Since last week I’ve been thinking a lot about assumptions. About the way we create a story in our heads before anything has shown that to be the case. About how our brains feel the need to fill in the blanks at all times, even if we have no data to support that fill in. This is one of the things that makes us so powerful and intelligent, because our minds are meaning-making-machines. They are built to figure things out, and I personally love that so much. (If you know me, you know sometimes I love it too much!). And yet, I would say it’s also the thing that gets us into the most trouble, and causes us the most suffering.
This week I’m teaching a yoga class focused on transitions. In yoga, it’s really easy to hear a pose name, picture the pose in your head, and just hop into it, assuming it’s going to feel the same way it did before, or hoping that you are are magically able to get it better this time. But if we just focus on the pose itself, we often end up throwing ourselves off, or skipping some essential safety steps/building blocks of the pose. This is how we get injured, or how we plateau at a level of the pose because we don’t have the actual foundation to go further. Essentially, it’s easy to fake the end result, but in actuality, the process of getting there IS the thing that makes the pose.
Now this not me saying the same old “enjoy the journey” concept. Although, yes I hope you do. It’s more about the fact that if we actually do want the end result to be successful, sustainable, and enjoyable, we HAVE to go through the journey intentionlly. We have to be present in it, make decisions within it, and be aware and patient with each step we take.
In yoga, this looks like really setting things up from the ground, moving mindfully, each movement creating the foundation for a piece of the pose. It requires a deep awareness of the body, coordination, and at each step - not assuming what needs to be done. In other words, until we get there, and experience it fully, we might not realize that to lift our leg in the way that is required to advance in a pose, we actually have to adjust the pelvis, or push into the ground in a particular way. Things that wouldn't necessarily be connected or assumed, but definitely are. And each step of the way, we have to check in with that. (Note that when I say we “have” to, what I mean is that if we don’t, we are much less efficient, the end result is often less sustainable or less stable. So it takes more time and focus to do, but will in the end create a stronger, more powerful version of the pose).
Same in life.
Coming back to assumptions. I think this gets messy when we start assuming that what we want, actually looks and feels the way we think it will. Because then at each step, we are simply trying to force it to be like that, rather than what it actually needs to be. And if it’s not feeling that way, we often destroy ourselves or our mission before we even get there, because we were not willing to be present with the process.
For example, I was talking to a couple of friends about relationships this week, and started to see the assumptions we carry with us from relationship to relationship. Now, each individual person’s are going to be very unique and specific, depending on how they were raised, how they’ve been treated, their experience with different types of men/women, etc. But let’s go with a coupe of general assumptions. Often, a woman assumes a man is going to cheat, based on data of previous relationships or seeing men in the world and knowing “that’s what they do”. Opposite side of the same coin, often men assume that telling a woman the truth about his intentions and actions would hurt her, based on data of previous relationships, or seeing women freak out or get really hurt by it. Now of course, both of these things are true sometimes. However, just because a man is a charming man, or likes to talk to people, does not mean that he will cheat, and just because a woman is sensitive or emotional, does not mean she can’t handle a real conversation about intentions, or actions. And these assumptions put us in a vicious cycle, not only in the case where man meets woman, with these nasty assumptions attached, but also in our society, everywhere, all the time. We get used to men cheating, and we get used to women overreacting, so instead of calling each other out, and creating empowered humans, we end up enabling them to continue to be that way. It’s expected of them, it’s already assumed, so might as well live into it.
This becomes a problem because then, how do we actually build a solid relationship? If that is our end goal, how do we get there, when we are too busy assuming what it’s going to feel like? Instead of taking the time to get to know the other person in every situation, we jump into a relationship and hope it can handle the pressures of all the expectations we’ve put on it - while still holding on to our assumptions about it. Yea…that’s not going to work. Just like kicking into a handstand, putting pressure on yourself to stick it, but still assuming it’s not going to require any core work, shoulder stability, or confronting a fear. Haha - not possible!!
My point here is this, look at what you want to create for yourself, whether it be a yoga pose, a relationship, a career goal, etc, and yes visualize it, think about how it might feel, all that good stuff. And then as you start to step towards it, be vigilant in your studies of it. Be honest in looking at yourself and how you are truly showing up for it. Be willing to change your course, to let go of some fears, or to release an assumption of how you’ll feel in it, and watch the magic of that goal come towards you! But hold on to your assumptions and force it, and watch the goal either get accomplished and feel terrible, or simply get further and further away.
Connect to yourself. Check yourself. Fill in the blanks yes. But be willing to re-write those fill-ins as needed.