Let's say Mr. ABC lived in the middle ages and whenever the door creaks at night when he sleeps, he freaks out. He goes to the local doctor and inquires about this occurrence. The doctor tells him that since he uses a metal door(out of the few ones available), the metal spirits are visiting him, and he needs to pay the local priest so they don't kill him someday.
This goes on and on, passed down throughout his generation until someday in the 19th century, one of ABC's descendants finds out that the metal door creaks because during the day, metal doors get heated by the sun which makes them expand, so they have to shrink to their normal size at night. And this caused the noise.
Even though their forefather, Mr. ABC had been scammed, the descendants wouldn't have to jump and cringe in fear every time they heard the door creak.
A Globe of Anxieties
The more you know, the more you become at ease, knowledge tames the wildest of beasts. Naval Ravikant mentioned a quote that the more you know, the more stoic you become. Not vice versa. Have you ever thought that knowledge could bring peace and calm to one's mind?
" The more you know, the more stoic you become. Not vice versa"
We live in a world crippled by anxiety and hasty assumptions. This inevitably hampers our focusing and decision-making abilities. It's either we jump from one hasty and expensive decision like Mr. ABC or we carry out our day-to-day activities without the peace and focus needed to live in our work and enjoy every joyous minute of it.
Isn't it funny that something this little like assuming could lead to a chain reaction of anxieties and limiting beliefs? Furthermore, assumptions could even go beyond leading us to believe wrongly about ourselves, to believe wrongly about people, and hamper our relationships.
These assumptions are so effective because we love authority as human beings. Any idea crafted by us will automatically get preferential treatment from us. It's natural.
The reason why I take issue with this is that we tend to discard any opposing decision once an assumption deep roots in our mind. There's also a confirmation bias to accept only what supports these assumptions.
Analysis of assumptions
" It is not that we doubt, it is what we doubt"
We should doubt ourselves a lot if you ask me. Not your abilities, but your beliefs. This won't come easy, but only through a process of self-awareness, humility, empathy, and proactivity.
Self-awareness to realize that we make a lot of assumptions, that we live by beliefs we hardly or never question, and that we let assumptions about philosophy, career, life, family, and more rule our world as our supreme truth.
Humility to embrace the fact that our assumptions are merely ideas and interpretations of things. Many of them can either be improved or are clear obstacles to achieving what we want for ourselves.
Empathy to appreciate that since we are working with assumptions as humans, everyone cannot be like us. To try to understand people's points of view and reasons for action. Remember, where you stand depends on where you sit.
" Where you stand depends on where you sit"
Proactivity to access already existing assumptions and see which help or obstruct you to becoming a better person. Analyse, add, remove, improve and go through this rigorous process every time it seems like you have an assumption on your hands.
A Curious Approach
If you notice, I have stuck to the term assumptions instead of beliefs. I believe that most of our beliefs are founded on assumptions from us or other people which we indoctrinate into our lives( this is also my assumption).
Assumptions are not wrong, good, or right as far as I am concerned. All I care about is if they are limiting or empowering. Since everyone defines limiting and empowering differently, I cannot assume they share the same definition as me.
Instead, trying to understand assumptions from us and others can provide an edge over our previous selves in day-to-day dealings.
The simple method suggested by this writer is to always ask why whenever something happens.
" to always ask why whenever something happens"
You might be wrong, but don't you think a little curiosity is better than downloading any explanation our myopic minds come up with? Question the reason behind a person's action, the reason why you came up with this reason, and the reason why it may be wrong or right. Also, scrutinize to identify the biases behind your explanations.
This might not be an efficient approach for you, but I bet this will train your mind to be more empathetic of others, approach your decisions analytically and become calm in the face of uncertainty and anxiety.
Something that helped me when I started using this mental approach was keeping a journal. Not a journal to write every morning but one to inspect your assumptions. Write down your beliefs about money, family, friends, people, sex, love, religion, god, drugs, society, and anything that matters to you.
Go through each one after the other, understand how you came about these beliefs, and the impact of these beliefs on your life, and adjust accordingly. This my dear friend will save you a lot of time you are going to need in your life to do stuff you love.
Assumptions are neither wrong nor right. For this writer, it is a matter of efficiency. Remember, in a world as complex, uncertain, and mysterious as ours, a definite conclusion is mostly an assumption at best.