Assumptions and Judgments: Are They Ruining Your Relationships? ll By Dorothy Wallis

Assumptions and Judgments: Are They Ruining Your Relationships?
By Dorothy Wallis

   We all do it, make assumptions about the intentions of others.  Words or a behavior of someone disturbs your sense of self or connection and you get triggered from the wounded place inside of you.  Suddenly your thoughts go to the worst scenario about them or your relationship with them.  Your mind goes off into a story about the meaning of their words, actions or inaction and it gets magnified.  These unconscious habits create misunderstandings, conflict, fights and assumptions about the intentions of the other person or their version of the truth.  Whenever you claim to know what was “really” going on inside of another, you are sure to induce a collision of realities.  The battle becomes “whose version is right?”  In all probability neither of you is 100% correct.  

Truth or Story?

   Assumptions are suppositions or theories that are not based upon certain truth.  They are conclusions based upon prior experience, preconceived notions, biases and even prejudice.  When you understand that an assumption is an assertion of truth rather than a fact then an assumption is an important element for discovering the truth.  Whereas judgment is, “the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.” It is also “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.”  Good judgment employs critical thinking, which involves evaluating facts and observable phenomena leading to reasonable conclusions.  Are your assumptions coming from first hand knowledge or from an outside source, second hand gossip or something conjured up in your imagination?  Assumptions and judgments become a liability when you “Jump” to a conclusion and leave out the sensible part or have not checked out the facts.  These evaluations can form out of a habitual way of seeing someone instead of being present to the reality of the person in front of you.

“Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others.” 

~ Wayne Dyer

Everyday Assumptions

   You are at work and you walk past your office mate and she is talking in hushed tones to another coworker.  When they see you, they suddenly stop their conversation and look away.  What races through your mind?  Are they talking about you?  You might think they are mad at you, or ignoring you, or they don’t like you, or don’t want to include you, or are dissing you in some other way.  If your partner comes home and doesn’t bother to say anything to you and goes straight to the bedroom or office, what do you think is happening?  Do you think the behavior is about you?  If your wife is working overtime night after night or your husband is continually leaving on another business trip, you may create the story that they don’t care about you.  Perhaps your partner lies on the couch every night and doesn’t talk or want to do anything.  Do you fear he or she is no longer interested in being with you?  Do you judge them as being lazy or irresponsible?  When people are grumpy, sad, distant, angry or rude or haven’t connected with you in a long time, do you start to wonder about the stability of your relationship with them?

   Notice your first thoughts.  Do you believe that whatever is going on with them has to do with you, or is your first thought that this person is experiencing something that is about them?  What is the difference in your response to each?

   Your inner assumptions will change depending upon the meaning you give the behavior of the other person.  This will also affect the way you interact.  You may be more inclined to approach a friend or partner with curiosity, caring and wonder when you believe something is going on with them that has nothing to do with you.

“It is Unreasonable to Believe that You will Unconditionally Receive Everything You Need In Relationship Including Love”  ~ Dorothy Wallis

Assumptions based Upon Expectations

   We go into relationship with friends and loved ones with a bucket load of expectations.  Most of these come from our image of what constitutes our perception of relationship and what we desire from it.  The biggest assumption is expecting our needs to be met with the presumption that others will magically know how to love and care for us.  This pressure of expectation is especially apparent in intimate partner relationships.  Your partner comes from a different set of needs and perceptions about relationship and how to love.  It is up to you to let your partner know what makes you happy, your preferences, and how to love you.

   No one goes through life unscathed.  You both have a history of hurt that enters making it unreasonable to believe that you will unconditionally receive everything you need.  Difficulties will arise.  You learn how to love yourself and others through the ups and downs and disappointments in relationship.  It is the best way to discover what you need and what helps you grow.  Heartful communication and negotiation opens a door to understand your own needs and desires and your loved one’s.

Assumptions based Upon Past Experience

   If there has been tension or an ongoing issue in your relationship that is unresolved your perception of the other person will include judgments from your recent experience.  Perhaps your friend or partner has lied to you or betrayed you in the past.  It is easy to leap into hasty judgment and suspicion when incongruities in their words or behavior occur.  It can throw you into a deeply wounded place.  You may bypass being curious and checking out what is going on with them in the present moment.  Their past actions and behaviors are certainly pertinent and not to be ignored.  Yet, negative assumptions and conclusions can build into an explosive dynamic when you respond from a wounded place instead of reasoned awareness.

