Keep your faithful one from presumption as well so that my faults never control me. Then I will be blameless and innocent of a grave error. ~ Psalm 19:13
It’s happened to all of us, we’ve made an assumption about someone or something and it’s gotten us in a mess of trouble. Who knew that even the Bible tips us off to this little piece of wisdom – don’t assume (or presume, it’s the same thing… some versions use “proud thoughts” which is also pretty much the same thing).
An assumption is a judgment we make about something or someone that we believe to be true without necessarily having any corroborating evidence. And we make assumptions about everything! Whether we try to or not, we are champion assumers. For example, did you know that in the first 7 seconds we see someone we make 11 judgments about them? We assume certain things about that person based on what they are wearing, what their expression is, their age, weight, skin color, tattoos, manner of speaking and probably more. Then our imaginations go to work and in a short period of time we can create a whole little fantasy about that person. I’m right, aren’t I? We do this all the time, without even recognizing it.
So why, as the Psalm says, will making assumptions cause my faults to control me? Here’s a little snippet from “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz:
The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking – we take it personally – then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems.
“Emotional poison” is pretty strong language, but I think it fits. We may get angry, say things that we regret, or act inn an unkind way toward someone all based off of a set of assumptions we have in our heads. They did this… so they don’t understand me… they don’t care about me… they know I don’t like that… they did it on purpose… blah, blah, blah.We react out of this drama that we’ve made up in our heads! When we make assumptions, our faults – temper, prejudice, fears, expectations – tend to override common sense and control us.
Wethern’s Law: Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.
Why is this important spiritually? Because our spirituality is everything we are body-mind-spirit. When one part is out of sync, the others will be, too. Our hope and goal is to live in harmony with God, ourselves and others. Assumptions take us far from this harmony.
Don Ruiz suggests that the way to stop making assumptions is to ask questions, to make sure communication is clear and that we understand everything another person is trying to tell us. Have the courage to ask the questions until everything is clear. How many times do we stop asking questions because we’re afraid of sounding stupid?
Here’s another suggestion. I was watching an Anthony DeMello video and he suggested that when we have interactions with other people, especially ones that difficult, that we step out of ourselves and observe how we are acting. Not to beat ourselves up, or pat ourselves on the back, but just to attempt an objective look at how we behave. Can we step out of the intensity of the moment, the feelings, the anxiety to see how we respond… are we making assumptions, are we getting defensive, are we shutting down, are we helping or hurting the situation? Ideally, then, we would adjust our mode of communicating to one that is more kind and seeks understanding. Hence, avoiding the assumption trap again.
I know it isn’t easy. It may even be impossible. But perhaps with some awareness we’ll get better and save ourselves from those “grave errors”!
Peace ~ Kaye