The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

What We Make Up

There are a lot of things I think I know.  I think I know why my friend was in a bad mood yesterday (I did something to make her mad).  I think I know what my daughter needs even though she lives 750 miles away (she needs advice from me). I think I know why the mail carrier didn’t pick up the package I left out for pick-up today (he’s lazy).  I think I know why my friend Greg hasn’t answered an email from me in two years (he doesn’t like me anymore because I was snappy to him when we were both getting laid off three years ago).  I think I know how Sandra Bullock felt when she heard that her husband was cheating on her (she was devastated). 

Wow, am I a mind reader?  Pretty amazing that I know all these things, isn’t it?  And, unless I question my presumption that I’m right about all this information that I really have no idea about, I’ll act on my assumptions.  I’ll get defensive with my friend (making her feel worse than she already does about whatever’s really bothering her), give my daughter unwanted advice, act snippy with the mail carrier, feel guilty when I remember Greg, and worry about Sandra Bullock. 

We actually know very little about each other but we tend to presume a huge amount.  We make all sorts of assumptions based on what we’re told by others, what we read in the newspapers and magazines, and what our intuition tells us.   We’re social beings – we like information, we like to know what’s going on, and what we don’t know we’ll make up or accept as truth what others have made up.

It feels harmless, assuming information about others.  But at a minimum we waste time and energy addressing or passing on our misconceptions.  At the worst we cause problems by reacting to what we imagine is true. We’ve all done it, lashed out at someone we thought meant us harm and later found out they were blameless.  Or assumed that information we heard at work was true and took action that ended up doing damage.

This is a tough one for me, because even though I know that I can’t read my daughter’s or Sandra Bullock’s minds, part of me still believes that what I’ve made up about them is true.  And once something makes it into the “I know because I know” category, we tend to block out all other information, even if (or especially if) it contradicts what we believe.  

So if we find that we simply can’t ignore our assumptions, or if we really, really think they’re true, we still need to take them with a grain of salt and leave space for the possibility that we may not be correct.  Because unless we stay open, there’ll be no place for the truth to land when it finally does show up. 

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11 responses to “What We Make Up

  1. MDTaz March 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Just what I needed to read today.

  2. Marissa March 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Wow. I was just thinking about this issue today. Thanks for the advice, lady!

  3. Dawnika March 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Absolutely good advice!

  4. Anonymous March 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    It’s taken a number of decades & a few enbarrasing moments to come to that same conclusion !

  5. Sam Ben-David April 1, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Hello Melinda, I came to know about through your comment posted somewhere on the other site. I just clicked your blog url and read some of your postings. I specially liked the relationship categories. Thanks. wish to be here frequently!

  6. Melinda April 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Marissa and Dawnika – I find that this advice is tough to follow but really freeing! Thanks for your comments :)

    Anonymous – nice to hear from you, hope to see you back!

    Sam – Welcome! Thanks for the comment, and I’d love to hear more from you.

  7. farouk April 5, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I strongly agree Melinda,
    our minds were designed to fill gaps and we tend to provide explanations so situations even when we don’t have enough information. its gr8 that you point this out, thank u:)

  8. Maryann April 5, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Love this theme. Certainly is a great reminder to return to our center. Is it true that our intuition is dangerous and that we can’t change a belief? What say you?

    Maryann

    • Melinda April 8, 2010 at 7:40 am

      Nope, that sure isn’t what I’m saying, thanks for pointing out that my post was conveying that message! I’ve re-written it to, hopefully, say what I want to say a bit more clearly. What do you think?

  9. David July 2, 2011 at 12:03 am

    I wish I had read this a long time ago. I’ve had a big problem with jumping to conclusions about people and then expressing them, especially after researching the MBTI- thinking that I’m an INFJ and reading that they are “usually right”.

    Some MBTI articles have made Ni sound like almost like a “godlike” function. I’ve said to myself recently, “You know what? You really don’t know everything.”

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