Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Just Say No to Assumptions

Don't make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ~Miguel Angel Ruiz

Have you ever assumed something that wasn't true?  Maybe you assumed someone was mad at you, or didn't like you, because they didn't speak to you.  Maybe you went out of your way to help a friend and they didn't respond in the way you wanted, so you assumed they didn't care about you, or that they didn't love you.  Maybe you assumed something about someone else based on what you heard about them.  I've made the mistake of assuming things quite a few times in the past, only to find out later that my assumptions were totally wrong.  When we assume things, we create our own reality based on what we think and how we feel, not necessarily on what is true.  Assuming things can be dangerous and it can cause undo stress and conflict, especially when you react in a negative way based on those assumptions.

How many times have you heard something negative about someone and assumed it was true?  This is another area where assumptions can be dangerous and harmful.  I recall one occasion where a person was telling a story about a situation with some people I knew personally.  Not only was this person telling me their version of the story, but they were telling it to a room full of people.  The story being told was painting a very negative picture of these people.  As I stood there listening to this, I could actually feel myself getting angry because the people being accused were not there to defend themselves.  My sense of wanting to defend them rose up and I spoke out against what this person was saying.  Instead of just assuming that what was being said was true, I later asked the person who was being talked about if there were any truth to what had been said about them.  They told me they never said or did what they had been accused of.  As a matter of fact, they broke down crying because it hurt them so bad to know that someone was saying such unkind, untrue things about them, especially in front of a room full of people.  I knew this person well enough to know that they would tell me the truth, even if they had done what they had been accused of.  Thankfully, in this situation, I didn't just assume what was being said was the truth.

It's best not to make assumptions, or jump to conclusions, in situations where we don't know all the facts.  Don't just assume someone knows how you feel.  It's more likely that they don't have a clue.  We make a huge mistake when we do this.  No one knows how we feel unless we share that with them.

I've learned that the majority of the time, the people we make the assumptions about didn't even know there was a problem.  Many times people have stressful situations going on in their own life and they do not intentionally ignore us.  They may be feeling overwhelmed because of things going on.  I've had that happen to me where I was not intentionally ignoring someone, but that's what they assumed.  At that time I had so much stress in my life and I felt like I was ready to have a melt down.  Sometimes we also assume that just because we would handle something a certain way that we think everyone else should be able to handle it that way. We all handle things differently.  My way is not going to be the same way someone else does things.

Here are some alternatives you can use instead of assuming:  Instead of assuming something you've heard about someone to be true, why not go and talk to that person?  Instead of assuming someone is mad at you because they didn't speak to you, or respond in the way you wanted, why not seek them out and talk with them?  Instead of assuming someone doesn't care because they aren't treating you the way you would like, why not give them the benefit of the doubt and talk to them about how you feel.  It would save us so much confusion, conflict, and drama if we would kick those assumptions to the curb!

I will leave you with a quote by Henry Winkler (Fonzie from Happy Days, for those of us old enough to remember that show): "Assumptions are the termites of relationships."  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

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