Most of us assume that we don’t make assumptions. We assume our guesses are correct and not assumptions at all. Others might assume, but we’re making educated guesses based on our superior observation and interpretation skills.
“I’m exceptional to the majority” is a very popular assumption, up there with “mothers-in-law are awful,” and “parenting teenagers is horrible.” Most of us, however, are the majority.
Assumptions can narrow the vision and reduce complexity into soundbites. If we know one thing, we think we know everything. If I know how you vote, I know your religion. If I know your religion, I understand your views on science. On and on, until real people scarcely resemble the images we’ve created.
And while I might suspect that my assumptions about people who like bacon are correct, it’s important to remember that we’re all a unidimensional caricature to someone.
I remind myself about the folly of assumptions as our world grows increasingly polarized. I remind myself that I don’t want to be part of the problem. It’s hard when I’m convinced I know best.
We’re all convinced we know best.
I don’t save my assumptions for the public sphere: I put them into practice at home, too. Because people who care about me will know what I need without me saying a word, right?
Love is making people guess and punishing them when they’re wrong, or something like that.
“Assumptions are made fast and unconsciously most of the time because we have agreements to communicate this way. We have agreed that it is not safe to ask questions; we have agreed that if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel.” – Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements