Third agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

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“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” – The Four Agreements

“What do you mean, you don’t want my pumpkin pie??” (see below!)

It is very easy to fall into making assumptions. I believe as the change in our communication is happening more rapidly through technology the third agreement, “Don’t make assumptions”, will get harder and harder to implement. Today’s very rapid pace of communication through technology is decreasing the interaction between people and making people instead interact with their own thoughts, so the conversations end up being one-sided. You speaking with you!

When was the last time you looked at Facebook or Instagram and assumed from the pictures there that person was having the time of her/his life, while not knowing their reality?

And have you ever received a text message and thought you knew exactly what it was saying, only to find out that the sender’s intention was quite different?

We are thinking and thinking… What is she doing? What is he doing? What about this? What if?… Every human can think a lot and this may cause worry, fear, and anxiety. From there, we start to create the assumptions and the drama yet we don’t always know where it started.

Yes, we often can assume a lot of information based on our own interpretations, beliefs, moods, or values.

A client of mine was working on managing his relationship with food, but was faced with his mother having given him a “CARE package” after Thanksgiving, with a complete pumpkin pie being the main event along with many other goodies. We had a heartfelt discussion of what food means to my client – and his perception of what it might mean to his mother.

He was afraid to tell her that he would rather not have such a large amount of food all at once, because he thought his mother would feel deeply hurt and not loved.

After looking at the situation together, my client and I agreed he would be open and have a heart-to-heart discussion with his mother. He understood that speaking clearly and openly, instead of making assumptions, would lead to a better result and a closer relationship.

In this and many other life situations, imagine instead of just being in your head, speaking openly and looking and gaining for mutual clarification while getting what you really need. How freeing that is!

Perhaps at times initiating such open conversations may not feel safe but I assure you, you can start with small steps, and you will see how this can transform your life. Here are some suggestions that can help:

  • Find out more information about the situation
  • Don’t expect anyone to read your mind
  • Know that you are also not a mind reader
  • Communicate clearly, openly, and honestly
  • Ask for what you want and need

During your interactions with people this holiday season, be aware of your own thinking. You can truly enjoy not making assumptions, and you will experience the positive results that you create. Of course this principle is not only for the holidays; it applies to your whole life. Honest and open relationships are what make our lives meaningful, and filled with love.

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