Just now, I heard the sounds of crunchy food being eaten behind me, and I was concerned. Without going into too much detail, our family has been dealing with lots of sinus issues this week, and sinus gunk early in the morning tends to lead to upset stomachs. What's an age-old upset stomach helper? Plain saltines, one of the crunchiest, driest foods on American grocery store shelves. So, I assumed that Ann wasn't feeling well and was munching down some saltines.
Except, when I turned around, I saw she had a glass of orange juice.
Which is not upset stomach friendly. Not at all.
My first thought? My wife has lost her mind. How can she possibly think that's going to help? How am I going to get any work done when she's sick and making it worse? What is she thinking, and …..
You see the train-wreck of thought there, right? How one thought leads to another? How quickly a person can move from seeing one set of actions to questioning a person's whole motivation for behavior?
We do this repeatedly in this country. First we see an action that does not make sense to us, or that we simply don't like. Then we question the action, but that's often not enough. We then question the motivation of the person who does it. Finally, we go on to express how this one action shows that the whole world is out to get us or out to destroy this, that, or the other.
Either that, or we agree with an action and so build up the person behind it that we assume they are the single most wonderful individual in the world.
However you slice it, we tend to move quickly from a single observation to a complete assumption of people's character.
Except that it's invalid. And we should realize it. Think about your own behavior. Is there one thing you do that characterizes your whole person? Often there isn't. (Whether or not there should be is another discussion.)
As people, we need to learn to see what's actually happening and then proceed from there, not jump to conclusions.
This morning? It wasn't even saltines. It was a homemade granola bar. Which Ann was having for breakfast. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, the whole train-wreck of thought was invalid. She not only has not lost her mind when it comes to stomach ailments, she had no intentions of wrecking anyone's day, especially mine.
So, to consider….
Have assumptions ever gotten you into trouble?
What can we do to dial back our paranoia and take people at face value?