You’ve just finished making an extravagant meal for your boyfriend. You’ve put an immense amount of effort into its preparation in anticipation of this planned date night that you scheduled weeks ago. From the careful selection of the ingredients at the market to the detailed presentation and layout of the table, you couldn’t be prouder of the feast and ambiance you’ve created. You wash up, put on your favorite dress and sit with wild anticipation for your lover’s arrival. You look at the clock. Quarter to 5.
Okay. He’ll be here soon.
But those 5 minutes quickly turns to 10, 15, 20…
You pace the floor in your anxiousness as you send him another text message as your attempted voice calls continuously go straight to voicemail.
With each passing minute of his lateness, the dinner grows colder as your emotions take you on a tumultuous ride from annoyance, anger, fear and disappointment. Your mind begins to create castles of ideas of where he could be, what he is thinking, what he is doing…
That good for nothing jerk! He’s ditching me on our date night. I bet he’s off with that woman from the office that I met at their company holiday party. I hated the way she smiled at him! I had a feeling he was up to no good. Wait until he hears what I have to say to him…
The power of your imagination spins out into all kinds of stories and ideas when you hear the door click open. As soon as his eyes meets yours, you explode and unload on him the plethora of accusations and ideas you had formulated in the time you spent waiting for him. When he finally calms you down, he manages to explain the various unfortunate events that lead to his tardiness and lack of communication, from his phone battery dying and his car getting a flat tire on his way home from buying you flowers.
You stand stunned as all the emotional poison you had just casted at him dissolves and is replaced with embarrassment and remorse. Instead of being available to support your boyfriend after a challenging time, you projected fears and insecurities through the habitual pattern of making assumptions, leaving what could’ve been a salvageable date night with some patience and understanding on a sour note.
I imagine we can all think of situations similar to this one, where our imaginations got away from us and instead of being able to receive our loved ones with trust, patience and understanding in what it was that was really happening, we build castles in our minds of what is occurring.
People have the deeply ingrained habit of making assumptions about… well, everything.
Whatever it is that the mind cannot explain, if we are not careful, the mind will try to explain on shear imagination alone.
We bring into our experience thoughts and ideas of what others are doing, what they are thinking, even their opinion of us, without seeking the truth by simply asking questions and acquiring understanding.
The unfortunate power of assumptions is that we begin to believe our thoughts to be true. We can weave and construct grand stories and plots, one assumption leading to another, and ultimately leading us to make conclusions on what it is our mind has constructed.
Often, we blame others from this false, personalized view of situations without gaining a clearer perspective. And this can cause a great deal of drama, sadness and misunderstandings in our lives.
Consider these few tips to practice catching the mind in this troublesome habit and transform your relationships, and your life, for the better.
Skip the Expectations
Often, when we make assumptions of how things will be, we end up looking like the first three letters of the word… an ass!
In making assumptions, we will find ourselves in a trail of unmet needs, both on our account as well as for others.
If we continue to navigate life with expectations, preferences or assumptions on how things should be, we are bound to be always disappointed.
So instead of relating to the unknowns of your life with preconceived notions of how they will play out, can you allow yourself to be open to how they will blossom and open in time?
The thing is, there’s no way to truly determine how things will happen or for what reasons. Can you remain receptive to the grand mystery of it all? Can you come to a place of accepting the world as it is instead of how you’d prefer it to be?
When we learn to calm and silence the mental chatter of our mind constantly adding storylines and projections on what it is we are experiencing, we’ll be left to find a much different version of reality we had previously known.
In this dream we make room for things to be as they are, leading way to deeper clarity and understandings.
Don’t Read Between the Lines
It's not an uncommon occurrence in life to receive others’ words in a way that touches a sensitive chord or wound.
What did my best friend mean when she said that? That thing that guy did rubbed me the wrong way. Why did my mom express it like that?
Instead of guessing the intention behind someone’s words or actions, seek out what they meant when they shared. There’s no need to decipher meaning when we have the ability to communicate our need for understanding.
In my experience, when I have taken this route, I’ve found time and again that no ill intent or will was behind words or actions directed towards me.
As individuals, we all have unique “hot buttons” or sensitivities informed by our experiences that even our closest friends cannot always anticipate. Time and again, we can make the mistake of assuming that our loved ones will and should always know what we’re experiencing and how their words and actions may impact us. This can easily sustain a trend of conflict and misunderstandings with those we supposedly love and cherish the most.
Give others the benefit of the doubt… before diving to the conclusion that their intention was to cause harm or hurt, request clarity from them.
While this may feel like a vulnerable risk, in doing so, you better support your loved ones in understanding your needs in relating and communication while providing you the truth behind their gestures.
By asking questions, we shine light on the truth of any given situation. And in receiving the answers, we release the mind’s preoccupation with needing to explain all if the blanks are filled in with the truth.
In this way, we can completely transform our way of communication and our relationships will no longer needlessly suffer as a result of mistaken assumptions.
Be Courageous. Be bold. Be honest, vulnerable and strong when expressing clearly what it is that you want. Dissolve fear in asking others what it is that they need in order to sidetrack drama, pain and misunderstanding in your relationships.
When we communicate clearly with those in our lives, we leave little room for others to need to guess what it is we’re longing for. Just as when we ask clarifying questions to get to the bottom of what others are seeking from us, we can create greater harmony in our connections by being able to meet their needs.
One of the most common assumptions that leads to conflict in our relating is the misconception that our loved ones should and do know what we need without us having to say what we want. We assume that since they know us so well, they are able to anticipate and predict how to best interact with us and show up for our needs. Due to this belief, we create extensive wounds and hurt when our loved ones interact and treat us in ways contrary to what we want. With this belief, we believe that their intention was to cause harm.
“How could you do that?” We ask. “You should have known better!”
But how could they, if we had not first made a request?
If we continue to navigate our relationships with the expectations that others know what we think without communicating what we want, we are bound to never feel satiated and supported in our connections.
We have the power and control to change this unconscious agreement. We can instead agree that it is in fact safe and skillful, even an expression of our self love and love for others, to be clear and transparent in what we need.
When we shift our method of communication from assumptions and lack of transparency of wants and needs to clear, free of emotional poison dialogue, our relationships, not only with our loved ones, but also with ourselves will transform.
The need to make assumptions dissolves when we can clearly state what it is we and others want. When we become impeccable with our words in this way, we model the worth and priority of our needs. We assert their importance, as well as the significance of our loved ones’ needs.
When we ask clarifying questions and speak to our wants, all are helped to be better supported, honored and seen.
With good, clear communication, you extinguish the flames of conflict in your life.
With this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Though a great deal of our communication skills are programmed and deeply ingrained by our greater society, we do not need to fall victim to these habitual patterns.
First, through raising awareness and consciousness of these patterns, we are able to witness the chaos, destruction and needless suffering they create in our life. And through this witnessing, we are able to reclaim our power.
When we take back the power we place in our beliefs around our own assumptions, we recover this energy to better fuel and nourish all those to whom our lives intersect with.
Then, we begin to see the world as it is, not how we prefer or think it should be. And in this unveiling to truth, we begin to uncover and discover beauties we had not previously seen.
Let go of making assumptions and welcome more freedom in your relationships and life.
This is inspired by one of four rules of life from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements.” Gift yourself this life-changing book.