How our assumptions can trip us up

Recently I looked after my son’s dog while he and his wife went on vacation.  As a young family, we had a golden retriever who was our pet for the 13 wonderful years she was alive on this planet.  She was a beautiful animal who was loved by all of us and was a friend to the neighbourhood.  One of her less endearing qualities was her yen to wonder, a quality which conditioned me to anticipate where she might go if and when she escaped our yard.  I got really good at this.

Our son and daughter-in-law now have a golden retriever Luca, a male, who is handsome and very well-behaved at 14 months.  I loved to take him for long walks every day.  One day on our routine walk he ran into a large clump of bushes and became instantly invisible.  I heard a few rocks fall down a hill about 40 feet from where he had disappeared.  I was anticipating where he was going and decided he had run up the hill and had caused the rock to move.  I moved along calling his name and finally found a place that was gently sloped where I was able to climb up above.  I was nervous because the main road was about 150 metres away and terrified he had run that way.  Fortunately light snow was falling so I could look for his tracks.  I kept calling his name and walking back towards where I thought he had run to.  No sign of him.  I kept climbing until I got to a side road close to the main road and walked it both ways, calling his name.  There were no paw prints in the snow.  He had not gone this far.  I climbed back down the hill, looking for paw prints and calling his name.  When I arrived back where I started and had still not found him I was in a panic.  I ran home and got the car and his favourite squeaky toy.  I slowly drove back retracing my steps, calling his name and squeezing the toy to make the squeaky sound.  As I drew close to where he had disappeared he came running out of the bushes and down the hill.  He was safe!!!

I realized he had gone nowhere.  Luca was not a wanderer.  I assumed based on our last dog that he would do the same and wander off.  How wrong I was!  My assumption had taken me to a place of panic, one that was totally unnecessary.  I began to watch him at our place, content to play with sticks in the garden on his own, sniff for whatever and walk back and forth to the lake when he was thirsty.  He had no desire to wander.  I had held onto an assumption that served me with one dog and 20 years later no longer served me.  I was able to let it go and appreciate this dog for his own unique and charming ways.

What assumptions have you made in your day-to-day life?

How could these assumptions be creating unnecessary complications in your life?

What can you do to test such assumptions and learn from your reflections?

We want to hear your story and how your assumptions have been serving you.  Email us at kirsten@coachingculture.ca or leave a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “How our assumptions can trip us up

  1. There is a great lesson here! Thanks for your story! Glad to know I’m not the only one who negatively assumes sometimes.
    I was teaching one day and one of my darlings was drawing a picture of a face that took up the whole page. I asked, “Who are you drawing?” and she replied, “You. I’m drawing Sue”. Touched, I kept watching the picture unfold. Suddenly, she drew a large circle mouth and colored it in a deep shade of red.
    I asked, “What am I doing?”.
    She answered, “Yelling”.
    Yelling? I was shocked. I have never yelled at these kids! I felt like burying my head under the sand – is this what they think of me? This mean, aggressive teacher? I was so hurt. I nearly walked away, but I needed to figure out why she was drawing this.
    “What am I yelling?” I asked shyly.
    She smiled and said, “HOORAY! You are yelling Hooray!”
    I can’t tell you how big I smiled after that happened. I’ve kept the picture hanging in the classroom for 3 years now to help remind me not to assume anything and to always ask that extra question to make sure I completely understand what is being communicated to me.

  2. What a wonderful example of how asking questions can help gain clarity and test those assumptions!! Congrats for having the courage to deep dipper and ask what it was about when instinctively you wanted to walk away. Great learning and reminders to all of us.

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