How often do we hold ourselves back with our assumptions? Presuming we know something about ourselves when in fact we have not been tested? It is so easy to say, “that class would be too hard, that type of book does not interest me, I never like new foods”; each of us has a list of things we believe that may prevent growth and understanding.
Erasing assumptions challenges one to look at every new opportunity with a fresh eye and an open mind and heart. One may avoid circumstances that are unfamiliar or one that experience tells us was unpleasant. Even when confronted with a past event for guidance, the situation or timing may be different. “I tried that once and didn’t like it” seems fair, but look more closely at the when and where of that occasion to see if there has been some minute change since the previous exposure, a subtle difference that would alter the outcome. Most have had such an experience with food; rejecting one as a child only to find a fondness for it as an adult. Reexamining the assumption and giving a new try to a previous reject can open a door to a new-found pleasure.
The broader assumptions are tougher, the things we believe we know about ourselves in less specific ways. Breaking down a firmly held belief when a new situation presents itself requires digging deep for fearlessness, imagination and curiosity. Take for example, “that class is too hard, I might fail”. Breaking that statement down into the components of what we find hard, and whether it matters if we do fail, helps us to decide if the assumption is holding us back from an opportunity to grow. When we put our minds to the creative work-around to carry out an act we previously thought undoable; not only is the satisfaction of trying the new with some success the reward, but we have used our creativity in a concrete manner.
Our assumptions must stand up to our best judgment or be challenged if we are to broaden our horizons and let go of the constraints of self-talk that is unexamined. Just as making assumptions about another person can close off the chance to add value to your life, so can making assumptions about yourself.