This is a cycle that many of us repeat over and over again in our lifetimes; maybe it's your anniversary and you're expecting a lavish gift but you get flowers instead. Perhaps you go on a romantic vacation with your partner of five years and they fail to ask you to marry them. Or maybe you walk into your bosses office preparing for a raise and instead end up with a final paycheck. The possibilities are endless but I'm sure you have lived through something similar to one of these experiences.
If this is a habit that tends to make us all so unhappy, then why do we keep doing it? I find for myself I run through several potential likelihoods when I'm nervous, excited or maybe just want to be prepared for every outcome. Sometimes I think of the worst possible outcome just so I can be prepared for anything that might happen in between the worst and the best sequence of events.
But my question is why do we need to even think of them at all? Shouldn't we all be able to just experience the moment as it comes and accept it without premeditating something that might never happen? What if we could use all of the brain space that we waste on useless planning for more creativity and positivity in the world?
In my own quest to stop assuming and start experiencing I've taken to creating several habits that seem to be working for me and maybe can help you out too.
My first tip is one that I've started using with Joe. See, I used to always think he could read my mind and then I slowly realized that he can't. And believe it or not he's not the only one who has no idea what's happening inside my noggin. So when I want something, am feeling frustrated, don't understand why he would make a decision or anything in between, I just bring up my concern. It's as simple as that. What I've realized is that assumptions are oftentimes made due to a lack of communication, especially when it comes to a partner or good friend that you feel should know you better than you know yourself.
Secondly, do your homework. This can be when going out to eat, choosing a wine at the market or trying to make any decision that is yours or should be yours. No one else can tell you what you want except you, but it's your responsibility to figure out what it is that you do like. Do you like wine that's sweet but are afraid it's uncool and are trying to get around to it in a round about way with your server so your friends don't know? Well if you aren't honest and open with what you want, or haven't been open to trying new things, then they are probably going to get it wrong. And guess what? That's your fault not theirs. Maybe you are trying to figure out what to make for dinner and are asking the butcher how he likes to cook the meat you just ordered. Well, you aren't the butcher and you might not have his tastes. If you cook the steak his way and don't like it that's not the butchers fault, it's yours. I think you might get where I'm going with this one. I see so many people waffle with decisions because they don't want to be direct and honest, or they are too preoccupied with other things to just think about what they might really want or like. When you assume that someone else has your same tastes, preferences, desires or ideas about life, then you are setting yourself up for major disappointment. Just do your homework and listen to what your gut tells you about that menu. Or look up recipes for ideas before showing up to the grocery for dinner ingredients. It's your responsibility to live your life. And that's not meant in the “oh man this sucks” kind of way, but in the “wow life is really cool when I pay attention to it and give myself a voice” kind of way.
Both of these points lead to my third topic. Using your voice. Don't be afraid to talk with someone when they upset you, or ask questions you don't know the answer to. If something makes you uncomfortable or you see something bad happen, don't think that someone else will step in and fix it. It has been shown time and time again that they are all probably thinking the same thoughts you are. Your voice is one of the most spectacular tools you have in this life, so use it. Don't use it to spread anger or fear. Use it to ask intelligent questions, show love, show interest or tell someone how you feel so they can have the opportunity to react appropriately. Because if you stay silent, then you are guaranteed to not learn and suffer. You might not suffer horrifically but by staying silent you will harbor resentment, anger and that might lead to one day exploding.
If you notice yourself starting to form assumptions about a situation you're in, take a deep breath and focus on something in the present moment. Sometimes, I'll get out a sheet of paper and write down all of the facts that I know are true. Having this tangible evidence that I really know nothing about this future incident helps me relax and not focus on it so much. At the end of the day, you'll find yourself much happier when you take out all of the worry, stress and anxiety too much forethought and expectation brings around. The best part is, once you stop making assumptions, you find yourself even more able to appreciate the really magical moments that sometimes present themselves.
Have fun this weekend, spread love and stop making an ass out of you and me.