Last Tuesday evening was freezing cold and so I felt very lucky that the cozy, yoga studio I go to is only a few doors away. As I was in the middle of my first ‘downward dog’, I glanced out at the illuminated garden and saw the most beautiful snowflakes falling. It was quite windy so each snowflake danced and moved independently, following its own unique path. To me, it seemed like each had a mind of its own and moved with a determination that its way was the best and most beautiful,
This week we look at the ‘Third Agreement’ by Don Miguel Ruiz: ‘Don’t Make Assumptions.’
“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
Don Miguel Ruiz
Making assumptions, according to Ruiz, is the single most destructive force to clear, human communication. Just as it seemed with the snowflakes, we assume that our path and opinion is the right one and we will go to great lengths to justify ourselves and our actions in this regard. Consider, for a moment, any conflicts you have had in your life, either on a personal or professional level. Often such unfortunate disputes stem from a misunderstanding rather than from bad intentions or malice.
We all see the world so uniquely that we forget our perceptions are different to everyone else, even those we believe know us best.
You know that feeling of hurt that arises when a person you are close to says something that upsets you and you assumed they would know not to say it? Feelings of hurt, disappointment and even betrayal can spring up because of the assumption you have made.
When we make assumptions about anything in life we are taking a risk.
We cannot know for sure know what another person is thinking and so in order to avoid making assumptions we must ask, verify and communicate clearly and unambiguously.
For many people, the root of deep unhappiness and low self-esteem is the fear of what other people will think of them. The ‘Third Agreement’ frees us from that inner torture. As with the snowflakes, most people are not thinking about us at all and are more concerned with their own issues.
I am training myself to be as clear as possible in my communication with clients and family and friends. If I don’t understand something, rather than making assumptions and jumping to a conclusion that could be a million miles away from what was intended, I stop and ask, “have I understood you correctly?” Stephen R. Covey in his celebrated book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ advises, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood,” and I am sure we can all learn from this.
This week, please don’t make assumptions and instead always try to seek clarity. When you add the ‘Third Agreement’ to first two (‘Be Impeccable with your word’ and ‘Don’t take things personally’) you are building a wonderful foundation for the relationships in your life to flourish. Most importantly, the relationship you have with yourself will be open, honest and full.
Next week we look at the ‘Fourth Agreement,’ ‘Always Do Your Best.’ No pressure there then!
Have a great week and as always please do share The Positive Habit blog with anyone you think could benefit. I’m always so happy to get your feedback – good, bad or indifferent, I don’t take it personally!!!
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