How much of an ASS are you?

 

One of my school teachers used to often say “when you assume, you make an ASS of U and Me

Usually we groaned and rolled our eyes each time she said it. It’s a corny phrase after all.

Nonetheless it stuck.

And over the years, it has helped remind me how making assumptions can create problems and cause conflict and confusion.

It wasn’t until I started working with a coach years later that I realised – through her reflections to me – just how much of my conversations, both internally and externally, was assumed.

I was unaware that I was doing it so frequently.

I WAS being an ASS!

Whilst training as a coach, I began to learn more about the brain and how it worked. I was shocked to learn just how much of my time I was being an ASS because assuming is part of how the brain functions.

As the Stanford University teacher, writer and neuroscientist David Eagleman shows in this short video, our brains are predisposed to “fill in the blanks”.

 

This excerpt it taken from a whole series about the brain which you can watch here.

 

Our brains make assumptions based on our internal model... and that's been built up from years of experience - David Eagleman Click To Tweet

“Our brains make assumptions based on our internal model. And that’s been built up from years of experience…”

And this is a helpful function of the brain.

It saves time.

We don’t have to continually work out what objects are or how to do things.

We use that internal model to navigate our world.

BUT

The same brain process is happening unconsciously and making decisions about our daily lives; whether we do things or not, how we speak with people or not and, of course, how we talk to ourselves.

These assumptions, based on our past experiences, create limiting beliefs and bias viewpoints.

e.g.

someone like me can’t ….
It’s bound to go wrong for me.
I’ll probably fail.
I can’t afford to.
I haven’t got the time to.

And yet how many times have you heard someone say something like;

“I didn’t think I could but I did.” or “I surprised myself and had a go” or “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” or “actually it was easier/cheaper/faster than I had thought”

How many times have you heard someone say I didn't think I could but I did? Click To Tweet

Assumptions also spill over into how and what we think about others too, whether we know them or not!

e.g

Parents always says…
My spouse/partner will never…
Men/women/children are …
Managers/boss/owners are bound to…
All (fill in the nationality/religion/gender/race etc) are…
The list of assumptions is endless and impacts our behaviours toward others, consciously or unconsciously, even before we have met them.

And it can also impact how we feel; nervous, afraid, excited, disappointed.

Think about going for a job interview.
What immediate assumptions come up for you about that?
I love/hate them.
I’ll be nervous the whole way through.

Or maybe going on a first date or asking someone on a date;
They are out of my league.
I’m too boring.
What if I don’t fancy them.

As ever, these lists of possibilities could go on.

The point is that none of them are real.

They may feel real and you may have sounds and scenarios playing out in your head.

But that is the brain assuming.

It’s coming to a conclusion based on previous experience.

But is it helpful?

Clients will often say “I know what you are thinking” or “what you are going to say” during our coaching conversations.

But how?

How can they possibly KNOW what I am thinking?

Or what I am about to say.

When people say I know what you are thinking....How can we possibly know what someone else is thinking or what they are going to say? Click To Tweet

 

Most of the time I don’t know what I am thinking or where the conversation is going to go.

They assume they know.

People assume they KNOW based on previous experiences/conversations, but these are assumptions NOT fact.

And yes, that makes them an ASS.

I ask, “Well if you know what I am going to say, why are you paying for coaching? You can obviously do it yourself.”

It may sound harsh but assumptions like this limit ourselves.

Which means that we will be caught doing the same thing, day in—day out, year in—year out.

Which means that we will keep getting the same results and yet wonder why.

*Sidenote

If you really do know what me or someone is thinking then please do get in touch, as I think we could make a fortune on the psychic market!

 

Seriously though, how often do you think or say the above and think of it as fact rather than see it as the assumption it is?

We perceive it as fact mainly because we have heard it often, usually in our heads —but just because you hear something often, doesn’t make it true.

 

 

 

Just because you hear something often, doesn't make it true Click To Tweet

 

We can’t stop the assuming function of the brain and actually we wouldn’t want to as part of that function — identifying the metal objects as cars, the 4 legged thing as a chair etc — is helpful.

But much of what we think about ourselves and others is assumed.

To make changes for ourselves, whether that is to access more confidence, feel better in ourselves or have more happiness or success in our life, we must be more truthful.

Making simple changes in your language could help, e.g. “I assume they’ll say/do X but I don’t know.”

“I assume someone like me couldn’t but I wonder if I could or if someone like me has.”

Stating it clearly as an assumption helps your brain to know that it is NOT fact, and therefore starts to look for possibilities and other options, which is a far more open —and, in my experience, a healthy and helpful way of living.

Time for us all to stop living life as an ASS!

Bottom from Midsummer NIght’s Dream

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