Making Assumptions About What Others Assume (About You)

When you are walking down the street and say, “Good Morning” to a stranger passing by, what do you assume that person assumes about you?

Even after all the work I have done to create healthy self-confidence for myself, I noticed this morning while on a walk that when I said “Good Morning” to a person I passed, I assumed that they assumed that I was of low intelligence because of my speech impediment.  Does my assumption, in fact, represent the truth of what the people I passed were thinking or anywhere close to it?  Upon reflection, I realized that I had absolutely no idea.

What inaccurate assumptions do you assume that others assume about you the moment they meet you?

Maybe we ought to say, “Hi! Glad to meet you.  I already assume that you are making assumptions about me and, just so you know, it is going to take you a while to prove that you are not.”

This is craziness!

Rather than enjoying the process of meeting someone, we often assume that we have to disprove assumptions that we assume the person we just met is assuming about us.

(This is lots of assuming and the other person has barely said anything yet!)

Or we could just state flat out what we assume the person we just met is thinking.  In my case, I could say, “Hi, I’m Jason! It’s awesome to meet you.  And by the way, I already assume that you assume that I’m of very low intelligence because of the sound of my voice.  Want to be friends?”  (This approach might be slightly awkward.)

If we are going to naturally make assumptions about what people we are just meeting think of us, why not replace our disempowering assumptions with empowering ones?

For example, Daniel instantly assumes that whenever he meets someone, they are making the assumption that he is a goof-off and not professional.  He could work to become fully conscious of this assumption and then consciously tell himself when he meets people that they instantly admire him, want to be his friend, and see him as a professional.  Of course, Daniel is still making assumptions, but now the assumptions that he is making work in his favor.

What would it be like to assume that when people meet us, they instantly see someone they like, someone they admire, and someone they want to be friends with?

Game of the Day

If you find yourself assuming that people you just have met are making inaccurate or negative assumptions about you:

  1. Practice becoming fully conscious of these assumptions.
  2. Practice replacing these limiting assumptions with positive assumptions.

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.

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Instead of Dropping Hints and Being Frustrated

If you text message one of your friends, “Have a nice day,” do you expect a response?  Furthermore, do you feel frustrated if your friend doesn’t respond in an hour, in six hours, in a day?

I have gotten frustrated over circumstances like this more often than I care to admit.

Then when I finally stepped back to think about it, I realized that aside from the fact that my friend might have not seen my text, I hadn’t even requested a response.  I just made an encouraging statement, sent a gift of sorts and expected my friend to decipher that I wanted a response.  I had dropped a hint and after that chose to spend time longing for a desired result.

Do you ever drop hints and become frustrated when your friends or family fail to decode your hints?

Dropping hints would be a strange and socially awkward practice for when one is standing at the front of a movie theater ticket line, so we simply state the movie that we want to see and thereby get a ticket.  We don’t give the ticket clerk a twenty-minute story that kind of hints that we may kind of want to see a movie and kind of halfway alludes to the movie we want to see.  We would never dream of doing this and the people behind us in the ticket line would never dream of letting us. We simply state what movie we want to watch, say please, hand over some cash, and the clerk prints us a ticket. The whole transaction takes under twenty seconds and works perfectly!

Why in our personal lives do we so often song and dance around what we really want?

Is it some big secret that we are human beings and have needs and wants?  Are we scared of getting what we really desire?  Are we afraid if we ask for what we want and need that people may tell us “NO”?  Do we thrive on being frustrated with people for not reading our minds?

Referring back to my initial example, it would be much more effective and kinder to the other person to send a text message saying, “I really would enjoy hearing from you today, please text me when you have a chance.”

Over the past year, I’ve gradually become more aware of how often I drop hints instead of requesting what I really want.

I’ve noticed that instead of producing a healthy friendship or relationship interaction, dropping hints tends to produce a “Longingship” interaction. (I wouldn’t try using “Longingship” in a game of Scrabble because I just made it up.)

Instead of dropping hints, let’s try gently laying down requests of what we really want.

Gently laying down requests takes practice, self-confidence and courage.  This method of politely asking for what we truly want can be a pathway to a whole new level of freedom in all of our relationships.

Game of the Day 

What types of hints do you tend to drop?

With whom do you tend to drop them?

What would it look like to gently lay down requests in these interactions?

