We love to arrive at grand conclusions with very limited information. We’re great at making assumptions and we think we’re pretty damn smart. And we’ll tell ourselves (and others) that our intuition is amazing! Mmm … assumptions and intuition are very different things.
Intuition is a gut feeling, but doesn’t come from the gut. It comes from our limbic system, the primitive part of our brain, which is designed to keep us alive and safe. It’s the knowing without knowing why. “Get the fuck out of there!”
Assumptions, on the other hand, come from our neo cortex, which is full of all kinds of shit.
Nothing is assumed by accident. Our assumptions are mostly based on the outcome we want, which can be quite far from the truth. And what we want could be good or bad; conscious or subconscious; beneficial or detrimental. Why would we want anything to be bad or detrimental? Well … for one thing, we’re fucked up.
Another thing is self-protection. We protect ourselves by assuming the worst and if the worst actually happens, which rarely it does, we are mentally prepared for it. No let-down. And anything even slightly better than the worst is a bonus. Low expectations.
Then there’s validation. “See? I knew that guy was an asshole.” Even if he’s not, we’re going to focus on anything and everything that could possibly make that guy an asshole. We just walked into the party, never saw that dude before in our lives, and from across the room, we quickly profile and determine, “Asshole”. Done.
And what about the answers we want in our favor? “I’m sure she put gas in the car.” In the morning, you start it up and the needle is on “E”. We wanted her to have filled it up, because we didn’t want to do it, so its more comfortable to assume that its been taken care of.
Assumptions are influence by our current mood, life experience, approach, philosophy, psychology, emotional state, outlook, perception, the situation at hand, gossip, beliefs, opinions, likes, dislikes, expectations, and about a million other things.
So how do we avoid the assumption trap? Well, I looked into it and the number one suggestion is … mindfulness. Sounds good, right? It’s a popular go-to term these days. “We need to be more mindful.” Actually, it’s quite exhausting and mindfulness is the kind of shit that got us in trouble in the first place! Our assumptions come from too much mind.
So, mindlessness then?
Funny; actually hilarious, but not exactly. No, Mushin. The Japanese Zen practice of mind of no mind. Too much chatter; inside and outside. The truth, as it is, is simply observed. Nothing more. No preconceptions, misconceptions, notions, judgement, ego, or misconstrued intel. Minimal mind.
Mind of no mind. Mushin.
Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash