Friday Fodder – Assumption

Once upon a time…

Betty was due to fly interstate to see her Grandchildren when it was announced over the airport loud speaker that her flight had been delayed for a couple of hours. She sent the kids a message and browsed the bookshop for an interesting read to pass the time. At the counter she spied a bag of chocolate-chip cookies and a large travel tea mug. “Perfect!” she thought as she found a seat next to a little table with the departure times in view.

Engrossed in her book, Betty happened to notice that the man sitting beside her, boldly reached forward and grabbed a cookie from the bag. “Surely that did not just happen” she thought as she buried her head into the book, deciding to ignore him to avoid a scene.

Betty munched on the cookies and watched the clock as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. Gritting her teeth, she became increasingly irritated as the minutes ticked by. “If I wasn’t such a nice person, I would blacken his eye” she attested, silently in her head.

With each cookie she took, he took one too! Betty pursed her lips. She looked down and there was only one left. She wondered what he would do. With a huge smile on his face, he took the last cookie and broke it in half and offered her half as he ate the other.

Betty snatched it from him and thought “What a nerve! He wasn’t even the slightest bit grateful! Unbelievable.” Her boiling blood reduced to a simmer as the flight was called. Betty gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to even look back at the thieving scoundrel.

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat. Before putting her bag away, she sought her book for the journey. As she reached into her bag, Betty gasped – there was her unopened bag of cookies right in front of her eyes.

Her mouth dropped open. “If mine are here”, she thought “those were his cookies and he was sharing with me!” It was too late to apologise. Betty’s heart sunk as she realised that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

― John Maynard Keynes

Moral of the Story:

Most people do not recognise just how much their inner world is colouring the way they see and understand their outer world, and how this distorts things. When making assumptions becomes a habit, we become less and less grounded in reality and much more prone to creating problems for ourselves and others. A lot of damage can be done by confusing our assumptions with the truth. If you don’t know, don’t assume. Ask instead. How many times do we just assume? Worse still, how many times do we assume the worst? It’s always your assumptions about yourself, about others, or about the future that make reality worse than it actually is. Life is a series of events and sensations. Everything else is interpretation. Much is lost in translation and added in assumption or projection. Don’t assume – just ask.

We make all sorts of assumptions every day. Some are trivial and others are potentially devastating. Almost every single one of them is faulty. Labelling automatically leads to false conclusions and wrong assumptions about others. We too easily confuse these psychological mechanisms with reality, and the assumptions that spring from them become the basis of our own version of “reality,” even though it’s not really real. Assumptions fulfill our need to know and replace the need to communicate. When we don’t understand something, we make assumptions about what it might mean and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions. Assumptions are the most damaging enemies of our mind’s equilibrium…An assumption is an imaginary truth; a lie; an illusion. Assumptions close doors. Intrigue opens them. Stop assuming people can read your mind. Don’t be a coward -Communicate.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

― Isaac Asimov

Affirmation: Because I communicate my needs, I get what I want out of life.

Every day I am more comfortable talking to others. I practice understanding other people’s point of view. I clarify what I think others mean and I am confident to ask more questions. I actively listen to what others say without interrupting them. I articulate my thoughts and feelings easily. I am honest and forthright in all my communications. I say what I mean in the most thoughtful way possible. I turn pending arguments into enriching discussions. I use clear and expressive words to communicate my thoughts. I value what other people have to say. I release all resistance to feeling good. Even in the midst of chaos I can always maintain my inner peace. I am always free to choose, and today I choose happiness.

“The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.”

― Franciscan friar William of Ockham


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