If I were to prepare a list of traits that have had a negative impact on my life, I am sure assumptions would rank in the top five if not the top three.
This trait of presuming things started early in my life because my parents (particularly my mother) are very selective about the information they share.
If you’d ask them a question seeking an essay type reply, you’re most likely to receive a one-liner, leaving plenty of room for the curious mind to guess, assume and basically depending on its own interpretation of the reply.
Till date, I have never seen any good coming from assuming, though harm has been done more times that I’d like to recall.
The biggest pitfall of this arrangement was, my parents too assumed a lot of things based on their beliefs, conditioning and personal experiences. Sadly though, they’d never sit and encourage an open debate on any of those topics. This gaped the communication gap between us and led to many misunderstandings during the course of our lives.
One of the major incidents that impacted my life dramatically was the demise of my marriage. Around the time when troubles started hovering over my married life, my father once said: “Why you never told us about the difficulties in your married life?”
This question came as a shock to me because that was not true in the least. I was pretty vocal about the many areas of conflict in my marital home and I believed my parents were well-aware of everything that had gone wrong from the day I had tied the knot. Then what made my father say that he wasn’t aware?
When I asked him the same, all he had to say was, “Yes, I remember you telling us all that, but I never assumed it to be so bad.”
Once again the communication gap had ditched us to lead to a disastrous outcome. It is in times like these that I wonder if being a chatterbox parent is better, than a parent who speaks counting every word he/she has spoken.
It is also a matter of taking interest in the other person and their story. If you are eager to know more you’ll ask about the missing parts. Curiosity can never be content in the dearth. Curiosity feeds on genuine interest.
I had once read a marketing rule that stated,
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” ~Dale Carnegie
It makes perfect sense in relationships too.
You ought to listen carefully, ask questions to know the whole story, and when one makes a genuine effort it always works to strengthen the bond.
“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once and a while, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda
I do not deny the fact that I too have been on the assumption bandwagon too often for my liking. But after the many bitter experiences I have had, cause I chose to create a hypothesis based on second-hand information, I have given up on seeing life through someone else’s glasses.
The day I realized the importance of knowing the whole truth and of being courageous enough to ask many questions, my life has taken a steep yet beautiful turn.
What appears as common-sense is actually my new found approach of seeking proof before I believe anything. I distract my mind to keep it from filling in the blanks that I have no clue of. And this has changed my life for the better.
Starting from rather worthless or stupid questions, I have come a long way in asking the right ones. But most important part is the cultivation of patience till the whole story is shared with proofs to validate and you are aware of the facts and not just the buzz infected by everyone’s opinions.
This becomes all the more important when you are a parent. Learning from my setbacks, I take due care to let Pari speak till she is confident she has said it all. But our heart-to-heart sessions aren’t limited to that. It has my equal participation, explaining logically, leaving no room for assumptions.
We readily assume when we don’t have the courage to seek answers. We assume when it is the easiest thing to do. It is the convenience of believing the hearsay without stopping to verify the facts that lure assumptions to be an indispensable part of our lives. But it comes at a huge hidden cost. The trust & affection of our dear ones.
Let us today begin work to make room for open dialogue and freedom to question (often denied in our families) to keep our lives blooming with healthier, stronger and happier relations than we have today. After all, jumping to conclusions isn’t a sport in the Olympics yet.
Have you ever been a victim of assumptions?
The song on my mind: Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jate hain jo maqam ~ Aap ki Kasam