25 May Do Your Assumptions Limit Your Potential?
We all do it. We draw assumptions about a situation based on a story, life experience, or self-protection mechanism we have created from our past. We draw assumptions about certain things, like why we shouldn’t call someone, why we didn’t get a new client, or how our partner should know what we want for our birthday (gulp – guilty!). In turn, these assumptions just mess up our heads and cause some type of havoc in our life – for me it was dreading my birthday. They impact our life, our business, our relationships, and most importantly, our self-respect.
What is an assumption? It is a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof. Many of our assumptions are unconscious to us because we have found ways to justify them into truths. The lines of separation between fact and assumption start to grey.
The word assumption has another definition – the action of taking on power or responsibility. For example, we assume a role on a board of directors. It is very interesting how we can assume our assumptions as our truth. The assumptions we make within our lives take on a power that impacts our actions. Let’s have a look.
What is an assumption you make that impacts your life? To help you start becoming more aware of them, complete one of the following sentences:
I don’t ________________ because ________________________
I’m not ____________________ because ____________________
For example, you might say: I don’t blog because I’m not good at writing or I’m not in shape because I don’t exercise regularly.
Whatever your statement is, you may not see the assumptions that are driving the statement because to you, they are factual. Let’s look at the statement “I’m not in shape because I don’t exercise regularly.” There are two potential underlying assumptions – what you consider being in shape looks like; and what regularly means.
You may have a neighbor who jogs 3 miles every morning. You see them leave their house at 6 am in their tracksuit and return about an hour later. This leads you to draw the assumption that to be in shape, you have to work out vigorously for one hour every day. On the other hand, you try to go for a thirty-minute walk four times a week and take a Pilates class on the weekend. This doesn’t hold a candle to what your neighbor is doing and the assumptions that you’ve drawn because of it. Of course, you see yourself as being out of shape.
We can see how our assumptions are based on our life experiences. They could be things we were told as a child or experienced at various times in our life. Many women are experts at taking situations and making assumptions about it that ultimately put themselves down or limits their potential. If a woman spends a lot of time prospecting a client and doesn’t make the sale, they are more likely to find fault in themselves – “why didn’t I see the signs that they wouldn’t buy from me” – “why did I waste so much time with them and now I have nothing to show for it”. Hours upon hours are spent trying to understand what went wrong, instead of saying, “that wasn’t the right customer for me” and moving on.
So, what can you do to change things?
First – practice being more conscious of your thoughts. If you’re watching your neighbor go for their daily jog and you start thinking “boy, I’m so out of shape”, realize what you’re saying to yourself. Change can only come from awareness.
Second – look at how that assumption makes you feel. If the assumptions are fueling your motivation, great! However, if your self-talk and assumptions are putting you into a funk or making you feel bad about yourself, then consider – why would you talk to yourself that way? Show yourself some love and consideration. If it were a friend who was talking so negatively to themselves wouldn’t you say something to uplift them? Of course, you would. So why not treat yourself like you would a friend. Instead of saying something that will make you feel bad about yourself, why not recognize what is good. Celebrate the exercise you are doing; give yourself a pat on the back and know that you don’t have to be like your neighbor or anyone else. You’re wonderful for who you are.
By simply talking to ourselves the way we would talk to others shows self-love and self-kindness we can take control of our lives and be more effective, instead of getting bogged down by our assumptions. And, if we can’t be kind to ourselves, how can we really lead fulfilling and successful lives?