Your Parents Were Right About Assuming

“To assume is to make an ass out of you and me” is a quote you probably heard at some point in your childhood. It may have been annoying at the time, maybe you rolled your eyes at the bothersome adult who spewed this statement, but think about how much assumption affects your life today. Conjecture of any kind changes the way you respond to people and circumstances outside of your control. If you are insecure or unsure about where you stand, it is easy to fall back on assumption or judgment in order to feel protected or safe.

Every issue, belief, attitude or assumption is precisely the issue that stands between you and your relationship to another human being; and between you and yourself.

As human beings we all have preferences. We have definitions of moral standards, acceptable behaviors, and ideas about how others should behave. We form these ideas based on the combination of the opinions of those we look to for guidance and our own life experiences. Once a conception is internalized, it is easy to become rigid. At this point we begin to form assumptions based on certain traits. The danger is being so rigid in these assumptions that there is no possibility of connecting with people who fall into certain categories.

If it is your priority to connect with as many people as possible, it is critical to look at your assumptions. It’s not that you will let go of presumptions completely, the challenge is to recognize and manage them. Your initial judgment of someone does not have to dictate whether you pursue a relationship. Sometimes you’re wrong. Some suggestions to manage assumptions effectively include:

  • Be aware of harsh judgments you have
  • Ask yourself if this an opinion you have taken on from the people you are around
  • Think about what people may assume about you
  • When you assume something about another person, consider what you may be afraid of
  • Make it a priority to practice patience with others, everyone has a story

Cynical people will always find evidence to reinforce their negative perceptions. If you are pessimistic or disillusioned, you will operate under assumptions all of the time. You don’t have to live that way. If you feel lonely, afraid, or paranoid, letting go of assumptions is a good place to start the journey of re-connection.