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April 13, 2020
Census is Asking the Public to Help Fight Misinformation Ahead of ...

In these weeks of isolation and captivity, I’ve found myself wondering where and to whom I should look for actual information. It’s not like there’s not enough information out there. That’s not the problem. I’ve got gigabytes of information at my fingertips. thanks to Google and thousands of sites on the Internet. The problem is that there’s so much information out there it’s overwhelming. I don’t know how to sift through it and find the real, actual information.

No offense, but if you’re not having a similar difficulty, you may not be thinking for yourself enough. Either that, or you’ve found reliable sites I haven’t found. I guess there’s another possibility. You may have a much more accurate sniffer than I do, and you can just tell the difference between fact and fake.

I’m a political conservative. You’ve probably already picked that up, though I’ve tried pretty hard not to be political with these posts. It could be my conservative bent that accounts for my low level of trust for most news sources. I’d like to think it’s also because I try to be a thinking individual and actually want to discover the facts and then make my own decision about what the facts mean, as opposed to having a particular agenda (conservative, liberal or somewhere between) more or less crammed down my throat.

It’s interesting to me that no matter what the issue is, conservatives feel their point of view isn’t being represented, or that it’s being disrespected and disregarded by media, and liberals and progressives think the same about their point of view. Did I write “interesting”? I think I meant exasperating. It’s a conflict and anger cycle that fuels itself.

I find this to be true in marriages, too. Not in terms of political views, but about feeling and assuming one’s perspectives and points of view aren’t being respected and accounted for. My experience as a counselor and a husband is that very nearly all marital conflict comes from untested assumptions. These untested assumptions are almost always wrong.

At one point, I thought the key was to eliminate assumptions and that would make conflict go away. Assumptions were the enemy, so just get rid of them. I don’t think this any more.

Assumptions are essential. If you had to make individual, processed decisions about everything in your life, you’d burn your brain up. When I flip the light switch, I don’t consciously process the passing of electricity through the switch and to the light. I just assume the light will come on. When I get in my car and start a drive to anywhere, I don’t process all the things that have to happen for an internal combustion engine to work and for me to reach my destination safely. I just assume that the car will start and I’ll be safe and will get to my destination fine. We assume thousands of things every day. God gave us the ability to make these assumptions as a gift.

The problem is that there are some things that are much harder to make accurate assumptions about than light switches and cars. At the top of this list is HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS. The reason is pretty simple. There are so many more variables with human relationships than with most all the other assumptions we make.

I’ll get to the bottom line here. The problem isn’t that we make assumptions. It’s that we don’t test and verify our assumptions. We tend to treat our untested, unverified assumptions as fact. Often in human relationships, they’re not facts. Lots of times, they’re not even close. This is the problem. Conflict often happens when we act on our untested, unverified assumptions as though they were facts.

Most of us make more assumptions than we think we make, usually in the form of mind reading. That’s what running with our assumptions amounts to. We assume we know the meaning, the motive, the intent of someone else without testing it or verifying it.

Debbie and don’t have a perfect marriage. We’re humans who make mistakes. I make untested assumptions and so does she. But after being married 45 years (46 next month!), we’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what each other thinks and feels. As in I bet we’d be around 75% accurate in the mind reading department. This may not be a world record, but it’s better than average.

If you got on an airplane and were handed a parachute and told it’s very reliable – that it works 75% of the time – how confident and secure would that make you? I’d say, “No thanks. When’s the next plane depart? And do they have any parachutes that have 100% reliability?”

You see the connection here, don’t you? The best you’ll ever do with mind reading will be less than 100%. And that means that your assumptions will be less than 100% accurate. Even if you’re really good at mind reading and feel you have the spiritual gift of discernment.

I’ve changed my approach from eliminating assumptions to eliminating mind reading. I’m OK with making assumptions as long as they’re tested and verified. But the problem is that we sometimes don’t even know we’re making assumptions. It’s so much a pattern for us, we don’t notice it.

But you better know that the other people in your life know it. Your spouse knows it. Your kids know it, if they’re old enough to do abstract thought. It’s probably not right to say that everybody in your life knows it, but I’ll say that all the significant people in your life – those close to you – who are old enough to think like adults know. What this means is that there are lots of people who are getting the backwash of your assumptions. Most of the time, it’s toxic.

So here’s my challenge to you. Make it a goal that you will eliminate mind reading. You do this by testing your assumptions.

This takes courage, but it’s not rocket science. You don’t need an advanced degree in human relations or communications. Here’s a simple line to start with: I need to check an assumption.

You don’t have to apologize. You don’t have to dance around the subject. You don’t have to be diplomatic (although in some cases it will be helpful if you can figure out how to do it diplomatically). You can be direct if you’re respectful.

If you test your assumptions before you drag them into an encounter, trust me, you’re much more likely to get good out of it. And when this becomes a pattern for you, your relationships will be empowered and set free to grow and thrive.

From → Marriage, Parenting

  1. Marianne M Morgan permalink

    Steve….I was in mid-comment and apparently hit a key and it went away! Typical of my computer skills…. Anyway, if you got the first bit let me know and I”ll continue; if not, no biggy. I was getting long winded. Quarantine side effects I think.

  2. I didn’t get your first comment. Sorry. I’d like to have read it! Thanks for reading my stuff, Marianne.

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