Like many people, sometimes my daily exercise regimen consists of jumping to conclusions. It’s not always done on purpose but it still happens nonetheless. Working in an environment that requires me to make good decisions in a short period of time means that many times I have to arrive at a conclusion taking the short cut to get there. We all have some assumptions or preconceived notions that we use often to clear up some space in our brain. While I’m not saying that these assumptions are always bad, it’s important to recognize they exist and to periodically evaluate their relevance. I once observed someone who appeared to be very standoffish. I think everyone knows at least one person who appears very proud and is frequently annoyed when they have to associate with “common” people. Now, this person also had a name that sounded entitled (another assumption). However, all my assumptions ended once I had a conversation with this individual and discovered that the opposite was true. They really weren’t stuck up and happened to be genuinely compassionate and caring. Assumptions are based on perceptions that may not necessarily be true. That’s why it’s important to take the time to challenge them because you could miss out on getting to know someone amazing because of your assumptions.
It’s been said that the human brain remembers everything that has ever happened. While many times we may not consciously remember certain events, our brain can remember on a subconscious level. One thing that has always interested me is how certain things such as songs or smells can immediately made us think about an experience whether good or bad that we have associated with said song or smell. While this can bring back happy memories, for some it’s the start of a flashback of a traumatic event. In a similar way to how smells or songs bring back memories and transport our minds back to certain events, people can be a similar trigger. There are certain people who we are familiar with who we see again after a long period of time and instantly we remember our last interaction with them. The feelings and emotions surrounding that interaction also comes to the forefront of our mind–all from seeing the person or even seeing a picture of them. This experience can also affect our actions to those around us because we become caught up in our own memories to the point that it informs our present behavior. If it’s a pleasant memory, we may find ourselves responding more positively or genuinely to others who have had some part to play in the experience of the past. Many times, this can happen without a conscious thought because our brain hasn’t forgotten these moments. It’s in these moments where we sometimes create assumptions about someone that may or may not be true. These assumptions are rooted in our previous experiences with them even though it may have been years since we’ve seen them face to face. It’s my opinion that these assumptions can sometimes prove detrimental because we are operating off of previous memories, feelings, and emotions. One example of this is someone who takes back their ex-significant other because they remember all the good times they had and their selective memory blocks out the behaviors that made them leave him or her in the first place. The truth of the matter is that we can’t always afford to make these assumptions. While it’s indeed nice to associate a pleasant memory with a person we have to take into account that people change and also realize that we might have changed as well. Sometimes assumptions aren’t affordable because they leave us too exposed vulnerable to people who may not be exactly who we remember them to be. It’s a tough lesson to learn because it can be extremely hard to challenge the good memories you’ve had with someone with the new reality of who they are.