 

Being Confidently Alone

I’ve noticed that at points in the past, I have almost wanted a Siamese twin so that I wouldn’t have to be alone.  Now that I reflect upon this wish, I see that being connected at the hip would sharply reduce my freedom.  Think of it- having to agree with someone before you could do something as simple as getting out of bed or putting your clothes on.

Sometimes when we fear being lonely, it is tempting to want to become emotional Siamese twins with other people, so that we don’t have to experience feelings of loneliness.  Deciding to make ourselves into an emotional Siamese twin of others seriously reduces our freedom, our ability to explore all life has to offer and even our ability to authentically choose the company of others.

I currently happen to be single and live on my own, so I have been developing a set of skills, which I like to call the skills of being Confidently Alone.

Nurturing the skills of being Confidently Alone can give a person freedom no matter their relationship status or their living situation.  I brainstormed a short list of the freedom that learning to be Confidently Alone can afford a person:

  • The freedom to do any activity that appeals to you, even if no body is available or wants to do it.
  • The freedom to remove yourself from people or social situations that don’t reflect your values or bring you joy.
  • The freedom to CHOOSE to be alone when you want.
  • The freedom to CHOOSE to be single when you want.
  • Enjoy the freedom to really CHOOSE to be with people when you are with them.
  • The freedom to live without dread that people might one day leave you.

And here is a short list of tips that I have found useful when cultivating the skills of being Confidently Alone:

  • Look for opportunities to be Confidently Alone.  Notice times when you want to do something and no one else does.  Instead of choosing not to do the activity, choose to do it Confidently Alone.
  • Focus on the present moment and the activity that you are doing when you are Confidently Alone.
  • Give yourself the gift of having fun when you are Confidently Alone.  It is a myth that people can only have fun when they are with other people.  Disprove it for yourself.
  • The more you practice being Confidently Alone the more skilled you will become at this practice.

May we all experience the freedom to be Confidently Alone and through this freedom, experience a new level of freedom in connecting with others.

Game of the Day

What is your next step in developing the skills to be Confidently Alone?

Discovering Miracles

I found a big stumbling block for me in discovering the miracles that have transformed my life was assuming that I knew exactly what my next miracle would be.

What do you think your next miracle will be?

For years, I was certain that the only miracle that would save me from my lack of confidence and frustration over not feeling athletic was finding the perfect woman to marry. So, I would round every corner waiting for her to magically appear.  I was really good at looking really hard for the right woman to marry, but alas I lacked confidence in myself so I wasn’t so hot at attracting her.  I also was really good at worrying and being frustrated about NOT finding the right woman to marry.  To say the least, all of this worrying and frustration narrowed my openness to the wonder of daily life.

Do you worry as I did about your expected miracle coming into reality?

All my worrying and looking left little room for me to be open to the idea that the miracle I hope for might take a different form than I expected.

 Only when I was able to relax my hold on how I thought my life should work out, did I begin to listen to Aunt Ann and Uncle Bill and my friend Paul who were telling me to take up yoga.

Could people and situations be introducing you to a miracle that takes a different form than you are expecting?

 So, what of all the time I spent searching for my ideal mate?  Was that time wasted?  No, the image of my ideal mate was like a lighthouse that guided me towards my miracle of healing at a time when I didn’t have much hope in that reality.

 I’ve discovered that the purpose of a dream that is shining bright like a lighthouse isn’t always to lead us directly to that dream.  Sometimes a lighthouse dream first leads us to a shore where other miracles await.

 Could there be miracles for you to actively participate before the opportunity for your expected miracle comes into your life? 

 The self-confidence that I have gained from actively participating in the miracle of yoga may well be leading me towards an opportunity for my initial expected miracle of blissful marriage to come into my life…

Game of the Day

 Explore your life and be open to discovering your next miracle in unexpected places.

Creating A Helpful Conversation When A Friend Is Going Through A Rough Time

For the sake of today’s blog entry, say you have a good friend named Jake who you have known for years.

Your friend Jake calls you at four in the afternoon barely able to get out the words, “I just lost the job I had for twenty years.  Five months ago we got a new boss and he never liked me.  He called me into the his office and said I had to go because I was not keeping up with my paperwork.”

You switch off your computer monitor and the thought goes through your head, “How in the world do I help my wonderful friend?”

