How many good relationships could be saved, how many bad relationships could be avoided, how many mistakes could be prevented if we did only one thing, and one thing only – if we communicated instead of assuming things. Every bad decision that was made was made because we assumed certain things to be true without verifying if it is actually the case. We often rely on certain assumptions when make decisions – assuming certain people care about us in certain way (or not), assuming certain people would support us or relying on any information that comes from our assumptions and based on our previous experience, even if the two situations are not really similar.
We wrap our fears in excuses about not doing things and call them assumptions about the way the world works.
-Why don’t you write a book?
-Because I do know anyone in publishing – only publisher’s friends can get their books published, and that is why so much low quality books are being sold today- someone might respond, who masks his fears in excuses that do sound like assumptions to some people, but in reality are nothing but a barrier created to excuse his laziness and lack of action (and if you do not believe me, I googled it and found 295,000,000 results on how to publish your book, including resources, tips and advice for self-publishing your book. Just for the sake of this example).
When we wake up we assume that when we get to work our manager would treat us the same way he treated us yesterday because of the person we assume him/her to be. When we communicate with people we assume to be our friends, we assume that they will be on our side when things happen, even if they have to make a choice. When we make vacation plans, we assume that the weather will be great in our destination of choice, that we will still have a job when we get back so that we can pay our bills, and many other things. When we communicate with our parents we assume they will always take our side and apologize when they are wrong because this is how we assume parents should behave.
In a movie, you can always see the “bad guy” or whether someone is cheating on someone because the camera captures all the clues – the looks, the evidence, and the details. However, if we are placed in a similar situation in our actual life, we become blind and instead of being more aware we sometimes rely too much on our assumptions about the way the world works because this is how we used to live our life, based on assumptions that our parents had about the world, or maybe the assumptions of our friends. Whatever the case is, if you want to make better decisions, avoid relationships that just waste time and have a life that makes sense to you, rely less on assumptions and be aware most of the time.
Think about the movie “Limitless” – imagine you are someone else and look at your life, your decisions, your relationships from the third person point of view, without assuming things, just facts. Maybe one day you will realize where you are making mistakes and you will see life for what it really is.
I can go on and on but the truth is – sometimes we can avoid bad decisions by communicating, instead of assuming. By asking questions if we are not sure. By checking the facts and reaching out to consultants, if needed. By finding the right person to answer our questions, and making sure that when we ask questions, we mean the same thing as the person who answers these questions.This applies not only to relationships, but also to careers, finances, life choices – pretty much everything. By observing and noticing and analyzing all signs instead of assuming things. I do not advocate for mistrusting anyone and judging everyone you see. However, being aware at all times can sometimes save a life. We need to learn to stop assuming things, or we do assume, we need to be honest with ourselves and list all assumptions and verify them before making a decision.
For almost every assumption we have – there is at least one case where someone did exactly what we assume to be impossible, ineffective or silly – there are people who have done it and who became happier (and/or more successful) for doing it. We assume that current university programs are not helpful in helping young students find a job – but how about the case of a blind and deaf woman who (before she became blind) was practicing psychology and counseling, and after she lost her sight she is “only” working as an actress and a writer? We assume that to become an Olympic athlete we need to do nothing but practice since young childhood, but how about a woman who has no legs or hands who has participated in Paralympics and who climbed mountains without her prosthetic legs, won gold for skiing and now is participating in sailing competition in Florida (oh yeah, she also has MBA and works as a consultant)? Our assumptions are nothing but the limits and barriers we create for ourselves.
We need to free ourselves from assumptions. We need to stop assuming that some higher power will always come and save us. We need to stop assuming that if we do nothing today and tomorrow, we will continue being successful because of what we did yesterday. Things that were true yesterday may no longer be the case tomorrow as the world changes faster than we think, faster than we can adapt to it. So stop assuming and start doing things.