I was walking to a restaurant with four other people whom I had just met at a conference that day. On our short walk to have dinner together my negative assumptions were on a downward spiral!
Here’s what happened: At one point during the journey, two of the people were huddled in discussion as they walked together in front of the group. The other two were together in the middle of the group also engaged in in what appeared to be a gripping conversation. That left me at the back of the group—walking all by myself.
I began to make negative assumptions. They went something like this: There is no room for me. They probably don’t want me in their group. They probably don’t like me.
What? The Worry Management Expert making negative assumptions? That’s right; I’m human. I, like you, make assumptions. It’s as automatic as your heart beating. You don’t need to think about your heart beating, it just happens all by itself. Same thing goes for making assumptions. The key is for you to catch yourself in the act of making negative assumptions, consciously become aware of your thinking, looking at your thoughts, and then challenging them.
I challenged my assumptions by asking myself, What’s really going on? All that was really occurring is two people in the front of the group were talking and so were the two people in the middle. It didn’t mean there was no room for me, or they didn’t want me in their group, or that they didn’t like me. It just meant they’re talking. That’s all that’s happening
So instead of allowing my negative assumptions stop me from having a potentially great night with some new people—after challenging my assumptions—I walked faster until I caught up with the middle group and engaged in the conversation with them. They were friendly and inviting and I quickly I discovered how off base my assumptions really were!
When we got to the restaurant I told them about the assumptions I had made. They were surprised and thankful for my honesty. One of the others in the group laughed and said, “I had the same experience on the way here! At one point I was lagging behind and felt left out too.” Hearing my interpretation allowed her to clean up her own negative assumptions. We had a fabulous time together at dinner.
What can you take from this story? First, challenge negative assumptions. They are seldom accurate and can really stop you from experiencing your life to the fullest. Two, be authentic and share with others how you’re really feeling. Sometimes you’ll discover your truth is what is needed to help others clean up their own off-base thinking.
Bottom line: Don’t believe everything you think. Get in the habit of challenging negative assumptions; that’s one way to use your thoughts to bring you joy! Now that’s living your life by your design.
Hey, It’s Adam Sandler!
Did you make an assumption? Did you assume the two people walking in the above picture are the ones mentioned in the article? They’re not. In fact, this is a picture I took of Adam Sandler as he was walking in downtown Toronto last summer after I had the opportunity to say hello and how much I enjoyed his work. It was a great afternoon!
Tweetable: Authentically share how you’re feeling. Your truth can help others to clean up their own off-base thinking. @denisemarek