3 easy tips to challenge your thoughts and avoid negative assumptions by Julie Furlong
I love that scene in the movie ‘Pretty Woman’, when the shop assistant snubs Julia Roberts. The assistant assumes that Julia has no money to spend in the high-end fashion store and passes judgement on her. Julia leaves the store feeling deflated, but later, returns to the store, her arms full of purchases she had made from other similar stores, as in fact she did have money to spend. At that point, the shop assistant realises how much commission she possibly missed out on, and of course realises her assumption was incorrect.
A week ago, I went to a shoe store to buy my son some school shoes. I was in a hurry, moving efficiently around the store, while the shop assistant moved quickly to help me. Assisting me in finding the right shoes for him. I only had a short window of time and I knew I wasn’t going to get another opportunity before school term commenced. I noticed a customer in the store staring continuously at me with an obvious dirty look, possible making an assumption about me? Even though she was not inconvenienced. This woman didn’t know anything about me, she did not know I had to get to work to meet a deadline that morning, she didn’t know my son was going away and it was our last opportunity to buy the shoes for school. She did not know the real picture or my situation.
Indeed, I have been in this woman’s shoes before and I have made assumptions, which at the end of the day, has proven to be wrong. It’s easy to do. We all do it from time to time, some of us more than others, sometimes subconsciously. An assumption is really thinking whatever you like of a person or situation without any evidence. Most of us do this with a first impression, how people might treat you, or how that person may look or behave. Often, we use this information and observation to label and paint a picture of a person. The scene in the movie and my experience in the shoe store is a good example and lesson to all of us, to not quickly make assumptions.
Assumptions are dangerous as most of the time they are far from being true. You never really know the whole story. (Read: Uniqueness) I’m sure, in the past, you too have experienced someone making an assumption about you and their assumption was wrong.
So next time when someone pays a compliment to you – say thanks, rather than feeling embarrassed or changing the subject. The truth of the matter is by being kinder towards one self the happier you will become.
#1 Don’t pay attention to gossip.
#2 Don't judge a book by its cover.
#3 Practice empathy and put yourself in another person's shoes.
Plenty of times, people who seem really happy are actually not that happy. You never know what someone is going through. (Read: The Happy Plan)
You never know what difficulties someone has experience in life. Having a different perspective without judgement can open you up to being the help or inspiration that someone might desperately need.
In any given circumstance before you assume and label, ask the question ‘why?’ before doing or not doing anything. Always keep an open mind that about the person next to you and say to yourself ‘what do I really know about this person? Do I know about their circumstances, their suffering, their happiness?’ Everyone has a story. Follow no one blindly and do nothing without first seeking to understand why.