In a perfect world, there would not be any miscommunication. In a perfect world, everyone would get along. In a perfect world, people would do what they should do and then we would all live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, we live in a very flawed world. Although most individuals have grand intentions, there are certain things that never go as planned. Assumptions that we make, at the beginning of all relationships, can turn ugly and nasty. This is just the way that life works.
When we are talking about love interests, work relationships or friendships, we start with an idea about the other person, who is often a perfect stranger. We make an initial determination that they are kind or not, trustworthy or not, right for us or not, on the same page as us, or not. On the basis of those original ideas, we then begin to test out the waters and see if our ideas are on track.
Some people come across amazing, at first. They lead us to believe that they are a certain type of person, and we buy in. We begin to trust them, let them in and begin to feel comfortable being in their space and energy. We open ourselves us to them, put ourselves out there and send messages that we are in tune with them and the direction they are headed.
Over time, we either get closer or we drift apart. They will either live up to our preliminary assessment or they will not. Along the way, we get to make decisions to either continue on the path of this relationship, or not. They will either draw us in closer or repel us the other way. They will prove us right or they will prove us wrong.
Either way, a story begins to form about who they are, what makes them tick, what underlying issues are going on or if they are someone we want to spend more time with. Either way, the truth unfolds, when their authentic self emerges and we are the audience watching how it all develops. We become a fan or a critic. We are convinced or perplexed. We are in or we are out.
Once we begin to question our first impressions of this person, it becomes a slippery slope. Are we noticing things that are wrong, because we are looking for them or are we looking for things that are right, because we don’t want to be wrong? Are we seeing the real person appear before our very eyes, or are we creating an imaginary version of who they are, because we realize we got sucked into a lie?
Who is this person before us? Did we make assumptions about them and now we are baffled by how things are turning out? Did we make a mistake by choosing to get involved with this person? Should we have done something differently?
I once heard that we need to believe someone when they show us their true colours. We can’t get distracted by the facade; by the front they are putting on when they are on their best behaviour or when all is well in the world. When someone is under stress, they will show us who they really are. Are they still kind? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Do they blame everyone else for their troubles? Are they quick to anger and judgement?
When we are under stress, it is usually because there is something deeper going on. We have a tendency to overreact, blow, boil or become defensive when we think we have done something wrong ourselves.
Are we to blame for our troubles? Are we too quick to trust? Should we have been more careful? Are we spreading ourselves too thin? Are we accepting less than what should, out of desperation? Are we making decisions hastily because of pressure or a feeling of urgency? Are we overwhelmed from various responsibilities? Are we trying to be accepted or loved in order to validate our self-value?
Our interactions with other human beings on this planet will function in direct relation to how well we are able to communicate with our emotions and ourselves. When we doubt ourselves, we begin to doubt others. When we are disappointed in ourselves, we begin to be disappointed by others. When we are feeling overwhelmed, we will be overwhelmed by the chaotic energy of others.
In order for us to be in a healthy relationship, of any kind, we must be healthy ourselves. When we are unhealthy and our thoughts are toxic and negative, our relationships will be as well. When we are struggling, so will our relationships. When we lack good communications skills, so will our relationships. When we don’t have clarity and confidence, our relationships will be uncertain and insecure.
The only way we can fix our love relationships, work relationships or friendships is to fix ourselves. What do we need to do differently? What must we accept? What must we be assertive about? What do we need to say? Do we need to communicate better? Do we need to be honest about our feelings? Do we need to let some relationships go? Do we need to learn to be a better partner? Do we need to bring more clarity to our needs?
We assume that another person will be like us, think like us and act like us. When they don’t, it might mean the relationship is not meant for us. It also might mean that there is something that we need to change. If; however, we think that it means the other person needs to change, we are often fighting a losing battle.
Sometimes, when our relationships are strained, it is because the other person doesn’t have the capacity to do the things we need. Sometimes, there are mental health issues involved. Sometimes, the person doesn’t want to make things work. Sometimes, they just weren’t listening. Sometimes, we took certain things for granted. Sometimes, there is no hope for recovery. Sometimes, we need to move on.
Regardless of what is going on in the relationships that surround us, we are part of the problem, because we are allowing it. Sometimes, we are part of the solution because we can make some shifts. Sometimes, we just must accept that issues are not about us, at all, and it is about the other person and their battles.
Always, though, the best way to improve our relationships, is to improve ourselves. Improving how we handle and react to things and deciding to remove ourselves from the people and situations that are toxic and make us feel crazy, are all in our control.
Don’t assume anything. You just may get yourself into a situation that you are so far into, that you can’t see a way out. If you are new to a relationship, be cautious. Be careful. Be thorough in your investigation at the front end of all interactions, to avoid issues in the long run. Pay attention to the red flags, listen to your gut when things turn for the worse and stop often, to think things through.
If you are already so far in and you are clawing for a way out, take a deep breath, spend some quiet time by yourself, look at the big picture, decide what you must do to move forward, in a healthy way and then be specific, with the other person about what you need from the relationship.
Don’t assume. Clarify. Be very, very clear. Write it down, for yourself, if needed. Be sure that all parties are on the same page. Clarify again. Assess along the way and be smart about each step that you take. There is nothing worse than looking back and regretting decisions because you went too fast or with tunnel vision, especially when it appears that your version of events is far removed from someone else’s version of events.
Relationships involve at least two people who are connected with one another in some way, for some purpose, with some intention. Are you on the same page as they are? If not, time to stop and sift through the assumptions. It is in the assumptions that relationships make it or break it. ‘I assumed…’ is the root of many woes. What did you assume? As Dr. Phil would say, ‘How’s that working out for you?’
‘Assumptions are the termites of relationships.’ ~ Henry Winkler