Don’t believe the hype of your assumptions

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You may have heard the saying that when you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME.

It’s definitely a helpful way of remember the power of assumptions. But I am not sure it goes far enough.

Recent experiences have highlighted to me that making assumptions can be damaging, dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Historically, cave people needed to make assumptions… assuming that the big cat was more likely to eat you than want a cuddle was good for survival and safety!

And although most of us don’t face big cats on a day-to-day basis, we still make choices (unconsciously) for the primal assumption of survival.

Now some might say that this is a good thing, and why humans have survived so well. But I see how it often creates a sense of defensiveness…being on alert just in case.

Assumptions create defensiveness. Challenge and question those that don't serve you. Click To Tweet

And this primed defensiveness assumption can be damaging and dangerous to ourselves and/or others.

I have personally experienced these assumptions:

1) Whilst visiting my Dad in hospital this week, staff made assumptions based on the symptoms he was experiencing and were treating him according to those assumptions. Fortunately, his wife (my Mum) knew his illness well and was able to speak for him. But even then, they weren’t asking her questions to get more information and if they did, they interrupted and spoke over her. They continued with their assumptions, which is dangerous for ANY patient and could cost them their lives.

2) A couple of weeks ago I started a new coaching programme with a client. “I am fed up with feeling so down about myself all the time. It’s exhausting and I want things to be different” As with all clients in their first session, we spent time uncovering her view of the world and her life. She cited that the main reason she was so down on herself was because her “life wasn’t perfect” and she “wasn’t happy all the time like everyone else”. When we delved further into this, she realised that her lack of confidence and happiness was being based on her social media feeds.
Someone had posted a smiley photo, she assumed that they were happy with their life.
She saw photos of people out and about and assumed they must have tonnes of money.
She saw that someone had been promoted and assumed that they were always confident.
I call BS on that!
That person was smiling in THAT picture. We don’t know what else was going on in their life. Have you ever been smiling in a picture and not really enjoying it? I am sure we all have at some time.
And as for that promotion, does it mean they are ALWAYS confident? In studies, 94% of senior leaders cited lack of self confidence and belief as their primary reason for wanting coaching. Just because you are higher up the organisational ladder, it doesn’t automatically give you confidence.

These assumptions were damaging my client.
Assuming others are happier, more confident or anything else, impacts how you think about yourself. And most of social media is an illusion.

Social Media is an illusion. Don't compare your life to what you see online. Click To Tweet

3) When I appeared on BBC Breakfast and posted the interview and backstage pictures, I had messages from people saying things like “I’ll never be able to afford coaching with you now”. What an interesting assumption! In fact, I haven’t raised my coaching costs for around 5 years (The BBC interview was 3 years ago) and they hadn’t actually asked me the fees. If they were assuming they couldn’t afford to work with me, where else were they assuming things were out of their range? If you don’t believe you have the money for something without first checking, how damaging or limiting could that be on other aspects of your life?

People regularly tell me how busy I am because they follow me on social media. They are assuming they know me because of what they see online. It’s true, sometimes I am busy AND sometimes I am not. They are making assumptions based on a post or two, and just like my client, comparing what they see to their own lives… usually unfavourably! Comparison is a confidence killer. Seriously, for your own wellbeing…stop it now!

Unfortunately (and fortunately) our brains are wired to make assumptions (think back to cave peeps earlier). But if the assumption is not serving you, challenge it, question it… or at least qualify it as an assumption.
e.g. I assume that…
I imagine that
I guess that…

Don't believe the hype of your own assumptions Click To Tweet

You can help yourself to access more confidence by not falling for your own assumptions…Remember… you don’t have to believe the hype!


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