“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
I love The Four Agreements for many reasons. The insight to assumptions is spot on. We are all guilty of assuming things. Small things that we blow off and not so small things that we blow out of proportion. We are taught from the time we are young to assume. A baby cries at night, we feed the baby a bottle. It’s only natural for that baby to “assume” that he or she will be fed when they cry because they are hungry. But babies cry a lot, and not just because they’re hungry. But we “assume” many times that they are. Baby cries out of boredom, parent wonders, “hmmmm, I just fed them an hour ago, maybe they’re growing and need more”. We enter school and get instantly hit with the math problems. “If Johnny has 2 eggs and Lisa has 3 eggs, how many eggs do they have all together”? The answer would be five when we’re in grade school. But set foot into middle school and all of a sudden we’re forced to realize that it’s a distinct possibility that Lisa could have eaten one of those eggs because she was famished due to PMS, bringing the total down to 4. Fast forward to high school and you’re in class with the hottest cheerleader in school. She leans over to ask for help on her homework, and the quiet bookworm guy gushes, thinking he has a chance. Assumption at its finest.
Texting has enabled assumptions to spread like wild fire. Read a text in your own “state of mind”. You can read a text and make all kinds of speculations as to what the other person means. Take the simple text: Is there anything for dinner? Now, that statement will make all kinds of threatening feelings depending on the person it’s coming from/to. If it’s from your husband, you might think, “oh no, he’s pissed I haven’t made dinner the last 2 days”. Your picky son: “he’s starving and needs to eat as soon as he gets home”. Your daughter: “she’s having a bad day and needs to carb load her emotions”. You see, there are several ways to interpret a simple text. Oh and then there’s YOU and your own feelings for that day. “What the hell do they mean, I ALWAYS make dinner, and I’m tired of it”.
Now these are just some small examples, there are millions more. “I assumed when he called me, he liked me”. I assumed when they showed up late, they are sending a signal that we aren’t important enough to show up on time for”. “I assumed when I was sick, you would take care of me the way I took care of you when YOU were sick”. You see what I’m saying? Assumptions are made on a daily if not hourly basis. Miguel is absolutely right, we make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions. To be fair, we aren’t always in the position to ask those questions. They might make us uncomfortable to ask. “Does she like me”? “Do you have a problem with me and decide you need to show me instead of tell me”? The list goes on and on. So many questions go unanswered, because we fear what we might hear. We may even judge and jury the hell out of a completely innocent act, but we’ll never know the true reason unless we ask.
I don’t see an end to the insanity. To all the madness that surrounds presumption and conjecture. We will, until the end of time take our own feelings into account and think that we understand who, what, when, where and why somebody did or said what they did or said. It’s inevitable. It will never change.
At least that’s what I assume.