Ideas that haven’t yet been confirmed by experience are considered assumptions, wherein you assume something to be true. So, what could these assumptions sound like? Maybe it’s, “What if they didn’t find what I was saying interesting?” or, “I didn’t explain that clearly enough…” or, “I probably said something wrong…” or, “I talked too loud so they probably think I’m rude…” or, “My manager seems angry. They definitely think I messed something up…” Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Keep in mind, assumptions can serve a function. They can prevent us from possible dangers and help us to avoid various difficult situations. But, they only go so far…
Thinking, “There’s usually more traffic in the morning, so I’ll take another route,” can be useful when you’re trying to get somewhere at a particular time. However, saying, “There’s usually traffic in the morning, with my luck I’ll definitely be late,” can create a lot of anxiety. Negative assumptions can cause us to worry even more, making it difficult to cope with the situation. Of course, we can’t control all our thoughts, but if we simply pause and ask ourselves: “What’s going through my mind right now?” or, “How does this help me?” these proactive questions can act to prevent negativity.
The way we perceive and interpret situations differs, as we’re all individuals with unique experiences. A situation that may bring joy to one person may be uncomfortable for another. This saves the world from monotony. Think about it… What if the whole world consisted of a single color? Or if all the gardens were only filled with daisies? What if we could only eat pasta for every meal? Or if it was only night or only day? Differences create a diversity of experiences that make being alive beautiful.
When met with challenging or unsettling situations, some of us see it as a game the universe plays, some of us as a lesson from a creator, and some of us think that life is mocking us. Because, from the day we’re born, we tend to seek reasons behind events. Maybe we believe everything comes back around to us if we grew up with an intense need to seek approval and to be loved. Or, maybe we question someone’s behavior, wondering whether or not they love us. We may assume that we’re being tested because of a mistake we’ve made or think that we’re being treated this way because we’re unlovable. We look first for our own shortcomings, our own mistakes. However, why now consider “spontaneity” first? Instead of realizing that this might just be one of life’s many ups and downs, that there may be another logical explanation, why do we immediately think it’s all about us? Although our thoughts enable us to see events and situations from our own perspective, how realistic is it to think that every situation is about us?
We often attribute what we experience in our personal relationships to something related to ourselves, something we caused. But, if you think about it in terms of reciprocity, wouldn’t the negative situations also require the presence of two (or more) people when it comes to relationships? Can we really be the cause of everything that happens?
It didn’t rain on the day you got your car washed because the universe is trying to get back at you, but rather because the conditions for rain were present. When your friends cancel plans with you, could you consider that it’s really just because something came up and not because they’re upset with you? Your relationship may have ended because you had mutual disagreements, not because you’re unworthy of love. And, yes… Your flight didn’t get delayed because of bad luck, it’s just bad weather… Evaluating these possibilities can allow us to arrive at realistic assessments and perhaps help us to calm down a bit.
Let’s say that we’re at the center of the world, our thoughts circling around us like the moon. They follow our orbit and continue to be there even if we don’t notice them. Everything that could happen, every possibility can weigh on us. We may hold ourselves accountable for the earthquakes and floods, but the world has a self-contained balance. By that I mean we should acknowledge the existence of situations that develop independently of us, that aren’t within our control.
Thoughts like, “I didn’t do well enough,” or, “I’m a failure,” or, “I won’t be able to handle this situation…” may cross our minds. And if we listen to them too closely, our mood can also dip into negativity. Thoughts like, “My manager didn’t seem pleased enough, she thought I was doing something wrong,” or, “My friend didn’t laugh very hard at my joke, they think I’m boring,” can have a negative impact on our mood by affecting our perception of reality and mental state during the day.
What if a friend of yours shared such thoughts about themselves with you? While you’re so prone to thinking negatively about yourself, you can see how you’d shift that perspective if you were trying to support a friend in a similar situation. We can often take a more objective view when interpreting a situation for someone else. So, what if you tried to interpret what’s happening as an outsider instead from your own perspective in such situations? What would you say if you were talking to yourself as you would a friend?
Of course, we’ll encounter situations like traffic, rain, and crowds. These aren’t actually positive or negative situations, but the immutable facts of life. It’s our automatic thoughts that qualify them as positive or negative. In other words, whether something feels challenging for us or we consider it as just another part of our everyday life may be related to our point of view, how we think about it.
It’s very important to recognize the source behind our thoughts and perspectives in situations over which we have no control. By knowing what makes us happy or unhappy in different scenarios, we can begin the process of shifting our perspective and thereby improve our overall mood. Sometimes acceptance is more helpful than trying to force something else to happen. For instance, rather than complaining about the rain on the day we had the car washed, reading a book with a cup of coffee while listening to the rain instead may bring a much different meaning to the situation. It can be more rewarding to enjoy the present moment because there’s a solution to the mud on our car, but we won’t be able to rewind a day spent in anger or sadness.
When we start to hold ourselves accountable for what’s happening around us, it can sometimes serve a more useful purpose to stop, try to discern our actual needs, maybe do a breathing exercise to calm the mind, and evaluate the reality of the situations at hand.
Translator: Ebru Peközer