Talking with a friend the other night and she told me she took her 16-year-old son to get his driver’s permit. He was so excited to finally get behind the wheel and taste the freedom of the road. After his first experience driving in the school parking lot with his dad, he was filled with questions. She said he must have asked a half a dozen questions about driving and rules of the road and he only had one-hour experience. It was cute. But it struck a chord in me. It reminded me of my childhood where it wasn’t safe to ask questions, so I had to figure things out on my own. We are raised in the false premise, that if you loved me you would know what I need. I learned at a very early age to assume things instead of being okay with not knowing and asking for clarification.
My conversation also made me think about the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. Ironically, earlier that same day I read the chapter titled, “Don’t Make Assumptions”. Coincidence. Just maybe. The author speaks about the importance of asking questions to understand. He says that so many disagreements and misunderstandings arise when we refuse to ask out of the assumptions that we already know what someone means. Making assumptions is based on our past experiences and aren’t usually relevant in the present situation. So, by assuming we know and refusing to ask questions we create separation and discord.
First, get in the habit of asking yourself questions. This will make it easier to ask others. Ask, what do I want? How do I want to look at this situation? How is this serving me? Whatever you need is all within you anyway but usually, it's covered up by doubt and fear and lack-based patterns of thought. Seek to understand more deeply because when we don’t understand we create automatic assumptions about a person, place or thing. That assumption if perpetuated becomes a belief and then creates a whole story around what we think is true. But, is it?
We are raised in the false premise, that if you loved me you would know what I need.
So, the next time someone does or says something you don’t understand, stop. Take a breath and yield for just a moment before the assuming takes hold and goes into storytelling mode. Ask for clarification. Ask for guidance. Ignore your mind if it’s telling you that you should already know what they mean. Find the courage to ASK, to give yourself permission to not know. Let go of control and be free at that moment of past assumptions. If we made this one agreement a practice, don’t make assumptions, all our relationships would transform before our eyes. Because when we give ourselves permission to be curious and ask, we also make others feel safe to open up and then ask us questions in return. And isn’t that what connection is about?