How Assumptions Hold You Back
Nicole Winkler: On today's podcast, we're going to talk about how assumptions hold you back. We'll talk about five ways your assumptions are holding you back, and I'll give you five ways to keep your assumptions in check.
Announcer: Welcome to Lift Your Future, a podcast that teaches you coping skills through stories, methods and proven techniques to improve relationships and outcomes in your personal and professional life. I'm Nicole Winkler, a licensed therapist and executive coach. On this podcast, we'll share a relatable life experiences designed to help you grow. I will provide easy, practical ways to develop thoughts, feelings and behaviors to impact your life, both personally and professionally. My goal is simple to help you lift your future.
Nicole Winkler: Hello and welcome to this episode of Lift Your Future, I'm Nicole Winkler, I'm very excited to be here today. We're going to talk about assumptions, and this idea came to me actually when I was sitting on an airplane a few weeks ago with my family and we had been rerouted and had a twenty four hour layover in a city, Las Vegas, where I never wanted to take my children until they were much, much older. And it was obviously very inconvenient. But it wasn't just us, and it wasn't just our family. It was everybody that was on the plane. And I know that this is a really big deal. There are flights being canceled and a lot of places, and it's not just inconvenient. It really does kind of uproot people's lives, not just the passengers, but family members and getting home and jobs and work.
Nicole Winkler: And so it really got me thinking about the assumptions that we make. And my first thought was, you know, there are all these people very upset. Of course, I'm upset about it as well. I want to get home. I'm with my kids. I don't want to be in Las Vegas with my kids. I'm gonna be in Las Vegas, I want to be in Las Vegas with adults. But it was like, OK, really quick. Take a step back. Reframe. We're going to make the most of it. So let's go see the fountains and let's go do the sightseeing. A little bit of what we can do, right? A roller coaster because they were actually tall enough to ride the roller coaster. And so I guess what what made me really think about assumptions was the reaction that people around me were having. I had my own internal reaction, of course, and I restructured it, trying to reframe it really quickly. Ok? At least we didn't get on an airplane with a pilot that's been flying 80 hours a week and get into a crash. At least we didn't get on a plane where there are active cases with COVID. The staff have COVID and they're spreading it to everybody on the plane just so we can get home by the time that we're supposed to get home. So that got me thinking because I was hearing other people talk around me and it was very much like this was a personal attack on them and they were taking it very personally, which again, I had that.
Nicole Winkler: That was my first thought and I've learned over the years my first thought is wrong. So if my assumption is, hey, they're doing this on purpose and they are trying to upset me and derail my vacation, then, you know, hopefully they're not. I mean, and really the reality is they're not trying to do that. Nobody tried to ruin your day or tried to ruin your, you know, your flight when you order something at the grocery store and it rings up wrong. Oh, did that cashier purposely ring that up wrong? Like, can we just operate under the assumption that people are doing their best and that they're not trying to make your life more difficult? So that's where the idea for this podcast came to fruition for me. And it's really important to me because we walk around assuming things all the time, from seeing somebody drive by me or zoom past me and whatever kind of car, and I make an assumption about that person that could be completely wrong or somebody, you know, somebody has a certain type of job or they dress a certain type of way. Well, this must mean X or Y about them. And those things are not necessarily true. And over the years, the more people I've met and I learned this after working in the jail and the penitentiary setting that some of the nicest people and humans on the entire planet look kind of scary.
Nicole Winkler: Sometimes they have tattoos on their faces and they shave their head or they, you know, they have made themselves look and appear a certain way to be perceived a certain way. So people do have an assumption about them. But I got to know them on a different level, in a different way. And there's some of the nicest people I've ever met. So it's like, Hey, maybe all my assumptions are not correct, and I need to really address those. So a little bit of background on why that's important to me, and we operate with assumptions. There are automatic thought. It's just, Oh, I saw that and that's what it is, and we learned them from a very young age. And so I wanted to speak to that a little bit. I also wanted to talk about it's hard right now, everywhere, for everyone, for different reasons. And if we can just be a little more caring and compassionate and understanding and not jump to conclusions or make assumptions, then I think we can live a happier life. And that's all we can control is how, how we're perceiving the world, how we're perceiving a situation. And so that's what I want to bring to you today. Let's see. I got to look at my notes. I'm so sorry and I forgot my printed out notes because like everything else right now, my kids are sitting in here with me because they have e-learning today.
Nicole Winkler: They announced some e-learning classes, three days of e-learning last week, so we have to make modifications. And I forgot my notes at home because we were in a, you know, rushing out of the house with everything to get here. So bear with me here. Let's see. Oh, another assumption I have. For you, a story, I guess, about an assumption is that I called somebody to tell them something. It was actually a job offer our job opportunity, and so I called them and left them a voicemail because I thought it was a great opportunity for them. And then I never heard anything back from them. So I just assumed that they weren't interested. And I ended up touching base with them a couple weeks later and said, Oh, you know, did you get my message about that by chance? And she said, No, I never got a message from you at all. I don't even have a phone call from you. I was like, Oh, really? And she was actually very excited about the opportunity and applied right away. And we don't know yet if she got the job, but it was just a really good lesson for me to remind me, Hey, I called you, or I text you, I reached out to you and you didn't get back to me. I can't assume that that's the end of our communication about it.
Nicole Winkler: Maybe I need to follow up. Or maybe you got busy, or maybe it got lost in your emails. Who knows? But I think oftentimes we're like, Oh, well, that person didn't respond, so they don't care or they're not interested. It's like, No, no, no. Wait a minute, wait a minute. There's a lot going on right now in the world. And so let's give the benefit of the doubt and make the assumption that the maybe overlooked it or they got busy and weren't able to respond. I get messages and sometimes I look on them, look at them on my watch smartwatches, by the way, I'll get into that in another episode. But smart watch, you know, I look down at it and I read it, and then I think I respond sometimes, and I never responded. So then when I'm going through my messages a few days later, it's Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. You know, but that other person could operate under the assumption that I just completely blew them off or didn't get back to them. And so we're doing the best that we can. Let's let's please, if there's any message you get from this episode, operate under the assumption that everybody is doing the best that they can right now, OK, and you're doing the best that you can right now. And so I'm going to give you a few tricks here at the end about how to do an even better job with that.
Nicole Winkler: So one one thing that's hurtful about assumptions is that we operate under tunnel vision. That means we're not open minded. It's like, OK, automatic. It's just this is it. I'm just an automatic pilot. Well, we know that if we just drive on automatic pilot, we can end up at our old house or our old job or somewhere else, like, how did I even get here? Because when we're doing that, we're not conscious. We're not in our conscious mind, our prefrontal cortex right here in the very front. And that's where we want to be. We want to be in our prefrontal cortex most of the time when we're making decisions with assumptions, we don't have to make a decision. We don't have to really think about it. And that is the second point is that it comes from an automatic thought. It's in your subconscious mind. There's already a neural pathway back there. It's like, Oh, zip, if this than that, if this than that. But all of our ifs and ends are not always accurate and true. So we need to question them. Three. It's our perception and our perception. I go through this a lot with clients and myself. Even our perception is not necessarily the reality, it is just our perception of the reality. And I know I've talked about this in another episode of the podcast, too. So is this the most accurate for we generally don't question our assumptions unless somebody else questions it for us.
Nicole Winkler: If I say, Oh, well, that person didn't want to help me. And then someone else says, Well, how do you know they didn't want to help you? Well, because they didn't even look at me, well, maybe they didn't know you were even there. Oh, no, that's not true. That can't be the case. They had to know I was there. Well, no, that's not necessarily true. So we have to question that. And oftentimes it only happens when someone else questions us about it. And then there are, you know, our assumptions are more of a reflection of us, ourselves, our own biases, our own stereotypes, our own belief systems than they are about anyone else or the circumstance that we are assuming about. So I want to say that one again because I was kind of wordy, but I think it's important our assumptions are are way more about us and what we believe and what we believe to be true or even untrue than what they actually are about the person or the situation that we are assuming something about. Here are the five tips to check it out. Is my assumption accurate or not? Am I waiting in line for something and this person does not even care that I'm here? Or are they having a really rough day and they just found out their kid is sick? This happened to me when I was making a return at Target recently. The person behind the counter and I worked customer service for a really long time, so I have an extra layer of probably empathy for someone behind the counter of customer service or on the phone for customer service.
Nicole Winkler: And she just was not very kind. And so I just said, Are you OK today? And she said, Oh no, I'm not. My kid is sick. They shut down daycare. There's COVID in the rooms. I don't have anybody to cover my shift. I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do the next 10 days. And, you know, she just kind of spilled that on me and I didn't mind at all. I was like, Wow, that is really, really challenging. I'm sorry to hear that. So had I not asked that question and had my background experience working in customer service? It's not about you. I could have been upset and taken that personally. So I wanted to talk about that as well. So how to check it out? The first step is to ask yourself if my thoughts about the situation are are evidence based. Like, are these based in reality? And if I don't know that sometimes we don't know that with ourselves, ask someone else. That's not a part of the situation. Hey, if this were to happen, how would you perceive this? What would you think? What assumptions would you make? Because usually a third party can give us more accurate information. Don't tell them who, though, because if they know the person, then they might have the same, the same background as you do.
