My friend Katie* told me a story recently about a student who had put their wet washing up on the line before they went out. When she returned, her washing had been taken down and someone else’s was up. She was furious and she said to Katie ‘This boy has taken my washing down just so he could put his up!’
Katie decided to get them both together and find out what had happened.
The boy, when he arrived, said ‘When she was out, it started raining so I ran out and brought her washing in. That’s not my washing on the line.’
Oh how the girl had got it so wrong!
She’d jumped straight to the conclusion that he’d sneakily removed her washing just so he could put up his own.
Do you jump to conclusions? I do, way too much, and that story has really spoken to me.
If we see someone look at us in an odd way we can be totally convinced that they have an issue with us. Or sometimes reading a short text or email we’ve received can really cause us to worry that it’s blunt because the person has a problem with us for some reason.
Recently I reacted like that in front of my friend Amy, and ended up saying about someone else ‘Well she thinks I’m too dramatic and annoying.’ To which Amy wisely replied ‘Meg, but you don’t know that.’
Amy hit the nail on the head. She’s completely right and reminded me, again, that I shouldn’t go about guessing what people are thinking, and jumping to conclusions about them as a result.
Working on why we do this conclusion-jumping thing is probably the key, and I’m beginning to realise that for me it usually stems from my own insecurity. A blunt text or odd look triggers my brain to spin with insecure thoughts that lead to that jump and it’s worse when I’m having a bad day.
When our brains are spinning and jumping to conclusions, we do have options:
Ask the person or ask yourself, or put another way, be clear about the actual facts and don’t jump straight into negative feelings about yourself or other people.
Ask the person ‘Did you take my washing down?’ – if Katie’s student friend had simply asked the boy about the washing on the line she would have avoided all those negative emotions. Remember though – ask, don’t accuse.
Ask yourself – even if you don’t ask the person if their email is blunt because they’re unhappy with you, you can choose not to just think the worst about the situation or person.
Learn to be a bit clear headed about yourself. Ask yourself ‘Why am I jumping to the worst conclusion about me or the other person?’ ‘What has triggered me to spin like this?’ ‘Am I having a bad day because I’m tired or stressed?’ Remember, these worries often do stem out of our insecurities.
Also it’s always good to ask about what you know about the other person in this situation – would they really be like that with you?
Learn to stop in the spin and jump to great conclusions.