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.

Intimacy and Connection

“My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don’t really know me.”
~ Gary Shandling

When most people hear the word intimacy they conjure up images of adults in “adult situations.” Because of the sexual connotation of the word intimacy, it can be difficult to engage someone in a conversation on this topic without becoming at least mildly uncomfortable. So let’s start by clarifying what I’m talking about when I refer to intimacy. I like to define intimacy as:

closeness and familiarity; closeness that comes as a result of having the courage to be completely engaged and connected

But how do we become completely engaged and connected in a relationship? It starts with a better understanding of ourselves.
Many people today have grown up in families with varying degrees of dysfunction. Whether due to alcoholism, drug addiction, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or sheer coldness, many of us have been exposed to factors that have left us in a state of self-protection. In spite of these factors, many people are able to let go of their pasts and move forward in their lives by building close and intimate relationships firmly rooted in trust and love.
They are able to do this by realizing that they are not slaves to their family’s behavioral patterns or genetic pre-dispositions. Although these patterns and predispositions clearly have an effect on an individual’s behavior, they are not the only determining factors. They get to a point of finding their own definitions of success and happiness and begin surrounding themselves with people who support them in their decisions. Once you let go of your past, you too, will be able to identify the differences between what is a negative pattern or predisposition and what you want in the here and now.

Here are some simple things you can do to improve the level of intimacy in all your relationships:

  • Clarify your definition of happiness. Don’t borrow someone else’s, find your own
  • Write down the significant relationships in your life and determine whether they support this definition of happiness
  • If you decide a relationship doesn’t support you, deduce what changes you can make to alter the nature of the relationship

Remember that the level of intimacy in your life is predicated on your willingness to be open. A fear of intimacy is often created by circumstances out of your control, but you can seek help to resolve these issues whenever you choose. Intimacy and connection go hand in hand. As you become more open, the joy and happiness you experience will increase exponentially.

Lessons From Modern Technology


So I was having one of those mornings. The kind where a series of events unfold that challenge your ability to stay peaceful and serene. You know, those times you shouldn’t be permitted to interact with other humans. Allow me to explain:

This week, after months of diligent research and the purposeful delay of gratification, I purchased a MacBook Pro. This was a wise purchase, by the way, the computer is awesome. However, there have been some hiccups along the way.

First of all, the package holding my new prized possession arrived on Wednesday. I had eagerly tracked the shipment and expected its prompt delivery. U.P.S. is the best. As I excitedly unwrapped my newest instrument of technology, visions of new found creativity ran through my head. I couldn’t wait to connect the old computer to the new one and unleash the power I knew this beast of a machine would deliver. What I didn’t anticipate was…… a different size FireWire oulet.

Seriously, my long awaited date with my BRAND NEW COMPUTER was being delayed by having the wrong size cord (insert your own joke here)! “Oh well, what’s another day,” I said to myself.

The next day, yesterday, I drove to the local Apple Store with complete confidence that they would have the precise cord I needed. After all, they had always stocked any product I was in search of in the past. I love that store. Much to my chagrin, they were out of the 6-9 FireWire cable. This was a travesty. The young lady at the Apple Store was kind enough to recommend a couple of electronic stores who may carry the cord I sought. After three more stops, the cord was mine!

Yesterday afternoon I began the process of information transferal. With my brand new, right sized cord I began. I was proud of my patience, it’s usually difficult for me to temper my excitement. After a few hours the transfer, registration, and other odds and ends, were complete. My speedy computer journey had begun!

Alas, this morning my entry into the world of technological superiority received a severe blow. The machine operated slower than my first IBM word processor. It did not respond to anything. In my annoyance, frustration, and disappointment, I called on my knight in shining armor, my wife Wendy. Any sophisticated technological issue I have ever had, she has been able to solve. Wendy is much brighter than me. As she patiently called Apple customer service, I paced the room like an expectant father outside of  a delivery room. To relieve my angst, I picked up my guitar to strum for a minute, a little creative stress relief. Of course, the guitar was horribly out of tune. As I turned the keys to bring the strings to their optimum pitch, the high E string snapped. IT SNAPPED. All I wanted was five minutes of mindless relaxation after a severe bout of disappointment and helplessness, but the six year old, overly stretched, and under-used high E string had the AUDACITY to snap. Unbelievable.

Wendy knows me very well. She saw me gently (yeah right) place the guitar on its stand and get up. She then gave me a look. I immediately took a breath and calmed down. It wasn’t a look of anger or an expression of fear. It was simply an understanding, “Dude your being an idiot” kind of a look.She knows me very well and I was able to quickly recognize what I was doing and change my behavior.

