You probably make more assumptions more than you realise. That statement alone is an assumption, though it holds true for the average person.
We all do it. Someone doesn’t return a text, so you think that something is wrong or that you have upset them. Or, someone asks if they can have a chat and immediately you get nervous thinking that you’ve done something wrong or that they have some bad news. Or, you’re cut off while driving or someone pushes in while you’re lining up and you start thinking they are rude.
But, what if something else was really happening for the other person? What if they weren’t just being rude but had a good reason behind their behavour? Maybe instead of pushing in, they made an honest mistake by not realising that you were lining up. Or, the person who cut you off while you were driving was rushing to hospital to see a family member. Would you forgive them and be more compassionate if they had a reasonable explanation? Probably.
Getting caught up in an assumption can also cause you much more worry and anxiety than needed, and generally it’s all for something that may in fact be completely untrue.
A lot of the time, jumping to conclusions creates negative outcomes, both for you and the other person involved.
We often carry stories about other people, their motives and their behaviours. And again, a lot of the time these stories are negative and untrue.
However, when you catch yourself making an assumption, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the anxiety or needless worry while also increasing compassion towards the other person. These same steps can also be used to reduce unhelpful anger that is caused from an assumption.
How to check your assumptions:
Stop and take a breath.
Ask yourself these questions:
What is the assumption I am making?
Is this based on evidence (eg. have you checked) or is it just my thoughts and perception of this event?
Then, list 3 other possibilities for what is happening.
Finally and when possible, check in with the other person involved.
Challenge for this week: check your assumptions. Every time you catch yourself making an assumption think of 3 other reasons or possibilities.
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