How many faulty assumptions have you already thought today so far? You’d be amazed if an alarm bell could alert you every time you do. It’s part of human nature but there is a danger because our thoughts are never an exact representations of what is actually going on. Faulty assumptions take us on a path of irrational thinking and we end up overreacting to situations, cutting ‘innocent’ people out of our lives, treating people with animosity when there is no need to and living a reality that isn’t accurate. An assumption is an unteseted belief that we accept as true.
It is always easier to spot other people’s assumptions than your own. Just being aware that you often make faulty assumptions is the first step in the right direction. Our thinking is always subjective, based on our values, upbringings and past experiences.
Thoughts are not facts
Four common assumptions tend to occur regularly – faulty assumptions about time, money, talent/capabilities and energy. People often believe that they don’t have the time, the intelligence/skill, the energy or the money to do something. If you really want something, these assumptions can always be challenged.
Do you have faulty assumptions – test yourself
Identify something you want which you believe cannot happen now. Ask yourself if you believe that what you want could happen 30 years from now. It is important to select a time far enough in the future for you to be able to definitely answer “yes”. Then begin working backwards in 5 year intervals. Your doubts may emerge in several ways – “I hope so”, “Probably” or “I’d like to think so”.
The only acceptable answer before moving to the next time period is “Yes”. Anything else shows doubt.
Once you cross that threshold yourself, examine the interval between the past point where you answered “yes” and the point in the future where you begin to have doubts. Notice what assumption emerges for you when you identify this first “threshold of believability”. Carefully question any assumptions you identify to be sure they are valid in your particular case. If you have trouble identifying the assumption, do this with a friend whose perspective may shed light on your assumptions.
With that faulty assumption identified and eliminated, return to the process of slowly working back one or two years at a time towards the present until you again encounter some doubt about succeeding at your goal within that time frame. Then repeat the step of noticing the assumption that triggered the doubt.
If you get stuck on a particular assumption, experiment with these questions:
-What if that assumption happens to be wrong? What would I do next about my goal?
-Who might I talk with to learn if there is something faulty about that assumption?
-Do any other obstacles emerge at this particular time interval?
-Has there ever been an exception to this obstacle (such as monetary requirements or an age requirement?)
What do you want to believe?
Thought are extremely pliable, that’s the wonderful thing. You really do get to choose what you want to think and believe. What do you want to believe about you? Many will say – “but that’s not realistic”. Fair enough – maybe some things and beliefs will be slightly sugar coated but if it helps you to feel happier then why not? Where is the Law Book that you may only accept thoughts that make pure sense? Of course, it would be silly to believe you can fly…thoughts need to have some realism to them but think about how different you would feel about yourself if you thought this,” I am not as good as everyone else” compared to this: “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and I am good at these things…..”.
Watch those faulty assumptions. They can warp and distort the world and we usually lean towards believing the worst about ourselves. Sometimes we do this as a defense mechanism – if we believe the worst, others can’t hurt us as we already think that way, or we reject others to avoid getting hurt – what if the assumption was wrong and we rejected someone/broke up with someone when there was no need to. Make sure your thoughts work for you and always always challenge those thoughts that don’t make you feel happy, there is ALWAYS another way to look at things.