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Assumptions Feed Cynicism
Last Week's Tools
This week, I’ve been consistently showering myself with gold stars and turning to my Internal Best Friend for advice. They are invariable more generous and kinder that I act towards myself when I’m on autopilot. I’ve also been incorporating my insights, and I hope you have, too.
You can think of your IBF as an inner voice of kindness and compassion. Imagine them as the best friend of your wildest dreams. Put wonderful words into their mouth. If this doesn’t come easy, you could think of talking with your IBF as a kind of role-playing. You write the script. So make it the sweetest, kindest, most generous and helpful words you can conjure.
Here are the insights my practice yielded since last week:
1. Disrupt regrets!
I already knew that I have too many regrets. I saw in the last week how pointless they are because their cause by hindsight. Of course, I would know better after the fact. That’s why they’re called hindsight. I want to use them to learn from, not to anxiously wallow in regrets. They undermine me and make me weak.
2. Disrupt cynicism!
True story: On my way home, a car got stranded in the turn lane and stopped. As I passed by, I thought, ‘That’s not going to work! Nobody’s going to stop. You have to weave your way into traffic.’ I looked in the rearview mirror and, you guessed it, the very next car behind me slowed down, flashed their lights and let the car in. That slapped me in the face real good. A mundane moment that really highlighted my cynicism. Do you do that? Make cynical assumptions? Check it out this week.
What I really got this week is what it is that makes cynicism possible: Assumptions.
I mean, don’t we constantly assume, often the worst?
Now, am I conscious of my assumptions? Mostly, no. From where I stand, it just looks like calling it like it is. Well, I think there’s the rub. An assumption can be wrong like it was with that driver who waited for someone to let them in. Evolutionarily, making assumptions of what is safe and what isn’t is a good survival tactic. But beyond that, assumptions about people’s motives and intentions come with great liability.
For two reasons: 1) We overlay reality with our speculations which keeps us from actually being present in the moment and seeing what’s really there. And 2) because we are inherently biased, our speculations are distorted by those biases. Very quickly, rather than responding to the people we encounter in a fresh and unique way, as called for by actual reality, we respond in ways that are patterned by feedback loops.
For a while, on my gender journey, I got tired of doing so much emotional labor and stopped smiling. Life felt a lot cloudier because no one was smiling at me, either. Because I looked unfriendly or because they didn’t want to make the effort? I don’t know. But I do know, unless we encounter the moment with a fresh response, borne from being consciously present, there is no chance of stepping out of a feedback loop.
At the beginning of the paragraph, I answered the question if I am conscious of being assessing with "no." And that is the point of entry for the powerful shift that occurred this week. Last week’s insight was to worry less. To worry less, I had to assume less. When I assumed less, I had less cause to be cynical.
Friends, I can’t say what a difference that made. I’m lighter, less anxious, less frustrated and feel stronger. In other words, closer to being badass than I did last week.
If this resonates with you, I invite you to notice when you make assumptions.
3. Disrupt assumptions
Anytime you’re upset, check out if you’re making an assumption. Then, instead of staying on the emotional merry-go-round, as yourself a few powerful questions that will help you get present:
What is happening right now?
What are the sounds?
What is being said (if anything)?'
How do I feel in my body?
What do I need right now?
How do I want to act or respond?
What would help me get in touch with my power?
Next, act in accordance with what comes to you as a result of these questions. Trust yourself. If you’re not sure, ask ‘How can my IBF help me with that right now?’ And remember to shower yourself with gold stars.
MOST IMPORTANT!!! Be ever so gentle with yourself. Be kind with yourself. Treat yourself with the loving care you would give to a puppy, a kitten, a bunny, or a newborn baby. You’re becoming a newborn—a newborn badass ;-D.
As to “badass:” Do you like the term? Do you want something a little different? If so, change the term! To winner. Or savior, activist, healer, sweetheart. Maybe powerhouse. Whatever would describe the you who would love the life you want to live!
This week’s work in bullets
Hey, remember when I mentioned last week that I had something to share? Here it is: To make the Badass Challenge more concrete for myself, I ordered a, honest-to-God trophy. The one you see in the picture at the top. It's in Steven's work space, up on a very high shelf waiting for me. I can see it up there, but I can't touch it. Because of that, I know it's not yet mine. My goal this year is to earn it so that it can move from Steven's space to an honored place in my work space. We'll take pictures together that day!
That's it for this week. Thank you so much for reading. Have a wonderful week. I love you. And remember, you are whole and wise, and if so inclined, divine. Perfect as you are, right now, and as you are not, right now.
Henry India Holden
I write about the divineness of life in its many forms. Writer, artist, spiritual director, life coach, tarotist. Nonbinary.