It is easy to make assumptions. Psychologists say that assumptions come from our brain's tendency to manufacture information. There is nothing wrong about it until we find out that assumptions (mis)lead us to road of confusions. This is proven in many examples, like how rarely we are to ask “Are you okay?” to someone just because we assume that they have a problem-free-life. Let’s say someone posted on Facebook about his moving to a new town, and he assumed that his friends from that town would automatically come and visit him willingly (because that’s what friends are for, right?). But then he got disappointed when they never came to visit. Later on, he did something called ‘filling in the blanks’; instead of proactively reaching out to his friends, he chose to procrastinate on their possible motives, or even to fill his head with self-negative-assumptions – that he is unimportant and, or, unliked.
This actually happens all the time. We fail to acknowledge that our mind and thoughts have their limits. It is as simple as the fact that it is impossible to intrude others’ head to understand what underlies their behaviour. None of us has such kind of ability to understand all the invisible reasons. All we have is an incomplete picture.
As we grow up, we learn that we can only understand from our level of perception (vice versa). Factors to consider: family background, culture, and of course, preference. That is why we need to take further steps in not allowing ourselves to be lost in our own isolating thoughts. Here are some ideas I’d like to share:
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1.Path of Confrontations
The fact that we are not superhumans with mind-reading ability should lead us to a willingness in having a proper discussion and an extra effort to look at problems closely and carefully. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to take this narrow road. Jakarta’s previous governmental election tells us much. Instead of exposing themselves enough to growth by learning the case and have further unbiased-investigations, people tend to only read and pass what they believe could support their unchecked facts. Love and hate do blind us, sometimes.
Trying to apply this point, I pushed myself to confront the things I used to be sceptical about. I once had a bad view about one particular institution. I assumed that they were just a bunch of people who loved to talk inconsiderately about problems in this country. I, however, then encouraged myself to be open for further investigations and eventually found out that most of my assumptions were incorrect. It was a relieving moment of clarity, to be honest. Sometimes I wonder, what if I never took that step of confrontation. Probably, I would still be lost in my assumptions, wandering around blaming everything and everyone.
The point is, we always have a choice. And confrontation, even if the truth can be cold and seems cruel sometimes, is the best road to choose when dealing with our reality as a normal-everyday-human being, with zero mind-reading ability.
But what if, in the end, we find out that our assumptions are fairly correct after all? Well, that is okay. At least we have a valid standpoint to disagree. All we need to do is to take that road less traveled, and let the truth set us free from this biased, falsely-accusing set of perception.
Without making any proper dialogues, it is almost impossible to understand someone’s reason and stop making assumptions. But then, it does not mean dialogue is like a magic trick that automatically enables us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.
Considering the fill-in-the-blank mechanism, I struggled to rationalize people’s choice. At times I could be very hard on myself, found myself lost everytime I try to make sense of people’s behaviors that are simply far from what I believe is proper, or true.
But one day, wisdom came to power the lightbulb in my head, “No one was asking for your opinion, isn’t it?” It was one of those moments when I realize that even God Himself instructed us, specifically, to not judge and condemn others. That we are not obliged to understand every mystery in human’s heart. We are all simply required to love. To respect.
The word “respect” is like precious gold these days. Hard to find, high of value. Especially in the age when privacy has been cruelly invaded by the social media. It is the very thing that sustains humanity from falling apart, due to our nature to be indvidually unique. So in cultural standpoint, respect is what enables us to live in harmony. With ourselves and others. It would help our tendencies to interfere or judge others simply by reminding ourselves with: “I believe they have a good reasons behind such decision. Even if they don’t, I am still going to give respect that they deserve.”
When we are heavily caught up in a series of assumptions toward others, we are neglecting the truth of what we are and the world that surrounds us: the fact that people, including us, make mistakes from time to time. The simple way to prevent this is by changing our language from a statement to a question, which implies possibility.
Rather than saying,‘I wasn’t invited because I am unlikeable,’ we could ask ourselves with, ‘Why wasn’t I invited to this event?’ That leads us to multiple possibilities and gives us more control to explore how we could improve and fix it in the future. This tip should also be applied to how we think of others as well. Being open to possibilities is necessary since we are completely aware humans are complex and might be very unpredictable.
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4.What Productivity Does to Our Soul
Not so long time ago, I got really surprised when found out some people questioned and made assumptions about some decisions I made. When it land on my ear, the very first respond that came out from my mouth was: “Wow! So much free times you have.”
Flashback to my year of being jobless, I was a negative person myself. The stress of having to wait idlely made me lose my healthy way of thinking. Living unproductive was a one way ticket to my personal train of thought towards negativity.
The point is when we have a lot of free time, we tend to seek unnecessary things to think about. That is why if we want to stop being lost in our negative thoughts we should channel our energy and emotions to do something productive, like doing our passion, reading a book, watching a show or a movie, going for a walk, writing something, and talking to our friends with positives vibes. Worth a shot!
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5.Pure From Within
Point one to four will not automatically stop us from the habit of making assumptions all the time. We will still get lost in our thoughts—which are mostly worse than what really is—if deep down we are still holding on to toxicities. I strongly believe that no matter how skillful people are at pretending, what comes out of them is what they truly keep in their heart. The bible says in Luke 6:45, ‘A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart’.
Therefore, if we really want to stop being lost in our judgment and assumptions, we need to continously clean our mind and heart. Plus, maybe we can practically start by doing what Apostle Paul once suggested: ‘...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admireable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.’
Assumptions can ruin our relationships and we can practice ourselves to stop making them by asking God to purify our sinful thoughts day by day while we also make an effort to wisely pick what we want to think and keep in our mind.