A while ago, I got my butt to a yoga class for the first time in a long time. Over the months, at my local studio, I had become friendly with a girl I often saw there. Every so often, we grabbed an iced coffee afterwards and had a great chat. One time she mentioned she was single and asked if I might know anyone for her. I told I would think about it (and I meant it)! A few mornings later I waved, smiled and went to give her a hug when I saw her rolling out her mat. I was not prepared for what happened next. Feeling hurt, she said, “Susie I was so worried I offended you or went too far in our talk last time.
“WHAT?!? No! Absolutely not! Why would you think that??!!!” I asked, surprised. She said she sent me a message recently and I didn’t reply. But I honestly don’t remember receiving it. It was a crazy week for me with the release of my book.
Despite clearing the air I couldn’t help but think during the entire class… What might all of us in this room (and everywhere) be holding onto that isn’t true? What suffering may we be inflicting on ourselves for no reason at all? It reminded me of the brilliant Mark Twain quote, “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
As an entrepreneur and former sales professional I am very familiar with getting knock backs and facing rejection. I think my resilience is my best quality. Here are my top tips for releasing wild assumptions that harm us and even (crazily!) keep us up at night.
1. Ask yourself – what if me feeling hurt isn’t about me at all?
Have you ever thought that if someone is not responsive, abrupt or even a little rude they might be going through some stuff that has nothing to do with you? Take yourself (and your ego) out of the equation for a second. One time I was really scared that my boss was upset with me because she didn’t talk to me for a few days and even avoided eye contact with me in meetings. It turned out she was getting fired!
2. If I did make a slip up, what did I learn?
Most minor slip-ups (which are the vast majority of mistakes) can benefit us by teaching us something. There is no such thing as a life without mistakes, so take something useful from each minor mishap if you can. Can you apologize quickly if you think you maybe did something wrong and find out the truth? Like in my yoga instance, the truth might totally surprise you!
3. Think – is this really a rejection/setback or is something better waiting?
How many times in life have you looked back and realized the job, the love interest, the apartment, were not meant to be yours as something much better arrived afterwards? I can say “check!” to hundreds of these experiences. It makes me laugh (often with relief) now.
4. Ask yourself: “Will I care about—or even remember—this in six months’ time?”
My guess: hell no! It will be a blip in your memory you probably won’t be able to recall, even if pressed. Test this theory: Can you remember what you were worrying about six months ago on this exact date? And if not, why worry now?
5. Read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Rules #2 and #3 are life changing:
#2. Don’t take anything personally.
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
#3. Don’t make assumptions.
“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
So if someone is intentionally unkind, snappy, or rude, it’s a pure reflection of them feeling like sh*t—not about you at all. Give them a pass. You can have a mini mental rant, and then let it go. It’s a massively empowering truth—and surprisingly simple! Other people’s behavior has nothing to do with you.
What assumption can you release right now? Or is there something you might like to clarify with someone? There’s no point in feeling upset. Don’t suffer. Ask questions. Don’t take things personally.
And if you succeed in any of this – please share your wisdom with us in the comments below!