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As a child one of my dad’s favorite sayings was ‘assume makes an ass of you and me.’ Perhaps that is why I am such a clarifier as an adult.
Last week I was working with a client who suffers from anxiety. One of her biggest complaints is that her anxiety increases and her feelings get hurt when she has an expectation for someone, and they don’t follow through/meet her expectation. During the session, she realized that she rarely is honest with people about what she needs. Frequently she wants to be seen as the ‘laid back’ chill person when she is someone who has pretty precise expectations when it comes to time and deadlines. The problem comes when she doesn’t state these expectations to her friends/co-workers and they, ASSUMING that she is laid back and chill don’t hit her expectations and then she becomes hurt and lashes out and they are confused.
I have noticed this in my life–when I tried to change myself to fit an image of how I thought I should be. So I didn’t share my needs with significant people and ASSUMED they would mind read what I wanted/needed. And unfortunately, that doesn’t happen (oh wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did).
So basically there are 2 problems here which I think create increased anxiety. One: We need to be accepting of ourselves. We can’t all be super laid back. There are people in the world who like to hit deadlines, who need to be timely. These are valuable, necessary talents. When we accept ourselves for who we are and stop pretending anxiety naturally decreases because we are living genuinely.
Two: We need, to be honest with ourselves and other people about what we need. We can’t ASSUME or expect them to become mind readers. We need to tell them what we need, what our deadlines are etc. Yes, initially this might increase anxiety because it is a new muscle we are stretching. But I promise if you put away the crystal ball and start to eliminate the desire to ASSUME, your life will become much happier!!