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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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Assumptions, Assumptions…

May 1, 2012 2 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

{image credit :: less cake and more frosting}

I was in the darkened parking garage the other morning after running an early morning errand. I was getting ready to back out of the spot where I was tucked away, when I suddenly noticed in my rearview mirror a man walking incredibly slowly behind me. He looked to be in his forties, short with dark brown hair. Impatient and running late to work, I sense myself getting irritated with this man. Soon, I was downright angry. How long can it take to walk to your car, buddy, I fumed. I think you’re just doing this to piss me off.

Once the man had laboriously made his way to his car and out of my path, I pulled my car out and looked over at the man trying to get into the driver’s seat. Illuminated by my headlights, I could see that the man had only one leg. The other was a prosthetic, and he walked with a cane, hobbling along and apparently exerting great effort

I felt like a complete jerk.

You know that phrase, “You know what you get when you assume? You make an ass out of u and me,” I always chuckle at that. Until I’m the ass.

My heart sank both for the struggle that he had to endure in doing something as simple as walking across the garage and that I could be so insensitive.

As I was driving home – still feeling relatively crappy – I started to think about all of the assumptions that we make about people. For the man in the garage, the situation was a bit more extreme than the usual encounter: I assumed he could walk normally, and in fact he couldn’t. I also assumed that he was trying to make me late for work, and in fact he was simply trying to make his way past an impatient driver.

But I started to think of all the ways in which we make assumptions about those around us, and don’t have the fortune to be corrected. We might assume that our friend who just bailed on dinner had something better come along and didn’t even care about our feelings and why are we even friends with her anyway since she always does this kind of thing… Humph! Or we assume that our boss overlooked us for the promotion because she’s just always been jealous of us and probably is just threatened by how good we are at our job and really needs to work on her insecurity anyway.

It’s amazing the way that our minds fill in the blanks. Our brains don’t particularly like uncertainty, so it’s like we have to make that go away by creating the truth for ourselves. Assumptions are propositions that are, to some degree, taken for granted. We make an assumption so that we might be able to make a decision, usually.

If the guy at the next table at the restaurant is looking at us, we can assume that a.) we have marinara sauce on our shirt, b.) he really likes the look of our chocolate torte, or c.) he finds us attractive. Our assumption here will make guide us in making a decision; namely, running to the bathroom for cold water or smiling back at him.

With all of these assumptions and decisions that we make, you would think that we would be develop some pretty stellar mind-reading skills. In fact, though, we often fail to account for all of the factors involved. Our perceptions of what others are thinking, doing, or feeling, is so heavily veiled by our own thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that it’s hard to make accurate assessments.

I find this important to remember in moments of high intensity, particularly when I’m feeling angry, frustrated, or hurt by someone. I recognize that I rarely know the full story, and that the only way to know the truth is to… you guessed it – ask them!

In the meantime, or when asking is not an option, I try to stay as open minded as possible. And from now on I’ll try to practice patience in parking lots as well.

What kind of assumptions do you find yourself making about others?

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2 Comments

  1. Gisselle
    2 years ago

    There are actually a lot of assumptions I have in my life even before and this post you have really realizes me a lot of things..
    Gisselle recently posted..Gout Natural Remedies

    Reply

  2. darcie
    2 years ago

    Assumptions can really lead to bad situations… But we have to learn our lesson the hard way
    darcie recently posted..How to choose the best Mother of the bride plus size dresses

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