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OK, last week’s mental vacay was exactly what I needed.  Time to re-focus on this mini 4-week blogging project…where are we now?  Oh yeah, Week #3.  Andddd, only a couple weeks behind given Tangent Time and my vacay.  This is part of what I love about blogging – no worries on things being behind because it’s just my words and the small handful of you who even read this or stumble in here accidentally.  Welcome…and welcome back, by the way!

So, cyber throat clearing, we’re on the 3rd of the Four Agreements book by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Don’t Make Assumptions.  Ruiz opens this chapter with a great summary:  “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”

So simple, and yet so profound.  That’s what I’ve really enjoyed about this book…it’s easy to read but mind blowing too.  Definitely one to keep on the nightstand, for I always discover new gems when I read chapters I’ve already read before.

All the sadness and drama in our lives stems from us making assumptions and taking things personally.  (Don’t take things personally is the Second Agreement, by the way.  That was a great one to ramble on about a few weeks back in here.)  See how these Agreements tend to build one upon the other?  Pretty cool. 

The poison that is called gossip – this is how we communicate in the dream of Hell, as Ruiz explains.  Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and we believe we are right about our assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. 

How often have we all made an assumption about something or someone, only to have been totally wrong later?  Our bubble bursts and we get mad, sad and the drama starts.  But let’s back up a minute…why do we even make assumptions in the first place?

Ruiz explains:  “It is very interesting how the human mind works.  We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe.  We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain.  It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself will make us feel safe.” 

So if someone doesn’t tell us something (and we don’t ask) we make assumptions and believe our own assumptions.  We also make assumptions about things we hear but don’t understand.  What a big, ticking time bomb this can be in relationships!!  Damn, haven’t we all been guilty of assuming our partner knows want we want, whatever it is?  “You should have known.”  Lovely way to start an argument.  We blame our partner but in reality we have no one to blame but ourselves.  We didn’t ask!

We don’t always ask partly because we assume that people see the world the same way we do…think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge and even abuse the way we abuse.  Ruiz says this is the biggest assumptions we humans make about one another.

Anyone else out there guilty of getting into a romantic relationship with someone, thinking your love will change them, change the things you don’t like about that person (and even deny there are maybe huge things out there that you don’t like about him/her?).  Raises hand…yep I sure have.  The truth is my love will not change anyone.  Neither will your love either, by the way.  Ruiz even quips that “real love is accepting other people the way we are without trying to change them.  If we try to change them, this means we don’t really like them.” I’m not sure I am 100% on board with that last sentence…need more thinking time here I guess.  Sure if there are huge things we don’t like then we have to wonder why we’re even involved in a relationship with that person.  But if it’s something silly like I don’t like the way he squeezes the tube of toothpaste?  Annoying maybe, but not a deal breaker.  Honey, can’t you squeeze the tube from the bottom, not the middle?  You won’t?  OK, I’m outta here.  Ridiculous, right?  I’m pretty sure that’s not what Ruiz meant…it’s just my mind conjuring up a funny scenario like that.  

Ask questions!  This is Ruiz’s wise advice to us all. Once we hear the answer we will not have to make assumptions because we will know the truth. 

But we need the courage to ask for what we want.  Sure, it one’s right to tell us yes or no, but that’s also true for what others ask of us.  The Right to Ask is everyone’s Right.  I’ve chickened out of asking sometimes throughout my life, I admit, and a lot of times when I’m dating someone.  Why?  Was I afraid of what the answer might be (as in NO)?  Was I afraid of being rejected, and even at risk of ‘losing’ that person out of my life?  Didn’t want to rock the boat?  Wasn’t sure how to articulate what I wanted and didn’t want to risk being seen as stupid, needy, high maintenace, whatever?  Yep, probably.  Aha, I assumed how the person would react and therefore did nothing and probably got resentful later.  BINGO. 

So once again, Ruiz nails it with another great chapter in his book.  I’m going to continue working on this – it’s a lifelong process for sure – and find the inner courage to ask, ask, ask!