not even try.
  • We assume what other people are thinking and we take it personally.
  • We assume something to be true and do not seek out our own truth.

We make assumptions to explain things to ourselves. We make assumptions because we do not have the courage to ask the questions. We make assumptions because somehow we believe people should know automatically how we feel, what we are thinking or why we are acting a certain way.

  • Making assumptions leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication.
  • Making assumptions often allows us to cast blame on others.
  • Making assumptions enables us to be the victim.

I am vividly aware of how I make assumptions in my own life. My daughter just graduated college and is now in LA, started a new job and in the first months of her new adult life. Every piece of me wants a constant up date, to hear about her job, to know how she is doing, how is the commute….. Mostly I just want my own fears for her to be squelched by her telling me everyday that everything is okay!

However – my daughter is on a communication hiatus. And of course my mind decides to run wild with all sorts of crazy assumptions: She is upset with me for something I did. She is in some kind of trouble and avoiding talking about it. She is really unhappy and does not want to share that with me. I could write a paragraph about the things that are going through my mind.   All of these assumptions are swirling and spinning in my head everyday creating a lot of chaos, some raw emotions and making me mad that she does not WANT to speak with me (another assumption.)

So – Mom (Me) – text her and ASK!

I did. She is fine. She is overwhelmed. She is processing a lot right now and just needs to do that on her own. She loves me. She will call soon when things calm down.

Making assumptions is a quick process – we do often and unknowingly. It is a habit of our poor communication and usually comes from a place self-doubt, fear, guilt, jealousy and a myriad of other emotions that get us caught up in our monkey mind of “assumption chatter.”

How do we break the assumption habit?

  • Have the courage to ask questions. If something is not clear – ask for it to be clarified. If you do not understand someone’s behavior or communication, ask them to clarify.
  • Be willing to express your desires and needs. This is what I need – are you able to deliver that? Everyone has a right to ask for what they need and everyone has a right to determine if they can deliver on the request or not.
  • LISTEN, truly listen to what others are saying.
  • Be clear, authentic and forthright in all your communications.

Don’t Make Assumptions is the third agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book the Four Agreements. He writes about this agreement saying,

“With clear communication, all of your relationships will change, not only with your partner, but with everyone else. You won’t need to make assumptions because everything becomes so clear. This is what I want: this is what you want. If we communicate in this way, our word becomes impeccable. If all humans could communicate in this way, with impeccability of the word, there would be no wars, no violence, no misunderstandings. All human problems would be resolved if we could just have good, clear communication.”

Perhaps this seems a simplification of our complex world. In my own life how this practice has allowed me to create deeper and more fulfilling relationships. It begins in our relationships with those closest to us and then expands to our friends, our colleagues and communities. It is a practice, a practice that can create change and lead us closer to living our lives fully and truly alive.