“Sometimes our childhood experiences are emotionally intense, which can create strong mental models.  These experiences and our assumptions about them are then reinforced in our memory and can continue to drive our behavior as adults.”  ~ Elizabeth Thornton

Illusion and the Wounded Self

   Everyone has core wounds from growing up in the world.  These surface most often in intimate relationships.  Partners are especially designed to irritate your wounds and provoke a reaction.  Negative encounters will do it.  But even changes of mood or behavior and words or phrases said in an “off hand way” by another that remind you of a past painful experience may trigger your wounds of rejection, separation, withdrawal or abandonment.  These can bring up feelings of not being accepted, capable, worthy, or the belief that something is terribly wrong with you or any feeling that disconnects you from your true self.  Fear is at the core and creates a cascading pattern of reaction.  Your reaction can range from withdrawal and distance to moving toward or against the other to protect yourself from touching the tender and vulnerable places that hurt.  The wound activates the survival mode, which contains the enormity of the past and puts it in the here and now.  Your senses have entered a virtual reality of past pain and hurt, which blinds you to the present.  As Eckhart Tolle says, you have identified with your pain body.

   When the pain body arises you are immersed in the illusion of the past and assumptions are made from past awareness without the truth of the present.  Just because you are experiencing an emotion does not make it true now.  You have disengaged from actual reality and from the person in front of you.  This is a problem because it also re-creates the pain inside of you.  As you might imagine, you will do everything possible to stop the pain.  Your mind attempts to understand the situation in order to alleviate the pain and immediately retrieves past memories and information without the context of the present.  Assumptions and judgments are made and you believe it as truth without further investigation.  This actually causes you more pain instead of relieving it.

   Have you ever been in this cycle?  Did you notice how the pain increases and anger or rejection is inflamed?  Did you ever attack someone with accusations, resentment, blame and anger or reject them and withdraw while in the trance of the pain body?

“The relationship that tests/frustrates/irritates you the most actually is one of your greatest blessings.  Why? Because it reveals to you the very beliefs/fears and false assumptions that most limit you.”
~ Robin S. Sharma

Moving Out of the Trance Pattern

   Pulling yourself back begins with being aware of your patterns of reactivity.  You have to realize that you have identified with the pain body.  Bring your attention inward and notice what is happening physically inside of your body.  You might feel an upward rush of energy in your body or a contraction of your energy.  You may experience a “shame attack” where your self-esteem shrinks or you have a feeling of insecurity.  Notice the rhythm and speed of your heartbeat.  Your bodily temperature may become hot or cold.  Relax into a pause or a temporary silence.  Let the racing of your mind calm.  The awareness itself brings your consciousness back into the present moment.

   The old reactivity patterns are strategic for survival but you don’t want to be living in survival mode.  It creates premature judgment and often faulty assumptions.  The greatest goal of your survival instinct is to be safely connected.  The task in relationship is to be open and face whatever is presented.  Receptivity allows what is actually occurring between you and another person.  Anytime internal agitation arises the survival strategies come forward.  Be aware, let the reactive pattern go, assess what is true in the moment and base your response on what you discover.  Recognize that this moment is happening now and not in the past or future.

“To Increase our Objectivity, We must Learn to Switch Off the Mini-movies. Objectivity Requires us to be Mindful, Present in the Moment, and Experiencing what is Happening Without Judgment.”
~ Elizabeth Thornton

Presence with Discernment

   Presence brings you face to face with reality.  Here is another human being.  They too have experienced pain and if they are agitated then their wounds have surfaced.  You begin to see the suffering they are experiencing.  You are focused in reality as it is happening and not in illusion.  In this state of receptive consciousness, you no longer are compelled to retaliate.  From a compassionate place, you ask about the experience of the other person.  You can hold the intrinsic usefulness of assumptions without letting them override your judgment.  You are open to hearing their thoughts, feelings, intentions and perspective.  You are able to distinguish between the beliefs they have about you that are true from those that are not.  Instead of the need to defend yourself, you can be honest about your behaviors and intentions while not taking their perspective personally.  Memories of the past will remain but the contrary emotions do not engage.  Often this is enough to resolve whatever has occurred between you.

   Discernment allows you to grasp what was once obscure.  Following the path of presence allows you to move out of your pain body giving you an intimate sense and love of your true self.  You meet the people in your life with acceptance and tolerance leading to true understanding and compassion.  Your relationships thrive because you are not caught in illusion and an old story.  You release your judgments about others and experience them in the fresh context of Now.

Checklist of Good Practices

• Tether Your First Impressions.  Don’t Assume the Worst.

• Don’t Be Shy.  Instead of Hurling Accusations, Check out Your Assumptions.

• Where Does it Hurt?  Look at What is Really Bothering You.

• Be Honest about Your Reality.

• Curb Your Expectations of Others.

• People Can’t Read Your Mind; Tell Them What is Really Important to You.

• Listen….and Listen…and Listen without Preconceptions.

• Let Go.  You Don’t Need to Take it Personally.  Remember, Everyone has Their Opinion.

• Let Go Again and Again of Needing to Be Right.

• Give Yourself a Round of Appreciation for Your Awareness and Presence

For Further Guidance and Reflection:
Coming to Center: What to Do When You Are Triggered
​Relational Awareness: Conscious Communication Matters


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is a Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing for individuals and couples based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. and

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth