How to Stop Making Negative Assumptions and Challenge Your Thoughts
Everyone makes assumptions each day. You may wake up in the morning and see dark skies and assume it’s going to rain. Likewise you may meet someone who looks scruffy and assume they are lazy. In the first example about the weather your assumptions will be based in past experiences and your knowledge that dark skies usually signify a downpours due. In the second example though, you’ll have judged a book by its cover and assumed the person was lazy because of deep set negative thinking.
Some assumptions spring from what we know. We have them because we’ve gone through systematic trial and error and learned from experience. Sometimes such assumptions will be incorrect. However much of the time they’ll be spot on.
Other assumptions don’t come from a reliable source. They are made out of things we’ve heard others say, prejudice, ignorance or fear. Often we learn things from our parents who were our role models, or pick up ideas from our peers.
These types of assumptions are roadblocks to common sense. They prevent us from seeing the truth and make us perceive experiences negatively. Challenging your assumptions can help you understand other people better, improve your communication and social skills and prevent you from missing out on trying new things and meeting new people.
The opposite of ignorant assumptions is openness. Being open to the possibility that you may be wrong can make a window wide enough for your opinion to change. Once you make a definite assumption however, the window of opportunity closes.
It can be tough to alter assumptions in their tracks. This is especially so if your thoughts which help you make them are deeply ingrained. The way forward is to stop and ask yourself why you have certain views and opinions now and then. When you meet someone new notice if you immediately secretly label them with certain personality traits. Perhaps you’ll imagine that they are very bright, happy, untrustworthy or insincere.
Further question yourself as to why you have made such assumptions and where they spring from. Are they thoughts which stem from learned knowledge? Or do they seem to have come from no-where? Perhaps they come from ideas you have about a personality type based on one single experience with another person, in-which case you could easily be wrong.
Once you begin questioning your assumptions regularly you’ll find doing so becomes easy. You’ll learn and grow as a result and are likely to improve your understanding of other people.