Saturday, November 7, 2015

Live and Learn--Don't assume

I was thinking about the title of my blog last night and how we learn throughout our entire lives. I thought I'd start sharing some of the things I've learned through living. I think you'll find most of these lessons are not unique to me, but things we all figure out one way or another.

The first: "Don't assume you know what others are thinking."

We observe others and from their actions, we assume we know what they're thinking. The problem is that we bring our perspective to the situation which can be different from that of the other person. Sometimes, this leads us to the wrong conclusion. This happens even in what seems to be the most obvious of situations (especially with kids).
An applesauce-lovin' Wally
(with wild hair)

Here's an example:

When Wally was a toddler, he loved yogurt and applesauce mixed together. We'd give him a bowl and he would quickly gobble it down. I was happy that he enjoyed this healthful snack. A recent conversation with an adult Wally, however, revealed that all was not as it seemed. It turns out that Wally liked applesauce but not yogurt so much. He kept eating because he was trying to see where the applesauce went. He said he was always disappointed because he never found it.

Wow. That was a surprise. I had never thought about the concept of mixing and when kids learn that. I just thought he liked applesauce mixed with yogurt. I was wrong.

This example helps me think twice before I judge what others say and do. When someone says or does something that I don't understand, I try to remember that maybe there's something going on that I don't know.

Have you ever been surprised when you learned the background behind what someone has said or done?


  1. That is a really good lesson that I keep relearning. Even in attempts at communication its so easy to misunderstand what someone else says, in email or text and react from my own perspective, my experience with those words. The older I get the more I learn how faulty communication can be and how difficult it is to communicate without judging responses from my own perspective.

    1. I think it's human nature to judge others. However, then we need to step back and ask whether we are being fair in our judgments. This is not always easy to do, but we can try. You have certainly had a lot of opportunities to interact with people who have seeming very different ideas about how to do things. I'm sure you've learned a lot from these situations.

  2. I would never have assumed that was what he was doing after mixing the two together. I am always wondering what small children are thinking

    The saddest one that comes to mind involved my grandson. His biological mother deserted him for the first few years of his life and he lived with his father and step mother. Anyway, his maternal grandparents would talk to him about her when he saw them and tell him how much she loved him. By the time he was three he began to act out. My son asked me to help being I studied psychology and see if I could figure out how to they could help him. Seeing how he acted out I thought he was hurt and felt deserted by her. Instead what came out was he was afraid she wasn't okay and wanted to help her but didn't know how to find her.

    Anyway, I suggested my son arrange for him to talk to a child psychologist or therapist to help him. There is a happy ending, the therapist helped him but his mother got her life turned around and has formed a good relationship with him today.

    1. I'm glad that your grandson is doing better. That was an awfully big weight for a little one to feel responsible for his mother's safety. And I think most adults would have assumed the same thing you did, and he was upset by her desertion. You just never know.

  3. I have been surprised countless times when I learned the back story. You know, that story you don't look for when you are busy judging?


What do you think?