I was playing a board game with some friends the other day. The game was Risk. I instinctively rolled my eyes when they decided on it. Even though I have never played this game, I knew enough to know it was strategy-based. I don’t like strategy games.
For many years I have held the opinion that strategy games are complicated and require exhaustive brain power to play. I gravitate more towards trivia, word games or silly match-three type games. This is my comfort zone.
However, after being told the rules, and working through being a novice, I started to really enjoy the process of deciding where to beef up my army and who and when to attack. I enjoyed it so much that I was sad when the game ended!
Still shocked at how much fun I had, I started to wonder why I had decided that I didn’t like strategy games. Where did that come from?
We make assumptions about ourselves, unconsciously and not so unconsciously, all the time. How many times have you said about yourself that you aren’t smart enough, strong enough or you don’t enjoy something? Now stop and analyze if all those statements are actually true and can be proven.
In my own life, there have been numerous times that I have dispelled instinctive assumptions.
I used to think that I would never be able to eat a very restrictive diet and not be sad all the time. Right? I can’t live without carbs and cheese! Two weeks ago I started the Metabolic Renewal program. The food portion of the program is mostly proteins and veggies. There is very little dairy, carbs and sugar. I was certain I wouldn’t be able to do it, but desperation to get the scales moving in a downward direction made me take the plunge. What I have found is I feel full and content all day. I’m not suffering cravings at all. In fact my biggest problem at this point is just finding new vegetables to like to give myself more variety. And in doing so, probably dispelling other assumptions I have made.
I used to think of myself as not being a leader. I never wanted to be in charge of something. More comfortable playing a supportive role. Even though that last part is true, after stepping up (or being conned) into leading various projects and groups, I found I also enjoy the role of leading. It’s definitely more challenging, but I get better the more often I step up to challenge.
I used to think the only way to be truly happy is to find the right guy to share your life. Through experiencing painful relationships and questioning everything that I absorbed from parents, books, movies and other influences, that is no longer my view. I feel comfortable in my acceptance of the fact that doesn’t for me. Even though I would love to find someone to connect with on that level, even if it never happens, I can still have a very happy life. My happiness is not connected to someone else making me happy. I can do that myself.
So how does one stop making these sometimes unconscious assumptions about themselves? There are several things you can do.
You have start with recognizing when you are making one. If you feel negatively towards something start questioning why.
- Is it fear of not being smart or strong or good enough?
- Do I have any proof that what I’ve told myself is even true?
- Is this really how I feel about something or am I just repeating things I’ve been taught? What is my opinion?
Reframe Your Thinking
If you decide that yes, this is something I am making an assumption about. Then start substituting the negative with positive.
- If it’s fear or a lack of confidence, positive affirmations can help. Or instead of telling yourself you are scared, tell yourself that you are excited. It feels completely different.
- Write down the assumption and then write down any proof it is a true statement. If you are struggling to come up with sound reasons, you need to put that assumption to the test and start telling yourself you are the opposite.
Put it to the Test
Or just jump in and give it a try. Like my playing Risk, I just needed to actually play a strategy game to blow that assumption out of the water. Or take on a role of something that scares you. Just make sure you are talking positively to yourself while you are going through it and don’t give up.
Granted sometimes, your assumption turns out to prove true. For instance, I’ve never considered myself someone that runs. I have tried running as exercise many times, and I can’t use enough curse words to express how much I loathe it. There are plenty of other exercises I do enjoy. It shouldn’t be torture.
In my experience, it’s pretty rare an assumption proves to be true. Most of the time, it’s an assumption I accepted as the truth.
Question everything, including yourself!