February 2010 – Closely related to limiting beliefs, which we discussed a couple of months ago, is the second of the “Big 4” energy blocks which prevent us from making conscious choices and reaching our potential: Assumptions.

An assumption is a belief that is based on the premise that because something happened in the past, it is automatically going to happen again in the future.

Making choices based on our assumptions, is tantamount to letting the past control the future. That prevents us from achieving our goals and living optimally. Consider, how much effort are we likely to put into an endeavor if we already “know” (based on our past experience) that it won’t work? The result of holding on to our assumptions is that we hold ourselves back from being fully engaged in life and thereby missing out on many opportunities.

Imagine this scenario: A young associate in the banking practice group is instructed by the firm’s senior partner to begin work on a real estate file. The associate feels frustrated by her lack of knowledge in this new practice area and with the lack of confidence she exhibits with each new real estate transaction. She makes mental comparisons with the ease with which she handled her banking files and feels more bogged down with the real estate transactions. She assumes, based on her initial experiences, that she’ll never succeed in this new practice group. If she continues making the assumption that she is not good at this type of work, then it’s unlikely that she’ll devote all her energies to the new field. Moreover, the catabolic, negative, energy she brings with her to the work will unlikely yield positive results. And that will hold her back from achieving peak performance as an attorney. Without her even realizing it, she will have created more proof that her assumption was correct. A self fulfilling prophecy if you will.

We make assumptions all the time. More often than not we work under the assumption’s premise without questioning its validity. Before questioning and overcoming assumptions, we need to recognize them. What assumptions can you identify in your life? To help understand the widespread nature of assumptions, here are a few typical examples:

  • If I don’t do it myself, it won’t be done right.
  • I never remember names.
  • I’m no good at interviewing.
  • No one listens to what I’m saying.
  • I always choose the lane with the traffic jam.

See how assumptions are similar to limiting beliefs? The main difference between the two is that limiting beliefs are based on what others have said whereas assumptions are primarily based on personal experience. Of course being based on personal experience, assumptions are internalized and emotional, and are therefore somewhat difficult to let go of. Delving deep to remove the emotion of the past experience may be necessary before moving forward.

The main question to ask when challenging an assumption is simply “Just because that happened in the past, must it happen again?”

This month, when you just “know” that something won’t work based on your past experience, recognize your assumption for what it is, question it and realize the opportunities you’ll miss by remaining bound to the assumption. Then, consciously choose to let it go, take positive action and move towards full engagement in your life.

More on the positive effects of being fully engaged in life in future issues.

Consider the possibilities.

Adam J. Krim                                                                                          


About Adam J. Krim

Adam works as a Certified Professional Coach, delivering soft skills training seminars on a variety of topics, including Time Management, Harnessing Stress, Decision Making, Problem Solving and more.
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