The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz
3rd agreement - Don't make Assumptions.
(My favourite excerpt from the book) - Nici Gorman
"It is very interesting how the human mind works.....
We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe.
This is why we make assumptions. If others tell us something, we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate.
Even if we hear something and we don’t understand, we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions. These assumptions are made so 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. When we believe something, we assume we are right about it to the point that we will destroy relationships in order to defend our position.
We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse. This is the biggest assumption that humans make. And this is why we have a fear of being ourselves around others.
Because we think everyone else will judge us, victimize us, abuse us, and blame us as we do ourselves. So even before others have a chance to reject us, we have already rejected ourselves. That is the way the human mind works.
We also make assumptions about ourselves, and this creates a lot of inner conflict. “I think I am able to do this.” You make this assumption, for instance, then you discover you aren’t able to do it. You overestimate or underestimate yourself because you haven’t taken the time to ask yourself questions and to answer them. Perhaps you need to gather more facts about a particular situation. Or maybe you need to stop lying to yourself about what you truly want.
Often when you go into a relationship with someone you like, you have to justify why you like that person. You only see what you want to see and you deny there are things you don’t like about that person. You lie to yourself just to make yourself right. Then you make assumptions, and one of the assumptions is “My love will change this person.” But this is not true.
Your love will not change anybody. If others change, it’s because they want to change, not because you can change them. Then something happens between the two of you, and you get hurt. Suddenly you see what you didn’t want to see before, only now it is amplified by your emotional poison. Now you have to justify your emotional pain and blame them for your choices.
We don’t need to justify love; it is there or not there. Real love is accepting other people the way they are without trying to change them. If we try to change them, this means we don’t really like them. Of course, if you decide to live with someone, if you make that agreement, it is always better to make that agreement with someone who is exactly the way you want him or her to be. Find someone whom you don’t have to change at all. It is much easier to find someone who is already the way you want him or her to be, instead of trying to change that person.
Also, that person must love you just the way you are, so he or she doesn’t have to change you at all. If others feel they have to change you, that means they really don’t love you just the way you are. So why be with someone if you’re not the way he or she wants you to be?
We have to be what we are, so we don’t have to present a false image. If you love me the way I am, “Okay, take me.” If you don’t love me the way I am, “Okay, bye-bye. Find someone else.”
It may sound harsh, but this kind of communication means the personal agreements we make with others are clear and impeccable.
Just imagine the day that you stop making assumptions with your partner and eventually with everyone else in your life. Your way of communicating will change completely, and your relationships will no longer suffer from conflicts created by mistaken assumptions.
The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as you can be, and even then do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation. Once you hear the answer, you will not have to make assumptions because you will know the truth.
Also, find your voice to ask for what you want.
Everybody has the right to tell you no or yes, but you always have the right to ask. Likewise, everybody has the right to ask you, and you have the right to say yes or no.
If you don’t understand something, it is better for you to ask and be clear, instead of making an assumption.
The day you stop making assumptions you will communicate cleanly and clearly, free of emotional poison. Without making assumptions your word becomes impeccable. With clear communication, all of your relationships will change, not only with your partner, but with everyone else. You won’t need to make assumptions because everything becomes so clear. This is what I want; this is what you want. If we communicate in this way, our word becomes impeccable.
If all humans could communicate in this way, with impeccability of the word, there would be no wars, no violence, no misunderstandings. All human problems would be resolved if we could just have good, clear communication.
This, then, is the Third Agreement: Don’t make assumptions. Just saying this sounds easy, but I understand that it is difficult to do. It is difficult because we so often do exactly the opposite. We have all these habits and routines that we are not even aware of. Becoming aware of these habits and understanding the importance of this agreement is the first step.
But understanding its importance is not enough.
Information or an idea is merely the seed in your mind. What will really make the difference is action. Taking the action over and over again strengthens your will, nurtures the seed, and establishes a solid foundation for the new habit to grow. After many repetitions these new agreements will become second nature, and you will see how the magic of your word transforms you."