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March 2, 2016

What Happens When We Stop Assuming & Start Communicating.

jazbeck/flickr

If there is one thing that has constantly wreaked havoc in my life, it would be my habit of assuming something was true without proof.

To believe something without proof is the classic definition of the word, “assume.”

My worst habit is assuming people think the way I do or will behave in certain ways.

I assumed that my wives or girlfriends would feel the same way about me as I felt about them. I assumed that if I did something for someone else, they would return the favor. I assumed that if I lived by a certain code, I could not be hurt and I would never worry.

(I know what you’re thinking. “Dude, that’s obviously so not true, it’s time for a Gibbs slap to the back of your head.”)

I assumed that everyone else played by the same rules I did.

Some of the hardest lessons I have had to learn involved the destruction of my assumptions about life and my recognition that life does not care what I believe about it.

In college, I worked one summer selling Bibles door to door. Don’t laugh, the reason I chose this job was the promise of big money. I assumed I would not get homesick or frustrated, and that I would sell a lot of Bibles.

Once again, I didn’t think something through. Even before the self-improvement industry got cranked up, I can remember one of the sayings from the training class I had to go through before I was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It was, “When you assume something, you are making an “ass” out of ‘”you” and “me.””

There are some other words for “assume” that bring this problem into focus.

Judgement, naiveté, immaturity and drama come to mind.

We assume something is true, because we didn’t check it out. If we get challenged, we automatically defend ourselves, and drama ensues.

Why do we assume things without research?

We assume for two reasons: laziness and naiveté. I usually go by the rule, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

In terms of human relationships, this is a doomed perspective.

How often do we assume things are true even when we have no reason to believe them? Is it a gut-check thing?

A reccurring meme running through my head says, “Trust your intuition.”

I don’t always listen to it. Recently, I broke up with someone I loved very much. I had assumed that she thought I was as special as I thought she was. Even after all of my friends told me she was using me, I assumed that I could change her mind or heart.

(You can insert an audible eye roll here, I earned it.)

As you can image, it didn’t end very well. The universe has a painful and costly way of waking us up to the truth. Or at least this truth felt painful, and it was tangibly costly.

Take out a notepad and list all of the things you assume to be true without proof.

I think you will be amazed at how many things we assume.

We assume our government is motivated to protect our liberties and equality. We assume that the legal system is fair. We assume that our water is safe to drink and vaccinations won’t harm us. We assume that most people will treat us as we would treat them. We assume that if we take the right workshop our soulmate will appear. We assume that our doctor would not prescribe unneeded medication for money. We assume the people we love, love us back in the same way.

The list would probably be long and depressing.

So, what can we do about this?

Ask questions.

It is far better to ask questions about something we don’t know than to assume that something is true. This is especially true in relationships.

How often do we get into trouble because we assume the other person agrees with us on certain issues or feels the same way that we do, only to find out it isn’t true?

We have to start communicating.

Sometimes we don’t ask the hard questions because we are afraid of the answers, or we are afraid we will be judged by the other person.

When we assume something, we are often lying to ourselves because we want our fantasies to be true. We don’t want to know the truth, so we assume people know what we want and we assume that we know what others want.

So, we don’t communicate, and we suffer.

When we don’t assume things and start communicating with others, we eliminate confusion, fear and misunderstanding.

We can be more authentic when we explain ourselves and find out what others are thinking. No matter how psychic we believe we are, we can’t know what someone else is thinking.

Don’t assume anyone has your best interests at heart, especially if they want your money. Don’t assume that your family is doing well just because there hasn’t been any drama recently.

Assumption is the opposite of communication. It is best to communicate.

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Relephant:

Assumptions Ruin Relationships.

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Author: James Robinson

Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith / Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: jazbeck/Flickr

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