So, let’s talk about what’s going on in your head…
Our minds have a need to explain and understand everything in order for us to feel safe. This means that when we don’t know something, our minds automatically try to figure out the answer; to fill in the blank. This is based on our survival instinct as the nervous system will not relax when there is an unknown or a space to be filled in. This often presents itself as a deep need for certainty.
Simply having an answer helps to calm the reasoning and explaining brain, and in order to gain that calming benefit, it doesn’t matter if the answer is correct or not. The nervous system can relax simply from the blank being filled in. Physically, in a yoga class for example, we can gain the same relaxing effect in the nervous system when the body is propped up and gaps between the body and the floor are filled in with blankets, blocks, bolsters, etc. Again, it’s all about filling in the blank spaces.
In an effort to fill the void in our minds, we often make assumptions about others, about the world around us, and about ourselves. Once we have made the assumption, the brain then accepts that information as truth and we move forward as if we have the correct answer. We act based on this assumption and this can get us into trouble.
Have you ever made an assumption and then later found out that it was totally off base? For example, perhaps you saw an acquaintance in a store, called their name, and they just walked by like they didn’t even know you. One possible assumption would be that your acquaintance thinks they are better than you and “too good” to be seen talking to you. You then move forward as if this assumption is the truth and when you next see that acquaintance, you try not to engage, you cut your interaction short, and you may even make a remark about not having time to talk to them. When you do finally take the time to speak with the acquaintance about your experience in the store, you find out that they had in earbuds and simply did not hear nor see you there.
We also make assumptions that other people think, feel, process, and judge the way that we do. This is one reason we may be apprehensive about putting ourselves out there as our authentic selves because we know how harshly we judge ourselves and we assume that others will do the same.
So what can we do? We must gather more information to help fill in the blank rather than make the answer up in our heads. Creating our own answers is a misuse of our imagination and it more often than not leads to worry, stress, and relational issues. Gathering more information means asking for clarification, communicating openly with others, expressing your needs, and pausing rather than jumping to conclusions.
And in the meantime, we must tap in to our own intuition and trust that deep inner wisdom. This may look like meditation, prayer, breathing, journaling, walking outside, etc. Sometimes our deep inner wisdom simply tells us that we need more information and sometimes it tells us the answer. But, tuning in to all of our ways of knowing and having faith rather than making up the answer will help alleviate our need to go back and make repairs after reacting based on assumption.
Give it a try this week. Start to notice when you fill in the blank by making assumptions and pause there. Breathe. Gather more information and then move forward.
I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,