I recently decided to start a podcast to explore the topic of Truth. In my mind as I currently have it, this will be a six-part series entirely focused on the workings of the inner voice. Below is the transcript for episode 2. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.
Transcript to the Podcast:
Episode 3: You Know What They Say About Assumptions…
Welcome to Always Say the Unsaid, my name is Maria. This is a podcast that aims to explore truth in a very personal way, because I believe that we can’t lead meaningful lives if we aren’t living from a place of truth. This podcast is also a challenge to me personally to walk the talk, and to put into practice the art of living truthfully.
Today I want to talk about assumptions, which is probably a weird topic when paired with the subject of truth, but I think it’s relevant. I’ll tell you why.
I had this moment a few months ago when I found myself walking in circles around a mall, absolutely fuming and definitely not enjoying myself. I couldn’t find what I needed which was irritating me even more. And the entire time I was blaming it on my poor husband. Why? Because I was shopping for a dress for our daughter’s music recital at the last minute, because I didn’t know about it in advance. Because I felt he should have told me about the dress code for the recital.
And when I backtracked over the entire situation – first, he told me about a recital, I assumed it was on zoom, 2nd he told me it would be I’ve in person, I assumed it would be a small affair at the instructor’s home, 3rd he told me it would be a bigger to-do at a church, I assumed any old outfit would do – I suddenly realized that the common thread stringing everything together was my assumptions over the entire situation. I never asked any questions, I only ever assumed. And it was my assumptions, not my husband’s lack of forthright communication, that led to me roaming the mall in a huff.
I realized that I needed to take responsibility for my own thoughts, rather than pass the buck.
And I realized that this is what assumptions are… it’s us setting ourselves up to be wrong, and then passing the blame onto someone else when we are.
Assumptions are a bit of a mind fuck, and they keep us from being honest, and from viewing the world with honesty. This is why I felt like this was an important topic to discuss over this podcast, because obviously, if it keeps us from being honest, it’s keeping us from the ultimate truth.
Let’s be more specific. What are the things we often assume that keep us removed from honesty? Off the top of my head, these are some examples:
-that someone is mad at us, maybe because they haven’t responded to a text fast enough
-that we’ve offended someone
-that a person or people don’t like us
-that they think we didn’t do a good job on a project because they didn’t immediately shower us with praise
-that a person giving us a look is judging us, when maybe they\re just lost in their thoughts and happen to be looking our way
-that we’re going to get into a lot of trouble over something we did…
This last example happened in my home yesterday. My daughter did something she shouldn’t have done, not on purpose, she was goofing off as kids do, but not really thinking about what she was doing. In the process, someone got a little hurt. And my daughter, who hates getting in trouble, went straight into worst case scenario, and assumed all the worst things that could possibly happen to her at school, all the worst consequences… and given that the other child that got a little hurt was our son, her brother, we knew none of any of that was actually going to come true.
But anyway, back to the list, the constant there is that they are all negative. When we make assumptions, more often than not they are about bad things… they play to the negative tapes in our heads. We don’t assume, wow, that person really loves me… I mean that could happen, but it isn’t the norm.
And when I think to the moments in my recent life where I felt pain, stress, anxiety, frustration, or sadness, I think that most of those instances, causing all of those feelings, can be linked back to assumptions made in my mind. Fabricated stories I told myself, without bothering to verify the details. And that’s on me. I can’t blame anyone else for those feelings, I need to take responsibility there.
I mentioned Byron Katie in the last episode, and I would like to go into her work in more detail here, because it fits perfectly with this notion of causing ourselves pain based on stories we tell ourselves, and stories we choose to listen to.
Byron Katie developed something called The Work, which is a series of 4 questions to be applied to our thoughts, and a final turnaround at the end. The intention of the questions is to show us, if we are ready and open to the truth, how our thoughts are not the same as our reality. Katie says that she is a lover of reality, because in reality there is no pain.
The work is simply this: Judge your thought, write it down, ask 4 questions, turn it around. That’s it. It’s so simple, and if you read Katie’s book A Return to Love, you will see how simple it really is. Yet, for me, I think this is the single most powerful book that I have read this year.
I’ll use the example above to show you how it works.
So, take something that causes me frustration and write it down. My statement might be, My husband never tells me the information I need to know to get things done on time for our family.
Then I ask the 4 questions. Question 1, is it true? Well, I’ve already determined on this one that it isn’t true, it was all a figment of my assumptions, so I can safely say no, this statement or judgement that I often repeat to myself is actually not true.
Question 2, can I absolutely know it is true? Well, I’ve already determined it isn’t.
Question 3, how does this thought make me feel? It makes me feel stressed out, frustrated, out of control, and like I need to rush.
Question 4, how would I feel without this thought? I would feel calmer, more at ease, like I didn’t need to worry about time, generally more relaxed… and I can feel that, as I’m saying this, I can feel it in my belly.
And now, the turnaround. This can be a 180 degree change, for example, My husband always tells me the information I need to know to get things done on time for our family. If that one doesn’t feel 100% authentic, then I can always try another. For example, I always tell my husband what information I need to know. This one makes me feel more uncomfortable, but I actually think it\s more accurate. Because by not asking questions for more details, he’s only giving me the basic info he thinks I want or need.
The point here is to recognize that it’s our thoughts that cause us pain, and when we analyse them, at the end of the day, we can save ourselves from this pain by focusing on the reality, the truth of the situation.
And when you’re not bogging your mind down with all these false stories, assumptions and judgments, you’re leaving yourself free to hear more of the true voice that’s within you, the voice of your own consciousness. Without distraction, your own voice becomes more clear.
I’m going to be honest, doing The Work is work. You have to do it continuously, consistently, if you want to notice a difference, and if you are truly seeking peace in your own mind. It’s exercising a lesser used muscle, it won’t come easily to you at first. It will feel like a struggle, tedious, difficult. But then maybe one day, you’re looking at your kid who is refusing to brush his teeth, and seeing beyond the fact that he’s not listening to you, and all the ego and control stuff that normally goes along with that fact. Maybe one day, when you would normally be immediately irritated as soon as a coworker opens their mouth, this time you just feel calm. And maybe one day, despite your tumultuous relationship with your mother, you end up feeling compassion.
And the next day you might go back to judging, and you have to start all over again. But it gets easier, each time you practice, it gets easier. I haven\t even been doing it for that long, but I can see it already.
Circling back to assumptions, try the work the next time you catch yourself assuming you know what’s going on with someone else. For example, The next time you assume that someone is mad at you, but you haven’t asked them about it, ask yourself, is it true? If you haven’t asked and they haven’t told you, then the only answer can be no, because you cannot absolutely know it to be true. Immediately you’ll be relieved of the stress over feeling someone is mad at you. Go through the remaining questions, then the turnaround. So and so is NOT mad at me. That is the truth.
Gawd, it’s just so simple……… who knew it could be so simple….
Again, what I love about this is that my mind, my energy, is freed from the chains of all the false stories, and what a difference that makes in this journey toward inner truth.
On the next episode, I’d like to discuss courage. Although the inner voice is always the first to say the unsaid, it takes a great deal of courage to actually pay attention. See you next time.