144: Assumptions – What Do You REALLY Know?

144: Assumptions – What Do You REALLY Know?

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People assume I make my own pie crust. Sometimes I do, but it’s rare. In fact, the last time I made a lot of pie crust was when we were in that hurry up and wait part of the process of buying our homestead, and I was trying to keep myself busy instead of going crazy.

Believe me, if I show up at your house with a pie, there’s a 99% chance that the pie crust was thawed and rolled out of a box.

Check your assumptions

Now, pie crust is kind of a silly example to use, but it still makes the point that we need to check our assumptions.

Yes, our assumptions.

We assume what people know. We assume what people don’t know. We assume what people believe. We make assumptions about how people feel. Have you ever stopped to think, when you’re reacting to something or you’re working through something… how much of what you’re basing your path forward on is assumption?

People assume that I’m judging them for their cooking. I have had people tell me they are nervous to cook around me because (gasp) you’re Amy. You’re that farmish girl. You cook everything from scratch. You know how to cook and bake everything!

Y’all. I do not cook everything from scratch. And you know what I’m thinking when people are cooking a meal for me? I’m thinking it is so awesome that someone is cooking for me!

People assume that I feel like a confident badass. It’s charming that I come off that way, but y’all, that’s not always (ever?) what’s going on up in my head.

The funny thing, though? I assume that other people in my life feel like confident badasses. Guess what, none of the people I’ve assumed feel like confident badasses actually feel that way about themselves in their own head!

Assumptions: we think about others in terms of ourselves

We tend to think of other people in terms of ourselves, and those assumptions we put in place because of that filter get us in so much trouble.

One of the best pieces of advice I received as a newly married woman was if your husband is quiet or seems upset, don’t immediately assume the issue has anything to do with you. People have built entire arguments off assumptions. Have you seen those memes where it’s the husband and wife laying next to each other but facing opposite walls and there is a thought bubble over the wife’s head that says, “I bet he’s thinking about another woman” and the thought bubble above the husband says something about tools or figuring out the government or how to buy more ammo or some work issue?

Y’all. We just don’t know what’s actually going on in people’s heads.

So, we just go through life without any assumptions?

We can’t just not assume anything. There’s a reason for assumptions. There’s a reason for labels. I have a writer friend who says we shouldn’t even use genres to label books because it’s too restrictive, but I think it’s kind of nice to know if the book I’m picking up is sci fi or erotica or an autobiography.

Assumptions can help. They can also hurt. They can get you way off track. Assumptions can be a guide, but be sure to ask questions. We get too far down a path assuming someone makes their own pie crust or doesn’t know how to bait their own hook or plans to stay single until they die and we create a reality in our head about them that isn’t even real.

And then we react to that reality… when it isn’t even real.

We have fake conversations with ourselves about how to proceed through that reality… when it isn’t even real.

A quote about assumptions and how they can get us in trouble.

Here’s the thing about assumptions, though…

We generally can pinpoint lots of assumptions that have been made about ourselves. Like “you thought WHAT about me?”

But are we big enough to admit the assumptions we have made about other people?

Assumptions like… other people’s political beliefs. What’s okay and not okay for them. What’s offensive and not offensive to them. Their past. Their future. What it’s like where they live. What it’s like in their home. Who they are as a person. As a partner. As a parent. As an employee. As a friend.

I’m married to a law enforcement officer. There are a lot of things people assume about me when they find that little bit of information out and a lot of those things just aren’t true. There are things people assume about my husband based on his job that just aren’t true. Like, laughably false.

People have assumed a lot about me as a parent. As a wife. As a woman. As a friend. As a homeschooling parent. As an online personality.

And people have assumed a lot of things about you, as well. And that sometimes makes us laugh, but sometimes it’s a real issue. Sometimes it really frustrates us, and it’s a problem.

But you know what? We have assumed a lot of things about others, too.

How many assumptions are you making?

Today when you’re dealing with anyone, stop for a second. What do you actually know? And what have you assumed? And how far off track might you be because of those assumptions?

Are we okay with admitting how little we know about a situation? Are we okay with looking at what we actually know and stacking that up against all the stuff we don’t know?

We understand the frustration when other people make assumptions about us, but if we’re completely honest, we assume things about other people all the time. So as you go through your day today, try to pick out all those places where you realize, “wait, I don’t actually know that about that person. I’ve never actually asked them about it. I’ve just assumed their intent/belief/opinion.”

You might be surprised at what you find.

— Amy Dingmann, 5-7-21

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