Questioning Assumptions: Why It's Often A Good Idea
Examining your assumptions is always useful because it forces you to examine the context you’re (subconsciously) imposing on the situation.
The act of examining your underlying assumptions is a very valuable activity provided you do it consistently over a long period of time.
Most of us make hundreds of assumptions every day. And for the most part, this makes sense.
Take gravity for example. It's reasonable to assume that gravity is going to be a part of our lives for the next few hundred years. Based on this assumption, we continue to build apartments, homes, and the various structures that make our lives possible.
Assumptions from past experiences are stored in our brains and help fortify the status quo. We need those to function effectively each day.
But what about those assumptions we make about situations or people that aren't warranted?
Examples of underlying Assumptions
Here are some examples of our internal dialogue that stems from assumptions that might be worth questioning:
- "She walked out during my speech because she was bored"
- "If I call these prospects they'll feel like I'm harassing them"
- "He checked his phone during our conversation which means he wasn't listening at all"
I'm not suggesting that the underlying assumptions behind those statements are incorrect or unfounded. But I am suggesting that they're worth examining.
Maybe she walked out during my speech because there was a family emergency. Maybe the prospects I've been hesitant to call would be happy to hear from me because I have a solution they're interested in. Maybe he checked his phone while we were speaking because his son is sick at school and he's expecting a call from the teacher to tell him to come and pick up his son.
Mindfulness as a way of examining and questioning your underlying assumptions
Mindfulness practice is a great way to incorporate this into your life. Practicing mindfulness as a discipline is valuable on so many levels.
Mindfulness is the process of approaching each moment with an attitude of self-awareness using your breath as an anchor.
You can do most things mindfully.
You can eat mindfully, walk mindfully, speak mindfully, and yes even think mindfully.
The more conscious and deliberate you are as you go about your daily activities, the more likely you'll be to catch yourself making assumptions that sabotage you.