How To Stop Making An *ss Out Of You And Me. Or, Rather, How To Stop Making Assumptions.

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving holiday? I did! But post-holiday? Hmm…not so much. Unfortunately, I was sick all last week, stuck in bed with a monster cold that made me very sleepy and Kleenex very rich. 

And I watched more corny Lifetime movies than I care to admit, not to mention Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) re-runs. For some reason, either Law & Order or Law & Order SVU seems to be my go-to show whenever I’m sick. (Maybe it’s that darn ‘Dun Dun’ sound effect, I don’t know…)

In one episode of Law & Order SVU I watched last week, one of the detectives, Detective Stabler, assumed that a friend of his son’s was doing drugs and was responsible for his son’s disappearance – all because he had used drugs in the past. 

Seems reasonable, but Detective Stabler ultimately learned he was wrong. His son’s friend had been clean for months, and he had nothing to do with his son’s disappearance. At the end of the show, the detective’s son returned home in one piece and I went back to my Kleenex and vitamin C. 

But this got me thinking about assumptions…

You know what they say…when you make an assumption, you make an *ss out of you and me. 

It’s human nature to make assumptions. Every one of us has probably done so at one point or another in our lives – and probably more than once. But here’s the thing about assumptions…

They’re often wrong. In fact, I feel quite comfortable saying that they’re probably almost always wrong.

Because we often base our assumptions on incomplete data that we accept at face value. When we lack information on someone or something, we tend to fill in the gaps with stories rather than truths. And, voila, we have assumptions. And, unfortunately, we then often have judgments. 

How to stop making an *ss out of you and me. Or, in other words, how to stop making assumptions. 

  • When tempted to assume, question instead. Be willing to question your own assumptions. Ask yourself, “How do I know that this assumption is true? What evidence do I have to back it up?” Furthermore, ask yourself, “Why do I need to make this assumption? What’s in it for me to do so?” (Yes, there’s something in it for you to do so…)
  • Widen your perspectiveOften, we make assumptions based on our own life experiences and on the prism through which we see life. Widen your world. Learn about people, experiences, things…whatever…that fall outside of what you know. A wider world equals a wider perspective, which equals fewer assumptions. (For example, I read a couple of wonderful books on individuals with Autism – which helped me to better understand them rather than judge them.)
  • When tempted to assume, assume the best and not the worst (unless dealing with an axe murderer or the like). As a sometimes negativity-based society, we can tend to jump to the worst conclusion rather than to the best. Challenge yourself to go against the negativity grain and assume the best about someone or something instead of the worst. 

Now it’s your turn! Share with me in the comments below: 

1. Tell me about a time when you felt like someone made an assumption about you that wasn’t correct. 

2. What advice do you have for the Be Yourself community on how to avoid making assumptions? 

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