Today we are going to talk about the third of the agreements from the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is “Don’t Make Assumptions”.
The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
These are agreements we can make with ourselves that help us to have a compass on how we can interact with our experiences in an authentic way, related to our purpose, mission, and life vision. This is what we can bring as a self-actualized person.
It’s also important to remember every time we talk about these agreements that we all have what we call hidden agreements. Agreements that we made a long time ago and can limit the experiences we have today in ways that we do not perceive or understand as such, but that we could unmake at any time in our lives if we manage to discover them and understand them.
Frustration from assumptions
Making assumptions is kind of natural for the human being as a survival mechanism. It’s important to remember that we are animals, and as such we do have all our evolution focused on surviving Earth’s harsh environment and aggressive ecosystem.
What happens is that we receive a lot of information from the environment, and our brains learned to allow us the awareness of the bits of information most important to our survival.
An example of this is when we are in a high-stress situation, where cortisol is released in the body and the mind enters into a deep focus state. People say that it’s like time slowed down. Fight or flight mode enters into play, and the subconscious mind narrows the possibilities of what we can do as the best options it judges for us in the situation.
So it’s like the subconscious mind says, “Ok, this is the way to survival, go through it”; while blocking any other exits. We might think later and say to ourselves “Why didn’t I do this instead?”. Not only that, but we also have to make sense of all these pieces of information while missing a lot of data. So our minds became very good guessing machines.
Our minds take a lot of information, guess what is supposed to be important, and guess what they might mean when put together. All that while the small part of our mind that is conscious tries to catch up on this train and needs to trust in an abstract concept called “intuition” to benefit from this process.
We are very complicated machines that need to be finely attuned to work properly, and the reality is that our culture is not giving us what we need to be in this state, which can lead us human beings to conflict and suffering.
All this helps us to understand why relying on our assumptions, particularly in the ones we do consciously, does not lead to good results as they are usually wrong. It’s just a guess.
Those guesses can be well educated or not, and this comes with lots of preparation, experience, and planning. We need to be self-conscious and honest with ourselves to know what are the areas of our life in which we can trust those guesses. We can develop the ability to listen to our intuition, as our subconscious mind processes much more information than what our conscious mind does. Our subconscious mind tries to reach us when necessary. But no matter how much experience we have, those are just guesses. It’s the way our mind works, and it serves us to always be aware of this.
People that guide their decisions based on these assumptions are betting their future on guesses, hopes, and expectations, which leads to a lot of frustration in life, and can even lead to something more serious, like paranoia.
The assumptions of a mememe person
The mememe person is a common character that we encounter in life. So common that we ourselves tend to play it very often in our own experiences.
And this is not something that we develop ourselves, it’s something taught to us by our culture is very gentle ways. A kid, for example, might be incentivized to show their new toys to everyone that visits the family or to repeat some fun behavior that they imitated and the parents found amusing. Everything is about their parents, and their parents make everything about them, to every person that they encounter.
From a very early age, we might be teaching our kids to search for external validation and attention. When they become teenagers all this attention and validation is gone and their world gets destroyed before they have any remote chance to understand what is going on. It can be very easy to fall into this trap, as we are proud of our children.
Some parents are able to focus on theirs children’s strengths, developing them, and honor their path and their growth. There are other ways that children can be given freedom to discover their own path, and each is individual in their own way. This is the job of us as parents to prepare our children for the world. This is where we can exemplify our core values, pass on our wisdom, and support them to be the best versions of themselves.
Some of why this comes about is because of our fear of rejection, also related to survival. This fear leads us to think that every bit of information that our conscious mind receives is about us. This goes very deep. It is so deep, that we might hear a word or two in a sentence and our mind will make a guess on what it means. This guess will have bias, because it assumes it’s about us, and it might interpret a completely different sentence than what was said, and we will remember what we think we heard.
It’s the same phenomenon that affects a message delivered when delivered through several different people. The first person receives the message, but makes guesses on what it means, and then translates the message to another person in their own words. The more people involved, the more the message changes. It doesn’t take too long to get a completely different meaning. This is where assumptions can have a huge detrimental effect.
The mememe person is a someone that has further to develop of their consciousness beyond themselves. In this process, we can start teaching our minds that it’s not all about us, that there are infinite other possibilities out there. We are protagonists in our own life, and we are observers that can also influence the script. It starts when we stop focusing on what our mind guesses things to be and start to pay attention to what is real and factual about the experiences we have.
Imagination is good, making assumptions is not. Understand that the guesses of your mind are just that, and use them to feed the first, not the second.
Traps of a fixed mindset
One of the biggest traps that a fixed mindset brings is the certainty that there’s only one answer. People with a fixed mindset have so much certainty of the existence of only one right answer for everything that they get immensely attached to anything they assume to be the truth.
How can their assumptions be wrong if it makes complete sense to them in their heads? Whatever they assume, it’s true. But this is a trap from a fixed mindset. There are two types of mindsets: growth and fixed.
With a growth mindset understand a person can grow, learn new things, become better with experience and face new challenges. Therefore they get excited about the unknown, curious about how to deal with it, and eager to experiment and grow.
People with a fixed mindset learned that you are whatever you are manifesting at this moment, unchangeable because you can only be one thing, so if you lie you are a liar, if you fail the test you are not enough, today and forever.
Someone with a fixed mindset tends to not risk dealing with the unknown, as they fear to find out they are not qualified to deal with it or will be embarrassed by not knowing, or failing at it. This keeps them stuck to what they believe they are naturally good or talented at. This limits them to being in a rut, repeating the same thing over and over again, not getting anywhere.
The good thing is that by understanding these patterns and their frequency we can be mindful of their manifestations in our lives and get to change them. When we understand why we do things the way we do and establish a compelling vision that drives us towards it, we can change these patterns with the force of our vision. We can create agreements that take us to frequencies that elevate our best.
What’s the alternative?
When it comes to areas where we may not have all the information, ask. There are several tools like doing research, ask for clarity, or reflective speaking. Each of these can help clear something up if there is ambiguity.
Doing your research may be looking into something by reading in a book, search online, find a magazine, or other resource. Good journalism is based on facts that are checked, sources that are vetted, and corroborating reports. A bit more digging may be necessary to get more of the bits of information to fill in the gaps, rather than our own guesses.
Asking for clarity is sometimes really necessary as well. “What was that?” can be a simple enough question if we didn’t catch everything someone said. “What did you mean by that?” is a bit more probing, and can be said from a place of care and concern to finding out what the person meant.
Reflective speaking is where you repeat back what you think you heard as a question. This can sound like, “I heard you say that… and it sounds like it made you feel… is that correct?” This can provide clarity for both people. It allows the first person to know how what they said comes across, as well as ensures better clarity for the listener. This can make some conversations tedious if it happens all the time. When needing to get really clear on something, it provides quite a bit of value.
The bottom line in each of these cases is, be willing to ask for more information if you are unsure.