Make No Assumptions

Make No Assumptions

So a couple of weeks ago, I reviewed a book, The Four agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz on my platform on Tell here. In the book, the author advocates a code of conduct based on four major agreements which he believes that if everyone adopts, we would be able to improve our relationship with ourselves, with people around us and allow ourselves to live truly and freely. 

But what struck me was the agreement tagged, ‘Make no assumptions”, so I decided to write an article on it. My favorite excerpt in the book reads like this:  

We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking — we take it personally — then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.

The truth is as human beings, we can’t help but assume things- about ourselves, about the people around us. You are constantly thinking about what they are thinking and interpreting their actions or expressions to fit with our own version of reality. The funniest thing is that it is so easy to make assumptions. All you need is incomplete information- an incomplete sentence, a facial expression that rubs you wrong, anything at all and an inability to ask questions. Then you fill in the blanks by coming up with your own interpretation of what you see and hear. 

“Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering.”

You need to be able to ask questions or discuss your feelings rather than make assumptions about things you have no business assuming. I call that being the judge, jury and executioner. You single handedly assume someone did you wrong, you determine their guilt in your head without giving them an opportunity to speak and then go ahead to ignore them. We make assumptions and interpret such assumptions to suit our perspective and in turn, something really simple becomes so complex and complicated. 

Another mistake we make is to make assumptions in our romantic relationships. For instance, if you are in a romantic relationship, you may work under the assumption that your partner knows what you are thinking. Rather than discuss with your partner about your stand on certain salient issues like-sex before marriage, the kind of gifts you like, how you want to be treated, you just assume that your partner should know. The problem with that is you are assuming that your partner knows what you are thinking at every point and you don’t have to express your thoughts in words. Then, if they don’t do what you expect, you feel hurt and say, “You should have known”. How? 

Making assumptions leads to fights and misconceptions, so avoid assumptions whenever you can. I know it is difficult, but make it a conscious habit. When you feel hurt or angry by what someone said or their expression while saying it, ask for clarification. Say what you feel and ask questions, don’t ask and answer them in your head even if it will bring you to a reality you are unwilling to face.. You will feel better. 

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