One of the best books I ever read was ‘’The Four Agreements’’ and one of the agreements the author asked us to make with ourselves is that we should never make assumptions. We should be clear with other people about what we want and how we feel, and ask questions to be clear about what other people want or when we do not understand something. We should not fill in the missing pieces with our own ideas of what we believe is happening or what other people are doing or thinking. Assuming causes us a lot of strife and I think it is something we constantly engage in. I know I catch myself doing it quite often and one of the things that strikes me about these moments is the negative state of mind it has the potential to create.
There are many instances where we end up making assumptions and it seems that one of the most problematic instances is where we assume that other people know what we want. This can be a problem in all types of relationships, particularly close relationships – romantic ones especially! These people know us so well and based on this knowledge, we think that they will always know what we want, what we would want them to do in a situation, what we would want them to say. When they do not act accordingly, we get angry, annoyed or frustrated. We think that they must have known what we wanted and they purposely did not deliver in the way we wanted. Hey, maybe in some cases, that is exactly what happened, but in most instances, they probably had no idea. Try not to assume and talk about it. Other people cannot be inside our heads, they can never truly know what we are thinking no matter how well they seem to know us.
When we really think about it, it sounds crazy that we expect people to essentially be psychic and read our minds but we do it all the time! The next time you find yourself getting angry at someone for doing or not doing something, think about whether or not you have ever actually talked to the person about how you feel about the situation. For example, maybe you are the one who has ended up preparing dinner every night and you are annoyed that your partner has never offered to help you or take over a few nights a week. In your head, you are assuming that he must know that you would want help and he is purposely not offering it. Who would want to cook dinner every night? He must know this. But, he may have no idea that you feel this way. You both have seemed to settle into taking on certain roles in the house and that is one of yours; maybe he does the dishes every night. Instead of simmering with anger every time you bust out the cutting board, talk about it. Tell him what you want.
If you bring this idea into your awareness, you will be amazed at how often you find yourself in a negative state of mind due to assuming that other people know what you want. This is something I have really been paying attention to and it is something that we do A LOT. It causes us a lot of suffering both internally in our minds and externally in our dealings with other people. The next time you find yourself getting angry with someone, examine if assumptions are playing a role in your feelings. If they are, put your feelings out in the open. Tell the other person how you feel and what you want. This could be an uncomfortable situation sometimes, but I think it is preferable to the continued strife we feel from expecting people to read our minds.
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