Keeping My Assumptions in Check: A Cautionary Tale

“Donkey and wall” By Malias – click image for details

You’ve heard the age-old adage:

“Assume and you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me'”

I must confess, I never truly got it until recently.

I recently came out of an interesting situation. It was an association that started off fine and somewhere along the way, based on assumptions on my end and the other person’s end, led to thoughts and emotions that were just plain inaccurate.

In some situations, some people assume the best while others assume the worst; in either case assumptions are not a good idea.

Assumptions are our egos’ way of imposing our own reality on the reality of others.

And this is a big no-no.

Our realities are influenced by our experiences, our thought processes, our fears, our hurt, our hopes, and our own unique way of being and existing.

Key word: “our.”

To think that we can fathom exactly how anyone else thinks is quite arrogant, which makes us an ass.

And these assumptions make us believe things that may not be true about another person — which, depending on our thoughts, make them an ass by either living up to our assumptions or by not living up to them.

Assumptions are dangerous because often there is emotional weight that comes with them, and that emotional weight leaves a residue within us. That residue is like a tarnished spot on your opinion of the other person, a self-imposed tarnish that is completely the onus of the conflict caused by your assumption.

Assumptions cause conflict internally and externally.

Fortunately, the external conflict can dissipate after a while; unfortunately, the internal ones can remain. They can fester and they can lead to more assumptions later.

I hope to eliminate assumptions from my world by implementing the following ideas into all my relationships:

1. Express myself openly, honestly, and repetitively.
“Open and honest communication” has been my motto in my new romantic relationship. This is an idea that should be adapted to all relationships, with one addition: repetition. Communicate with people in your life openly, honestly, and repetitively and actively encourage them to do the same. And remember communication isn’t just what you say, but what you do.

2. Check my ego at the door.
Whenever I find myself thinking a thought about someone else, I should ask myself: “Is this my ego speaking on their behalf?” My ego is not a good proxy for anyone. Whenever it wants to step in and make a judgement call, I will leave it at the door.

3. Ask instead of assuming.
If ever there is conflict or the temptation to assume, I will instead ask. It’s a much easier way to get a true answer.

How do you keep your assumptions in check? Have you ever let them get the best of you? How did you resolve the issue?

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