The Power of Relationship Assumptions

Could you be damaging your relationships by holding onto false assumptions?

This article is the second in my series on choosing our assumptions wisely. Last week we looked at the impact of our couple_talking_nicelyassumptions on our life choices. If we assume we can accomplish a goal, we will pursue it. If we assume that we don’t have the ability to be successful, we won’t attempt the goal, and thus, will stay where we are. We will give up on the dream.

Today, we’ll look at our assumptions regarding relationships. We all make relationship assumptions. We assume what another person is feeling or thinking. We assume how that person is going to respond to us. We create a story in our heads about how others see us, how they judge us or whether they like or care about us. We make these assumptions all the time, but we don’t realize that they are assumptions. We treat them as absolute truth. Be believe them without hesitation. We’re often wrong.

Many potentially enriching, supportive relationships have ended because one or both individuals made inaccurate assumptions about the other person and then acted on those assumptions. The assumptions created unnecessary conflicts or distance. The assumptions were false, but the resulting hurt was real.

Consider the following example. Jack and Susan have been married eleven years. In the beginning they were both very happy with the relationship. They loved the other and felt loved in return.

Through the years, they experienced the common stressors of life; financial strains, death of a parent, children with behavior problems. They became consumed with work and child rearing. They had little time for each other. The conflicts began.

Susan began to feel that Jack didn’t care about her. She noticed the hours he worked and his tendency to get lost in TV. Her hurt of rejection turned into anger. She voiced her complaints, trying to get him more involved, but it didn’t work. Jack just became more distant. He avoided talking to her. He shut down even more. Susan assumed that Jack had stopped loving her.

Jack began to feel that Susan blamed him for all their problems. He hated the arguments because each one left him feeling more defective, confused and inadequate. He assumed that Susan saw him as an inadequate husband and father.

The reality was that Susan didn’t see Jack as inadequate, she just missed him. She wanted him to love her and to want to spend time with her. Of course, Jack didn’t see this.

And Jack hadn’t fallen out of love with Susan. In fact, her opinion of him was very important to him. He wanted her to see him as a good man. He didn’t distance because he didn’t care. He distanced because he couldn’t handle the thought that his wife considered him a failure. Of course, Susan didn’t see this.

Before Jack and Susan could see the truth, they had to entertain the possibility that their assumptions about the other one were inaccurate. They had to consider the possibility that they were wrong. Once they did, they were able to talk more calmly. They actually asked the other one what they were feeling and they listened. Jack talked about his desire for Susan to see him as a good man. Susan expressed, in a non-accusing way, that she just wanted more of Jack because she loved him so much. They began the process of healing.

Consider your relationships. Ask yourself if you might be making assumptions about the other person that are false. What if you are? What if you are hurting a relationship because of an untrue assumption? Why don’t you calmly check it out? Ask them about the assumption and really listen to what they say. What do you have to lose?

Choose Your Assumptions Wisely

Negative Assumptions Can Have a Massive Impact on Your Life.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

                                                              Henry Ford



What if you could change your life with one simple choice? What if you could improve your mood, your self-esteemchoices and your relationships by one decision? It’s not quite that simple, but choosing the correct assumption can make quite a difference. In fact, the topic of choosing assumptions is so important that I’ll cover it as a three-session series.

We all make assumptions every day. We usually make them without conscious thought. Yet, our assumptions impact so many areas of our lives. We make assumptions about other’s thoughts, intentions or feelings, about our own capabilities and about the future.

We make an assumption any time we believe something to be true, but have no actual proof that it is true. We think we know, even though we don’t know. We usually believe the assumption without question, and right or wrong, that belief guides our thinking, our actions and our emotions.

For example, imagine that you’re considering going back to school for a nursing degree. You have often imagined yourself in uniform, working in a hospital. You have a fascination with medicine and like to help others. A career in nursing is your dream.

As you consider returning to school, you have two possible assumptions. In option A, you assume that you have the ability to pass the nursing courses, graduate with the degree and pass the state nursing exam. In option B, you assume that you do not have the ability and that you will fail. Only one of the assumptions is true.

If you assume that (A) is true, you will submit your application, sign up for the courses and move forward. If you assume (B) to be true, you will continue in your current situation, without ever making an attempt. You will never know whether or not you could have been a nurse. You will never have your dream.

As you can see, the assumption you choose makes a huge difference. And it is a choice, because you cannot know whether or not you can successfully complete nursing school unless you try. Choosing the negative assumption (B) closes off all possibilities. The choice dictates the outcome.

As stated above, we often make assumptions without conscious thought. We don’t recognize that we are making a choice, or that a different assumption is even possible.

Try to become more aware of your assumptions. Unless you have absolute proof, your belief is an assumption, not fact. Consider the possibility that your assumption might be wrong, and that an opposing assumption might be the truth. How might your life be different if you had made different assumptions? How might your future be different if you question your current assumptions?

Next week, we’ll look at the impact of your assumptions on your relationships.


Comments: How have your assumptions impacted your decision-making and the path of your life? How do you plan to be more conscious of your assumptions in the future?

Your Self-Esteem Wound as a Computer Virus

Recognizing the Virus of the Mind and Getting Rid of It

computer_virusThink of your mind as a computer. When you were born, you came with the software necessary to live and grow. Unfortunately, you were also born with a vulnerability to misinformation and viruses.

The Impact of Misinformation:

As you grew, you were exposed to misinformation. This information was usually entered into your system by people who were given the same misinformation earlier in their lives. They didn’t realize the information was false, so they passed it along to you. You had no way of knowing that the information was false, so you recorded it into your hard drive and it became a part of your operating system.

A Virus of the Mind:

Sometimes the false information only did minor damage, but sometimes it contained a virus. A computer virus is much more harmful than simple misinformation. A virus gets into the core of the computer. It often damages the operating system. The computer can’t function normally. Simple tasks become very difficult. The virus sometimes shuts the computer down completely.

The Damage of the Virus:

The virus then gets into various programs and alters their function and performance. Because of the virus, the computer will often relay inaccurate information. The virus can impact everything. The virus is destructive, sometimes devastating.

Getting rid of a computer virus isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work. Sometimes it requires help from a professional. But the work is worth it.

The Computer is Innocent:

Finally, you wouldn’t blame your computer if it acquired a virus. The virus and the person who sent it would be at fault, not your computer. The computer couldn’t help it. It simply processed the information it was given. So did you.

Dealing With Your Virus:

Your virus may have been the message that you were unimportant or unlovable. It could have caused by harsh criticism or judgment, making you believe that you were inadequate or incompetent. It could have been the virus of abuse. This is often the most devastating virus of all. It creates shame, and makes the victim feel deeply defective.

The first step in ridding your computer of a virus is recognizing that it has that virus. You then have to take deliberate, purposeful steps to get rid of it. You have to recognize that the computer wasn’t at fault. The virus and the sender were at fault.

Try to remember that your negative self-esteem wounds were not present at birth. They were implanted during child and later. They don’t belong there. Begin the work of ridding yourself of those wounds. You’ll be glad you did.


Comments: Can you share any other metaphors of negative self-beliefs, or ways to rid one’s self of them?