Jake’s focus is naturally on the shock, anger and frustration about being unexpectedly fired.  So the best place to start helping Jake is probably right where Jake is focused.  As the conversation progresses, you may be able to help Jake broaden his focus so that he feels more in control and better about the whole situation, but at this moment Jake needs to talk about the loss of his job.

Simply, repeating back to Jake as much as you can remember of what he just said can show Jake that he is being listened to and also have a calming effect. You could start by saying something like this, “So you got a new boss in your office five months ago….” and continue on to repeat the rest of what he said.

Or you can let Jake know that you are listening closely by delivering the content and emotion of what he said back to him but not using his exact words.  In this case, you might say something like “So you are saying you are very frustrated.  Your boss let you go today because he said that you didn’t complete paperwork when he wanted you to.”

Whether you choose to repeat what Jake said back to him or to paraphrase what he said or employ a combination of the two techniques, you show Jake that you heard him and also allow him a chance to slow down his thoughts, which could well be racing, and rehear what he just said.

Once you understand what Jake is dealing with and he feels that you have listened to him, you have an opportunity to begin conversing with Jake in a way that shifts the conversation.

Your purpose in shifting the focus of the conversation is to help Jake feel strong as he deals with this sudden crisis in his life.  So you can begin to remind Jake of the strengths he has.  You can do this by saying something like, “Wow you have twenty years work experience and are well-respected in the field.  It sounds like you would be a good catch for a lot of companies out there.”  Or you can invite Jake to create his own list of strengths by asking the question, “What are your major strengths as you apply for new jobs?”

To end your conversation with Jake consider asking him to reflect on the positive part of his week. Jake presumably had some good things happen in his week before his boss fired him.   Maybe say something like, “I understand that you are thinking a great deal about the news you got today about your job, but aside from that what has been nice about the past week?”  This question gives Jake a chance to enjoy his life again, and to remember more of his strengths.

 Game of the Day

In the next conversation you have with someone who is dealing with an area of struggle try the following practices:

 1.  Repeat or paraphrase what the person says so that you show them that you are listening closely and also allow them a chance to slow down their thoughts.

 2.  Once you understand what they are dealing with and they feel that you have listened to them, shift the focus of the conversation to the person’s strengths by making an observation or asking a question.

 3.  Finally, ask them to reflect on the positive part of their week.  This question gives them a chance to enjoy their life again, and to remember more of their strengths.

Beyond “What’s Happening?”— New Questions to Create Richer Conversations

                                    

If you had asked me “What’s happening?” or “What’s up?” or “What’s new?” at about 11:30 last night, I would have told you a sad little tale about parking my car in a bike lane which I didn’t notice, and having a sizable parking ticket when I returned to my car. I would have also told you about how I didn’t think the bike lane was clearly marked, but that I wasn’t going to appeal the ticket because it would be a lengthy process.  In addition, you would have had the opportunity to hear about how frustrated I was by the whole experience.

From there, the conversation could have progressed into swapping other frustrating parking ticket stories, before branching into talking about our general frustrations with life.

On the other hand, if at 11:30 last night, you had asked me, “What was the most amazing thing that happened in your day,” our conversation would have been different.  I would have answered excitedly by telling you about a birthday party I went to with my good friends Patricio and Michael.  I would have told you about our drive up into the mountains north of San Diego, where our gracious host lived high up with a pool right on the edge of a ridge.  As I was floating in the pool, I could gaze out and see orchards and gorgeous misty mountains in the distance.  Then after swimming and an amazing dinner, I would tell you of going for a walk to see a majestic avocado grove on the side of this mountain.

From there, you might well start telling me about the amazing places that you had been.  Our conversation might then naturally drift towards wonderful experiences we had enjoyed and amazing people we knew.

As you can see at 11:30 last night, based on the question asked, we would have had two completely different conversations.

When we ask each “What’s Happening?” or “What’s up?” or “What’s new?” or some variation there of, I’ve noticed that it is human nature to start talking about what is wrong with life.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to begin our conversations with richer questions that immediately place both speaker and listener in a positive frame of mind.  There are many variations of richer questions.  I’ll list just a few examples:

 “What is a great thing that happened in your week?”

“What are you most excited about today?”

“What do you love about your life?”

 “How have you felt strong this week?”

These questions naturally turn us towards having conversations in which we talk about our strengths and the things that make us happy.  These are highly enjoyable conversations to have!

Game of the Day

Today, begin three conversations with a richer question than you usually use to begin conversations.  Choose a question from the above examples or invent your own.