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9 Reasons Why Making Assumptions is Dangerous

“When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME”

I first heard these words of wisdom years ago when I was learning to drive. I’d made an assumption about what another driver was going to do. My driving instructor’s response told me my assumption was incorrect. He hit the brakes, and said those words. At the time, I didn’t fully understand what he meant, but thought it was intriguing enough to commit to memory.

These days, I get it. 

 

Why assumptions start

It’s easy to make assumptions. All you need is incomplete information about a situation. And an unwillingness to ask the questions you need to complete the information. In the absence of complete information, you have to fill in the blanks yourself.

You fill in the blanks with YOUR interpretation of what you see or hear. Your interpretation comes from past experiences that seem similar. It comes from your past experiences, and also from those you’ve heard about from others.

Armed with your information, you connect dots that aren’t there. You can’t help doing this because you’re missing relevant information. In trying to make sense of the situation, you make connections between today and the past. Connections that don’t really exist. You jump to conclusions that are wrong.

When I was learning to drive, I saw a driver doing something, and assumed he’d do x next. He didn’t. He did y instead, making it likely I was going to hit him. Hence my instructor’s brake-hitting. Had I scanned what was around me for more information, I’d have seen x wasn’t possible. He had to do y. 

 

How assumptions develop

If assumptions are incorrect when dealing with rational matters, ponder this. What happens when emotions come into play?

All hell breaks loose. You see, emotions arrive with many sensitive buttons. These buttons are the places where you got hurt in the past. Your memory has stored this past pain. And activates it whenever your nervous system recognizes anything that feels painfully familiar.

Once activated, you react as if you’re experiencing that same pain again. Your old pain feels as real today as it did when you got hurt. Your present situation doesn’t even need to be the same as the past one that hurt you.

When those emotional buttons get pressed, the resulting dot-connecting is rarely kind. The assumptions you make in this state have one thing in mind. Lashing out in some way. To repel or hurt someone with unkind and disrespectful words presented as fact. 

 

What assumptions do

Behind these harsh words lie the original hurt. And an unwillingness to step up and own your part in it.

This is toxic for the people you’re lashing out at, and for you. The negative energy expressed with this can take a toll on health. Theirs and yours. And by pressing your pain buttons again and again, you deepen your hurt.

 

Why you should avoid making assumptions like the plague

  1. They’re an easy out. The path of least resistance is also the path of least growth.
  2. They stop you from taking responsibility for your life. Assumptions allow you to hide behind your version of the story. This means you don’t own your part in the true story. You prefer to blame others for your misfortune, rather than look in the mirror.
  3. They keep you stuck in the past. Assumptions rely on old information to fill in blanks and connect dots. Instead of expanding your horizons, you retreat into the past. Into your painful past.
  4. It’s lazy behaviour. Instead of asking questions to get the information you need, you jump to conclusions.
  5. They foster a negative mindset. Most assumptions are derived from old, painful information. This reinforces your innate negativity bias that dates back to prehistoric times. And keeps you thinking the world is a fundamentally hostile place.
  6. It’s toxic behaviour. To protect yourself from more hurt, you use your assumptions to lash out at others. This is bad for them, and you.
  7. They become a bad habit. The more you make assumptions, the easier it is to continue making them. You find it easier to relive past hurts to get missing information than to ask questions. Go figure!
  8. They deepen your pain. The more you pick at a sore, the more painful it gets. And it doesn’t get a chance to heal.
  9. Assumptions are ALWAYS wrong. I have a perfect record with the assumptions I’ve made. 100% of them have been wrong. And it’s hard to believe that I’m unique in this.

Life beyond assumptions

These days, instead of making assumptions, I ask questions. Lots of them. Even if this means finding out a truth that might be painful to hear. If my default behaviour kicks in and I start to assume something, I notice it. And nip it in the bud.

Since I started asking questions and stopped making assumptions, I’m much happier. I’ve managed to release much of my past pain by not activating it constantly. I’ve grown a lot from all the information I’ve gathered through asking questions. I enjoy conversations more because I’m not worrying about protecting myself. I’ve deepened my compassion for others by understanding the fears that lay behind their assumptions. I’m more positive. I’m more fun to be around.

If you think you’re pretty assumption-free, try this. Make a note of every assumption you make during an average day. And double it to count the ones you don’t notice.

If you’re like me, you’ll be surprised by the result.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

love-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blick

What would love do here?

Here, in this moment?

Love would…
 

💖  Seek to understand, not to judge.

💖  Put itself in the shoes of others, knowing that there, but for the grace of god, go I.

💖  Look people in the eyes, and smile.

💖  Respond, not react. Love doesn’t take things personally.

💖  Only help those who ask for it, and not those who don’t.

💖  Be respectful of all people, not just those in your tribe.

💖  Ask questions, and not assume anything.

💖  Keep an open mind in every situation.

💖  Put the well-being of yourself and others above all else.

💖  Allow you to be yourself, and not the person you think others want you to be.

💖  Have its own view of what success looks like, and not society’s.

💖  Be compassionate. All the time. With everyone (you included).

💖  Be present in every action, in every thought.

💖  Make you resilient to life’s challenges.

💖  Nourish you, and not beat you up.

💖  Love fearlessly.

💖  Live in the present. Savouring everything. Expecting nothing.

💖  Learn from the past, but not dwell in it.

💖  Aim for the future with goals, plans, and action, but not fantasize about it.

💖  Know your life’s true purpose, what makes your heart sing.

💖  Spend every moment consciously, according to your priorities. Love knows that otherwise, you’re living according to someone else’s priorities.

💖  Accept your emotions fully. All of them.

💖  Never waste time on things that don’t bring you closer to your life’s purpose.

💖  Allow you to be, and not try to control you.

💖  Be grateful for everything you have, not resentful of what you don’t have.

💖  Encourage you to know yourself and why you’re here, and not to be a cog in a machine.

💖  Receive help and kindness as readily as you give it. Love knows you cannot give unconditionally unless you know how to receive.

💖  Let go of things from the past that no longer serve you, like old anger, old resentment, old fears.

💖  Be open to new experiences, all the time.

💖  Express your emotions fully, in the moment you feel them… or as soon as possible after, if you’re not in a safe place at that time.

💖  Know what’s yours to do, and not do.

💖  Love unconditionally.

💖  Seek shared solutions, and not compromise.

💖  Forgive. Yourself and others.

💖  Be of service to others, but without any self-sacrifice.

💖  Lead with the heart, not the mind. The heart knows how to share, giving the mind all tasks it does better. The mind keeps everything for itself.

 
•  •  •
If love were here, in this moment, what would it do?

Love would love, and not fear.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).