This morning as I continue on in my series of posts on life skills for growth, I want to introduce the life skill of checking out assumptions. Every time we make an assumption about someone who has hurt or disappointed us without confirming it, we believe a lie about this person in our heads. This assumption is a misrepresentation of reality because I have not checked it out with the other person. It is very possible that we are believing something untrue. It is also likely that we will pass our false assumptions around to others. When we live like this (with hidden/false assumptions) we end up creating a counterfeit world and it can properly be said that we exclude God from our lives because God does not exist outside of reality and truth. By living this way, we end up wrecking relationships because we have created confusion and conflict.
So what can we do to avoid having hidden and false assumptions? Here are some important steps that we can implement as we use this life skill with another person: (1) Reflect on something you suspect the other person thinks or feels but they haven’t told you i.e. “I think that Joe is mad at me because he was short with me the last time we talked.” (2) Ask: “Do I have your permission to check out an assumption I am making? i.e. “Joe, may I check out an assumption with you? ” (3) Say: “I think you think . . .” or “I assume you are thinking . . .” (fill in the blank). When you finish, ask them: “Is this correct?” i.e. “Joe, I assume you are mad at me because you were short with me the last time we talked. Am I correct in thinking this?” and (4) Give the other person an opportunity to respond. i.e. “No, I am not mad at all. I was in a rush that day and I was late for my doctor’s appointment. I should have let you know that.” This skill works in ALL relationships.
Here are some more examples of what this might look like in everyday life (these were put into a skit that Mary from our church wrote for our service on Sunday):
Mrs. Sprite (on the phone): Really? My little Amanda? Oh my goodness. You said you saw her in the principalʼs office today? Was anyone else in there? No… well thanks for calling, Alice. That just makes me so angry, I could scream! I knew that principal had it in for our family, but to take it out on my daughter! Thatʼs just going too far. …. OK…. bye…
Mrs. Sprite’s Assumption: The principal is picking on my daughter. It must be because I didnʼt volunteer at the last fundraiser.
Mrs. Sprite : (change of heart in voice) I suppose I donʼt really know what this is all about. I should go check it out.
Mr. Snapple: Well hello Mrs. Sprite.
Mrs. Sprite: Hello Mr. Snapple. I heard that my daughter was in your office today.
Mr. Snapple: Yes… we just found out that she won first prize in a poster contest. We are all so very proud of her.
Mrs. Sprite: Oh…. (looking a little sheepish) ….
Priscilla: Hi Gladys.
Gladys: Hi Priscilla.
Priscilla: Hey… I was wondering if you could give your husband Horatio a message for me?
Priscilla: Could you ask him if he wants to help out at the Thanksgiving Celebration next weekend? Weʼre really short on helpers, and we were wondering if he could spare a few hours.
Gladys’ Assumption: They donʼt want me to help. They donʼt want me around.
Gladys: Uh….. could I just check out an assumption with you?
Gladys: Iʼm assuming that you donʼt want my help. Is there some reason for that?
Priscilla: Oh… I just knew that your children were all going to be around that weekend, so I was
assuming youʼd be way too busy, and not have time to help.
Priscilla: I guess we both made some wrong assumptions there. Iʼd be glad to help.
Do you carry around false and hidden assumptions? What do you do when you realize this?
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