Why We Often Choose to Make Assumptions

The third agreement of Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements is: Don’t make assumptions.

Last time, we went over the importance of this practice. Let’s dive into why, as humans, we usually tend to make assumptions.

Why do we do it?

If you don’t ask questions, you can comfortably continue with your illusions. If you don’t ask your friend why they don’t call, you can just assume they worked late, had homework, or had something come up. You don’t ever have to look at it critically, and you don’t have to possibly be told that your friend just doesn’t like you anymore because you rarely do what your friend likes to do.

Ruiz writes, “We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”

But sometimes the questions you need to ask to avoid making assumptions are questions you would benefit from asking yourself. Questions like, “Am I really being a good friend, or are we always doing what I want to do?”

So, instead of having a potentially difficult conversation with your friend that involves self-examination and vulnerability, you choose to live in a fantasy world, making excuses for why your friendship is fading into non-existence. That may feel safe for the time being, but years later, when you ask yourself why you have gone through a string of friends who just seem to fade away, leaving you alone and lonely, well… maybe it would have been better to have those difficult conversations and ask those difficult questions.

And those difficult questions can be painful, especially if you have fallen prey to saying mean and judgmental things about yourself.

Remember what we learned from the first agreement?

Be impeccable with your word. That means to be positive with your words. Be uplifting with your words. Use them in a positive direction to build, not in a negative direction that only brings hurt. Well, you are supposed to be uplifting in the words you use toward yourself, too. Are you saying cruel and abusive things to yourself about yourself?

Remember what we learned from the second agreement?

Don’t take things personally. When you take things personally, you assume that someone is talking badly about you, or does not like you because they seem grumpy or out of sorts, you are destined to be hurt. Most of us spend more time thinking about ourselves than about others. When you take things personally, you are assuming that your friend thinks about you enough to be able to automatically know how you feel and what you think will lead to misunderstandings and hurt. Your friend truly cannot read your mind. And you cannot read your friend’s mind.

Think about times when you were just certain that you knew what someone would say. How often were you really accurate? Check it out. Ask your friend, partner, or someone you trust what they are thinking. Were you accurate? If probability holds, you might be accurate 50% of the time. But the other 50% you will be wrong and may be setting yourself up to be hurt.

Don’t try to read minds. Ask questions. Don’t assume. Only by practicing this can you avoid the war of control that can leave you feeling hollow and alone.