Life is full of “unknowns”, so we all speculate and assume what we don’t know. We make decisions despite that and to the best of our guesses.
The same applies to our relationships with other people. We all hold certain assumptions towards other people (partner, close friends, or distant acquaintances). We give these, too, their share of wild “guesses”.
If we’re the suspicious type, we’re likely to have assumptions of negative intentions. We doubt what others are up to despite their disclosure. We’re uncertain about what they hide behind a probable facade they wear & distrust the truth of what they share or declare. We assume otherwise just to beware…
The assumptions that we have today are beliefs and expectations about reality which we developed at some point in the past.
While some of these assumptions can be constructive or harmless, other assumptions have the ability to destroy the relationship and trigger the whole chain of tragic events.
A mere assumption that his wife had an affair leads Alex, the main character in The Banishment, to force his wife to make an abortion in a hope to re-build their relationship and save their marriage once this unborn baby is out of the way. As the result of that mere assumption he loses everything: his baby, his wife, his family. Pure lack of communication takes a deadly turn…
It can be difficult to recognize assumptions because they tend to be buried deep in our subconscious minds where they become ingrained with our personal worldview.
Take as an example Othello – a highly respected Venetian state servant, a Moor with an exotic cultural past. As Peter Winsley points out, Othello is a truly admirable man whose achievements and successes are due to his own abilities and efforts rather than blood-line and inheritance. Why this admirable military leader, successful man with a bright strategic mind falls pray to Iago’s insinuations?
Iago’s detects and exploits Othello’s insecurities, causing him to falsely suspect people around him. He intuits that Othello feels insecure due to his racial identity, especially given that he has married a beautiful white woman, and manipulates Othello into self-destructive behaviours. He plays on Othello’s self-doubts, subconscious assumption and fear that he is not good enough for Desdemona because of his racial identity and that if someone “better” comes along, Desdemona would prefer that person over him.
It takes just a few seeds of self-doubt to grow and overwhelm Othello’s trust in himself, in others, and in the world…
As Charles Gosset points out, it is easy to “assume” that our assumptions are just the way things are for us and that there’s nothing we can do to change them. However we all have the power and ability to challenge and change our negative assumptions once we first learn how to spot these slippery tricksters.
What are your assumptions?