Nicole Winkler: But hey, this happened. Should I be upset about it? Should I take this personally? And oftentimes you'll find that your background information that you are making an assumption that is not necessarily accurate. Number two is this emotional reasoning. Am I making this assumption based off of my emotions? Emotions are wonderful. They're real, and they are a warning for us. Kind of an alert for us to say what's going on with me. But sometimes it just stops there. It's really about what is going on with you and not anyone else. But when we allow our our responses and our emotions to be filtered through with our assumptions that can cause damage to relationships, to work relationships, to personal relationships with ourselves, with our kids, with our spouses. And so is this an emotional response or not? Number three, ask if you don't know, then ask questions are so powerful. Hey, I just wanted to check this out with you. This is my perception, or from my perspective, this is what happened. What happened from your perspective? Ask so I say, when in doubt, ask it out. It sounds so cheesy, but maybe you'll remember that when in doubt, ask it out. And then the next step number four is listen to the response. Actually, listen to understand, listen to hear the response. And if their response is no, I'm fine, that's probably not real. There's probably an attitude in there or tone in there.
Nicole Winkler: You can pick up from that. And hey, maybe you don't want to talk about it right now, but I can sense that you're really not fine. And I do want to hear I do want to know. So that way, I'm not assuming something that's incorrect. Number five, don't take it personally. Don't take it personally. Most of the time we are doing our best. I would, I would say ninety nine percent of the time everybody is doing the best that they can do right now. There's very few people that are out there planning and plotting to ruin your day or to make something more difficult for you. So taking the am I taking this personally, this really is not a personal attack on me. This is something they are going through. Give it back to them. Let them own their stuff. You own your stuff. Don't take it personally. And then just a little bonus in there, if there is something that you realize you made an assumption about. Apologize for it when you recognize it, realize it. Apologize for that. I've made assumptions. I've made plenty of assumptions in my life and I'm sure I'll make plenty more. But when they are brought to my awareness, then I can come forward and say, Oh, wow, OK, so I work with people all the time. They say, I want that promotion, but I'm not going to get it. That's one a limiting belief, but that limiting belief is actually an assumption you're assuming before you even apply for the promotion that you want, that you're not going to get the job.
Nicole Winkler: Well, then you're not going to get it or I want to have this meeting with someone. And I, you know, I have this vision. I have this idea, but I don't think that they'll meet with me. They don't even know who I am. Well, you're making an assumption, and you didn't even check it out yet. Go check it out. Go see. Oh, I have to take my kids here and there and everywhere else. Nobody's around to help. Did you ask if somebody would help? I mean, I've been totally guilty of that. I have to do all these things. I have to be the one that's responsible for that and this and that and the other. And then I end up burned out and upset and frustrated when really all I needed to do was ask. And I made the assumption that I had to be the one completely responsible that was all on me. I had to take ownership of that. Ok, so the five ways to keep your assumptions in check one. Ask yourself, is this based on evidence? And if you don't know if the answer is I don't know or I'm unsure, go ask someone else, someone else that you trust someone else that that, you know, will be honest with you. Number two, is this assumption filtered through emotional reasoning? Am I emotional about this? And therefore I'm making an assumption about something.
Nicole Winkler: Our emotions are awesome, but they are. They're down in our brainstem. They're not in our prefrontal cortex. And so we need to to really assess that and bring that information to the forefront of our minds. Ask questions. Asking questions is so powerful. And then listen to the answer. Don't just ask the question. Listen to the answer. And then finally, don't take it personally. We are doing our best. So I'll leave you with this. Have compassion, compassion for the people that are around us. Compassion for the people that are around you. Everybody is trying right now. Everybody is doing the best that they can do right now. Let's operate under the assumption that ninety nine point nine percent of the people are doing the best that they can right now. And let's also operate under the assumption that we are doing our best right now. And if we improve just a little bit like one percent more tomorrow, like, oh OK, I jumped to this conclusion. I made this assumption. I'm going to go make it right, go back and make it right and apologize. That will build relationships, that will build community and we will all be better off for it. Thank you again. So much for listening today. If you have gotten any value out of this podcast or my previous episodes, please leave a five star review. I would really, really appreciate it
And have a great week.
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