Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mistaken Assumptions

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, then you know that I believe what trips us up the most are the assumptions we never think to question. I had three examples of that this past week.

One was minor. I had evaluated a manuscript for a client and sent her feedback. When I didn’t hear back from her, my ego immediately assumed she must be unhappy with me. Fortunately, after a couple of days, I sent her an email to make sure she had gotten my feedback and to ask if she had any questions on it. Turned out she had and had sent me an email. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten it nor had she gotten any indication that it had bounced. She wasn't upset with me at all! She felt the feedback was quite useful and we could straighten it all out very quickly.

The experience reminded me not to assume someone was unhappy with me if I didn’t hear from them. (It also reminded me to start switching over to a more reliable email address and at the very least give all clients an alternative—just in case.)

The second experience was last weekend when I gave an all day writing workshop. Now I love giving workshops! I love knowing that I make a difference and can make writing easier and more fun and help fellow writers discover what works best for each of them. So that was great. And I found myself thinking how the first time I gave a workshop I was afraid that people (I assumed that people) would listen and then go, “Duh! Why are you telling us what we already know? That assumption had been very wrong and last weekend reminded me how rarely we value or give sufficient credit to the things we can do because we often assume, well, if we can do it surely so can everyone else. We often assume that if we know something then surely so does everyone else.

The third reminder was when I met with a classmate from high school. Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve never gone to my high school reunions. I was so unhappy back then, so much was going on at home, and I was teased so badly at school that I couldn’t imagine wanting to relive any of it. The thing is that meeting with this classmate let me see how much value it would be to revisit that time in my life NOW, as an adult with all the wisdom and maturity I’ve achieved.

I’d always felt a connection with this particular classmate. I’d felt at the time that he also felt something of a disconnect with many of our classmates. I felt at the time he had courage. He had had the guts to be the only guy in chorus (and in my high school that did take courage). So I expected to enjoy seeing him again. And I did.

What it also did, however, was make me realize that I’d never really gotten to know most of my classmates back then. I also realized that my classmates may have seen me very differently than I thought they did. And I realized that we have all grown and changed and it might be interesting to see who they are now and risk letting them see who I am.

You see, as I talked with my classmate, I shared things with him he’d never known about me and he shared things with me I hadn’t known about him. I began to realize that I’d still had, inside, assumptions I was making about how classmates from my school would perceive me that weren’t true.

We are tripped up, limited, shaped by assumptions we often don’t even realize we have. Every time we stumble over one of them, bring it to the surface, and question/alter it we grow, we break through old barriers, and we gain more freedom in shaping our lives.

What assumptions haven’t you realized were there? Or if you did, haven’t really questioned? What power and freedom might it bring you if you did?

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


jumpinginpuddles said...

interesting how our assumptions are based upon the own lies own brain feeds us. Because of who we are we have often assumed that making friends and people finding out about us would mean no friends, recently two friends we have made up here and come along beside us nurtuturing and supporting, in turn it has taught us never base your opinions on what you might think base them upon what you might actually know.
But more than that just one bad experience doesnt make all others bad, basing our wrongly based assumption of multiple versus friends has made us miss out on so much because of a few bad experiences but taught us also to not harbour all experiences into one box because it does get cluttered.

jumpinginpuddles said...

ive also written one and ive used your blog as a base for what i write i hope you dont mind but what you wrote was really good and i have referenced you in our blog, so if you get new visitors then i hope thats ok :S sorry i didnt ask first

Marj aka Thriver said...

Okay. This is kinda ESP-weird! I was over here commenting a few days ago and I was feeling like my 11/6 post was a real downer and I wanted to post some stuff that I learned about while down at the Dallas trauma program. So, yesterday, I posted this thing called, "From Negative Assumptions to Autonomy." Then I went to JIP's blog and she has a link to this post of yours. WEIRD...but good! ;)

And JIP: One of the things I mentioned in my post is: "It's all based on lies!" Absolutely!

April_optimist said...

Jumping in Puddles and Marj,

I loved both your posts! What wonderful, thoughtful words you shared with everyone who reads your blogs.