Stephen MItchell’s brilliant book,The Second Book of the Tao, is the kind of book that I love to open at random in order to find some inspiration. The other day I opened to a page that began, “Our assumptions about the world become our world. Confusion projects confusion and we wonder why life doesn’t make sense.”
One of my favorite Dear Abby type of columns contained a letter from a woman whose cousin was extremely angry with her because she had set her wedding date for the same month and day that her cousin had been wed a few years before. The bride to be was concerned about hurting her cousin’s feelings!
This is so typical of how many of us react to the assumptions that we and others have. In this case the cousin verbalized her assumption that her wedding date was so special that no one else in the family could use the same one. I can’t help but laugh every time I think of this. How about you? The bride to be’s assumption was that her cousin had a right to make that demand.
Many relationship problems develop when assumptions are not expressed. One person expects others to read his or her mind and follow the unspoken expectations as if they were one of the Ten Commandments. Perhaps you are turning yourself inside out to please or live up to “rules” given to you by a parent, an in-law, a co-worker or neighbor.
Before you feel angry, guilty or ashamed when they give you a hard time, stop and examine your own assumptions. How should an adult “child” act toward his or her parents? What should parents expect from a grown up “child”? What are you expecting from your spouse? Is he or she supposed to read your mind or your body language and do or stop doing something that displeases you?
In Alcoholics Anonymous they say that if you “assume,” you will make an ass out of you and me! Consider sharing your assumptions with the people you are having problems with and check out their assumptions too. Mitchell observes that if you question deeply enough, assumptions let go of themselves and your mind becomes clear.