The problem with making assumptions |

The problem with making assumptions

Catherine Zeeb
Vail CO, Colorado
Columnist Cathy Zeeb

“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” ” Anonymous

I had an incident happen in the Wal-Mart parking lot today. I got out of my car and started to walk up to the entrance. A man yelled something at me. I looked over at him; he was standing there with about five shopping carts. First and foremost I couldn’t understand what he said so I continued to look at him to make sure he was OK. He then yelled louder that I should take in a shopping cart as he pushed one toward me. I stated that I didn’t need one to which he continued to yell at me that I was inconsiderate, didn’t care about helping others and that I should go on with life thinking only of myself, and he ranted on and on as I walked into the store.

I am not telling this story to expose this gentleman, but to thank him for giving me a great topic for this column. This situation was a wonderful example of making assumptions about other people. In this particular incident, this gentleman thought I should take a cart in because he was doing it, without concern for my life situation at that moment.

How many times a day do you make, sometimes internal, assumption(s) of what you think others should be doing, how they should drive, think, etc? We all do it. Here are a couple of things to think about next time you find yourself “making assumptions” about others’ lives: 1) Do you know what is happening in their life; 2) Do you know if they’re in a hurry or if something’s wrong; or 3) Is there more going on with them that you can’t see?

This gentleman, for example, had no idea that I was in a hurry to get something before heading to my office for a session with a client. Now, had he needed help, I would have dropped everything to assist. But he didn’t ask if I wanted to help take carts in nor did he ask if I had the time or if I was even physically capable of doing it. He made an assumption. Many of us just assume that we are right and others are wrong.

The only person you need to know you are right with is yourself and your Higher Power. As soon as you throw your right-ness out into the world, you become judgmental, angry and discriminatory. Until we walk in others’ shoes, we have no right to assume they are even capable of doing/feeling what we think they should be.

This attitude really shows up driving a vehicle. This is one area where people feel stronger than they would face to face. They have 3,000 pounds of courage when they’re behind the wheel. Next time someone drives slow in front of you and you feel you need to ride their bumper or honk at them, remember that you have no idea what’s happening for them in that moment. Feel grace in this moment instead of getting yourself all worked up, which is wasted energy.

If in moments that you feel you need to tell someone how to live, who to be and what to do, stop and realize that you don’t know what’s truly going on. Feel grace in the fact that when someone affects you, you get the opportunity to take a look at yourself. That in that moment with this other person, instead of fighting or pushing back, you can let it go. Walk away and say “thank you” that this person helped you recognize an old behavior that wanted to be exposed and that now you have a new behavior you can be grateful for.

Catherine Zeeb holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Metaphysics. She has a private therapy practice in Edwards and teaches Metaphysics at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. You can visit her website at

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