Ever wondered why can't you do actions that you want to do, but don't do?
eg, You want to exercise, but you don't. You want to learn music, but you don't.
When you look deeper, you will always find a benefit of not doing the action based on an assumption.
By their very nature assumptions are things that we accept to be true without knowing their veracity.
And when the assumptions are “implicit”, (also called pre-suppositions) - there are several layers to be uncovered before you understand why you do what you do.
Finding our assumptions gives us leverage in changing our actions.
It also helps us in developing self awareness & conscious choice.
Auditing our assumptions can help retain those that lead to productive behaviour and let go of those that make us un-resourceful. It pays to really pay attention to our assumptions especially when we feel stuck.
Some of the common types of assumptions I have noticed over several coaching conversations are given below:
1. Hidden assumptions: These are subconscious assumptions that the person is not consciously aware of and need a little digging/reflection to surface.
I procrastinate [as I believe I can focus only if there is a deadline].
I don't present well [as I believe that talking about my work is marketing and I rather do my work.]
Hidden assumptions most often lie beneath unproductive behaviour like procrastination, lack of presentation skills, influence skills etc. If you do not know why you are doing what you are doing even if you don’t want to do it - most likely there is a hidden assumption.
Questions to ask yourself to uncover the hidden assumptions
What is the benefit/comfort am I getting by doing the unproductive/ unliked behaviour? What do I believe about this? What do I value about this? Whats the cost I have to pay for doing this?
2. Un-communicated assumptions:
Some people know consciously what they value/assume. However, they are poor in expressing it. It takes others several tries to figure what they value by trial and error.
Eg: Why are you late? [Time is a valuable resource, we would not waste it]
Sorry, I am late [Helping someone in distress is more important than coming on time.]
Questions that help bridge communication gap.
What is left unsaid in my communication? What has to be true for what I said to be true? How can I voice it?
3. Unquestioned assumptions : There are some beliefs we do not want to negotiate/ question. Sometimes we make the mistake of assuming all others hold the same belief/ all others have to hold the same belief.
Eg: It takes 10000 hours to master a craft [as mastery is a journey and it takes time].
Questions to check unquestioned beliefs
If I am a curious child/ wise person - what would I question about the point I just made? If I had a memory reset machine - and forget all that I know and look at this - what would appear weird/different about what I just said?
4. Un-imaginative assumptions
There is a child alive in all of us and sometimes its memories have been formed when its internal resources are limited. With the limited resources, a child could form assumptions which would have appeared to be true in its context & age.
Age old assumptions we don’t drop as we grow are unimaginative assumptions - eg: I don’t want to plan [because if it doesn’t work out, I will feel bad.]
Questions to uncover un-imaginative assumptions
When did you first realise this could be a possibility? With the resources you have now, would you still choose to believe in it?
Being aware of our assumptions can catapult us to a different orbit. It can give a leap in our thinking & enable us to have more choice.
When you feel stuck, ask yourself, what do I assume to be true? Is it really true?