Thoughts or Assumptions: What Rules Your Inner Guidance?

Photo by Kevin Dooley on Flickr

Photo by Kevin Dooley on Flickr

To assume is to make an ass out of “u” and “me” — at least that is what my ninth grade math teacher used to say. And to be clear, math was not my favorite subject (except for geometry). I often went into class with assumptions in tow — “this is going to be hard and confusing, math is boring, I wonder if I will be called out to look like an idiot in class” — and they morphed into new assumptions when my initial thoughts did or did not come true. Since the teacher made a habit of walking down the aisles asking questions and putting people on the spot (in a good-natured way), my dread of being “in the math spotlight” was always — looming.

After all these years why do I remember that teacher? Well, besides the math terror, his statement about assumptions always stuck with me. Once I began to explore more of the “inner me” , I noticed just how often I made assumptions about a TON of things. In fact, it was so damn natural, I didn’t even notice.

And…There Goes the Mind

The mind likes to run away with every idea under the sun, jumping from past to future, so it’s easy to make lots of assumptions and build up any number of fears around ideas, feelings or people based on the emotions they invoke within us. We all see how easily this happens when we encounter a certain type of person or situation. All we know is what we have already experienced, so we easily draw on these conclusions to see how we are going to deal with what’s in front of us now.

I did this very thing just the other day. My boyfriend and I were discussing our financial situation and the possibilities of buying a home this year. During the conversation he was a bit short and “to the point” so I assumed it was about me and how I was handling the conversation, or what I would be able to contribute to a home purchase (since he’s got a full time job and I’m self-employed). I started feeling uncomfortable and twitchy, especially when the conversation was focused on facts, and what I really wanted to know how he FELT about approaching a home search.

Come to find out, (a few hours later), he actually had been flustered about a challenge with the home computer network that was a hard to fix, nothing more. I just assumed that due to the timing, his frustration and brevity was actually totally about me. I was instantly reminded (yet again) of the countless other times when I’ve probably done something similar; had an odd interaction and immediately assumed it was about me or something I had said or done. I’ve been mentally aware that I can easily slide into the mud with this perspective, but this particular instance really showed me how easily I assume I may be the cause or contribute to someone else’s emotional state.

Check Yourself Before you Wreck Yourself

That’s why my old math teacher popped into my head as I wrote this blog post. He took a unique approach to teaching a subject with fairly structured rules, asked us to come up with our own conclusions — not to assume the best answer was based on the “rules” of math already drilled in our heads. He wanted us to use our critical thinking and open up to what made sense for the problem at hand, not just regurgitate the expected answers based only on past experience or old patterns.

So my advice is– check yourself before you wreck yourself! (courtesy of rap artist, Ice Cube). If you consistently move through life based on assumptions rather than reviewing your own thoughts and emotional reactions to them, it’s that much easier to get trapped in the mind and build up fear, while creativity quietly slips out the back door for cover.

In what ways do you get stuck in assumptions about people or situations? How about assumptions about what is “good” or “bad” for yourself or others?