I learned a lot from this entire situation. Here are a few of the more valuable lessons:

  • the MacBook Pro is awesome and worth the wait
  • U.P.S. kicks serious a**
  • when I build up too much expectation and get overly excited I set myself up to react negatively
  • my wife knows how immature I really am and what a tool I can be
  • it is really important to let the people in my life know me well because my wife isn’t always there

From the simplest situations come the greatest lessons. It is fun to see the areas of my life in which I need improvement. I am grateful to have relationships with people who are as interested in loving their lives as I am. It leads to a lot of excitement and many good times.

Photo Credit : CCBImages via Flickr (although the photo kind of looks like me, it isn’t me)

It Begins With You

“Love life and life will love you back. Love people and they will love you back.” ~Arthur Rubinstein

Are you in a lot of conflict right now? Does it seem like you’re swimming against the current?Do you feel resistance to your dreams and desires?

There are times when we all feel this way. To me these feelings are indicators of a lack of compassion and connection. When you are compassionate, there is a flow to life. Even if things aren’t going exactly the way you believe it should, you are able to find acceptance. We spend so much time focused on the performance and behavior of others that we forget a better world starts with me.

A sense of connection is vital to success. In order to connect with people we must find common ground on which to relate. When the common ground is discovered as a result of compassion the relationship has a much better chance to flourish. Some simple ways to remain aware of your level of compassion are:

  • Do you look for similarities or differences between you and others?
  • Are you able to find opportunities to allow your experiences to benefit people with whom you come in contact?
  • How often do you follow inspirations to perform acts of service?

There is no better time to love than right now. Circumstances and people respond to the energy generated by you. Pay attention, be present, and take advantage of the opportunities to make your world a better place.

The Moment is What Matters

Yesterday was my daughter’s tenth birthday. It was a wonderful day and a true celebration of the wonderful relationships our family has. Ten years is a long time. Many things change and evolve. If you remember to pay attention, your gratitude grows exponentially.

I remember throughout my wife’s pregnancy the wise words many parents shared with me about the importance of staying present mentally and emotionally. The advice they shared was invaluable and has reminded me how quickly time passes if you don’t pay attention. Blink and it’s gone, is a statement we have all heard. Because of this awareness, I decided long ago to be conscious of putting my family first.

Nothing is more important than our connections. We are defined by our relationships. Our relationships reflect our internal condition. The deeper we connect with people the fuller our lives become. Particularly our relationships with our partners and children.

Your kids don’t care about your professional accomplishments and your partner wants to connect with you. Two things your children and your partner have in common is their desire to be close to you and their need to be involved in your life. It is too easy to justify isolation with the word “responsibility.” Work, grow, and accomplish. These are important and admirable things to do. First and foremost pay attention to those who rely on the connection they have with you. Be present and don’t miss any moments. This is where true success, happiness, and accomplishment lives.

Realizing What’s Important

An Old CoupleI love anything that changes my perspective. Sometimes that change comes from reading a great story or article. A perspective change can come from a great movie. We can be moved by a conversation with someone whom we respect. Most often this change comes as a result of a strong connection with a person we love.

We often spend so much time making plans that we forget to experience what is happening right now. Our life. No matter what goals we set, regrets we hold on to, or resentments we allow to fester the fact is that the moment in which we truly exist is now. Am I going to use this moment to be afraid of who or what may be coming? Or will I use it to remember what really matters to me? Here are some simple perspective changers:

You Will Die: No matter how much denial we attempt to build, this is inevitable. Once this fact is accepted I am left with a simple choice. Will I fearfully wait for this moment to arrive or will I use this awareness to experience as much of life as possible.

They Don’t Care: Those who you spend your time resenting and trying to hurt forgot about you a long long time ago. I have learned this lesson over and over again. I somehow convince myself that I am that important and that whatever it was that hurt me had an equal impact on the life of whoever caused my pain. The bottom line is that if I hurt, it is because I choose to hold on. I always have the option to let go and move on with my life.

Your Kids Don’t Care How Hard Your Day Was: Nor should they. They love you. They want and deserve your undivided attention. When you leave the office, call, or appointment leave it behind you.

Your Spouse Doesn’t Know How You Feel Unless You Say It: Say I love you because uttering the three most powerful words in our language makes you feel good. Don’t take for granted that your partner just “knows” how you feel. They don’t. Show them and tell them.

Perspective is a choice. Although difficult and painful experiences provide perspective change there are other ways. We all have our idea of what a loving and caring person would look like. The most effective way to change one’s perspective is to be that person.