When Assumptions Make an Ass of You

Assumptions and judgments — they’re relationship termites. They feast on the foundation, weaken the structure, and leave gaping holes in their wake. And like termites, assumptions are good at hiding, doing irrevocable damage behind the scenes. This post came to me after an incident with my guy. As mentioned in a previous post, we’re both generally drama-free. We don’t fight (much), and our bickering usually ends in affectionate nose biting, giggling, and the mutual annihilation of an entire bag of chocolate-covered almonds. But after a conversation last week, I began to make assumptions about things he said, misunderstanding but never inquiring about the meaning behind his words. And so I sat, sulking, inviting my own emotional termites to chew furiously beneath the surface. Ever do that? 

Eventually, I did what a bad yogi/woman scorned often does: I had a small tantrum, unleashed a few four-letter words, and behaved like a hurt fool. Imagine my surprise when I realized I had it all wrong. I’d misinterpreted an entire conversation, and subjected myself to needless pain and worry. Why? Because I didn’t have the courage (or humility) to ask questions. What a fool I am.

And sadly, this is not the first time I’ve assumed or judged. I realize I do both quite often. I wonder how many people I’ve pushed away in the process, and how much I’ve tainted my own perspective on life and the world. Where would I be, or better yet, who would I be without judgments and assumptions? I challenge you to ask yourself the same question.   

Here are some quotes to help us kick the habit of assuming and judging. Let’s try communicating instead.

  • “Be curious, not judgmental” ~ Walt Whitman
  • “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.” ~  William of Ockham
  • “A tornado of thought is unleashed after each new insight. This in turn results in an earthquake of assumptions. These are natural disasters that reshape the spirit.”   ~Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
  • “A lion of truth never assumes anything without validity. Assumptions are quick exits for lazy minds that like to graze out in the fields without bother.”  ~ Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
  • “When you judge another, you don’t define them. You define yourself”    ~ Wayne Dyer
  • When you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  ~Mother Theresa
  • “Be a witness, not a judge…”   ~Rumi
  • “Assumptions are the termites of relationships”  ~ Henry Winkler

 

P.S. Not all assumptions are bad. In fact, there is one I will strive to make going forward:

Assume everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have.

18 Comments
  • Anna Palmer
    May 17, 2016

    I am going to pin this so I can reference these quotes. Setting aside judgement is something I have to practice EVERY day.

  • Lee Gaitan
    May 17, 2016

    Such good advice. I have done my fair share of reacting to a complete misinterpretation and it’s so hard, sometimes, impossible to repair the damage!

    • Rica Lewis
      May 17, 2016

      I agree, Lee. It’s funny how fast things can unravel. Thanks for reading!

  • Stacey W
    May 17, 2016

    I am one to hold everything inside then lose it. I need to do better!

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      Been there and totally broke some stuff as a result. HA HA. Ill emotions are bombs waiting to go off. Thanks for reading, Stacey!

  • Sandy Mangis
    May 18, 2016

    Love the quotes. I once had a boss that told me never to assume anything because it makes an ass-(out-of)-u-and-me. Will never forget that.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      Ha ha, Sandy! That’s actually what I was thinking of when I wrote the title of this post. Love that phrase! Thanks for reading.

  • Jessica
    May 18, 2016

    Love the Walt Whitman quote-such a great point!

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      I have large volumes of Walt’s stuff, Jessica! I’m a poem junkie. Thanks for stopping in.

  • Daniela Vaughan
    May 18, 2016

    “Be curious, not judgmental” ~ Walt Whitman
    “When you judge another, you don’t define them. You define yourself” ~ Wayne Dyer
    “When you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~Mother Theresa

    Yes. Yes. And Yes. So wonderful. What a great place we would live if we all spread more love instead of judgment.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      If only! Thanks so much for reading, Daniela. 🙂

  • Sara
    June 8, 2016

    Rica, I have been exploring this aspect of myself for a few months. I loved your take on this and found it very helpful. Beautiful!

    • Rica Lewis
      June 8, 2016

      That’s great news, Sara! Thanks so much for sharing that with me. It’s very encouraging to hear that you found the post helpful!

  • Allyson Greene
    June 9, 2016

    I have a terrible habit of festering over things and twisting them and assuming they have meanings not stated! This is definitely something I try to work on and need to work on more

    • Rica Lewis
      June 9, 2016

      I think that may be a side effect of being a sensitive human being, Allyson. At least that seems true in my case. Maybe it’s insecurities, too. Thanks for sharing your struggle! Always good to see you around 😘

  • Peggy
    August 12, 2016

    I’m having a serious confrontation with my own assumptions and judgements today. Seriously. I feel like how most ex smokers feel towards smokers. Reading your post is exactly what I needed to read to help me step back and simply bear witness to what’s going on inside me without all the bs that accompanies assumptions and judgements. High five…fist bump! <3

    • Rica Lewis
      August 12, 2016

      Ha ha! We are always on the same page, Peggy! High five and fist bump back at ya!

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