“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.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
How to Stop Making Assumptions
This is my favorite agreement from the famous Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. We spend so much of our lives trying to figure everything and everyone out. We create lavish stories and it all seems to make sense in our heads. From a creative perspective, we are all truly talented in piecing together “what may be true.” The only problem is that our assumptions are stories that we mistakenly accept as facts. Which then leads to misunderstandings, hurt, and separation from our loved ones and from ourselves.
Why do we do this? Why is it so scary to connect with and ask others instead of assuming? I believe, it is because we make ourselves feel vulnerable and thus unsafe by honestly sharing or looking deeper into another. Because we fear being shamed, we instead create a story around it and even if the story hurts and creates more drama, we prefer it over showing our true feelings and hearing someone else.
Making assumptions is only a habitual way of responding to discomfort and fear. That means we can change it and instead create a new habit. The habit of slowing down enough to communicate, connect, listen, and see what is real.
The truth is assuming is easier than slowing down and talking to someone from your heart. However, assuming leads to stress and drama because we are wrapped up in trying to protect ourselves. As if we are the victims that need to defend ourselves or stay small and insecure.
Here’s how to stop making assumptions and what to focus on instead:
1. Fact Check
We are emotional beings and making assumptions about our loved one’s impacts us on a deep level. Instead of jumping to conclusions stick to the facts. For instance, if a friend didn’t call you back and you begin to assume that she is angry with you because of something else that happened. Take a moment to write out the facts. That means only the things that actually happened and that you can clearly prove. Begin to focus on this instead of the story.
2. Stop Making Assumptions by Slowing Down
Reaction is what happens when you use your emotions and fear to handle a situation. It happens so quickly that you can’t even take a breath to relax first. Responding is about being present and clear. It allows you to feel and think before you say anything.
Assumptions are all about our emotions. We start to assume someone said or did something from an emotional place. A place that is perhaps wounded, sad, or ashamed. I am not saying ignore your feelings! I am saying allow yourself to separate so you can be clear about what really happened before you talk.
Remind yourself that by communicating you are showing strength and courage. It is an act of bravery. Just as it is written in the quote above, communicating instead of assuming leads to transformation. You are not only being true to yourself and your loved ones, you are taking courageous action and being an being the empowered leader in your life.
5. Remind Yourself
See the good in the other person. Bring to your memory a time that was special between you two. See the good in yourself, remember that you are coming from a place of love for yourself so that you can have love and compassion for others.
6. Stop Making Assumptions by Writing it Out
Writing is one of the easiest ways to release the fear and tension around assumptions. Write out what you are assuming and remind yourself that this is YOUR story. Then release it by tearing it up or throwing it away. This creates the space for you to be open to what they have to say.
I deeply believe that communicating instead of assuming puts you in your own power. It allows you to be the leader of your life. Use your courage to clear up situations before you assume and you will remember your own greatness.
Please share stories in the comment section below of times that you choose to communicate instead of assuming. How did it change the situation and change your life?