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Stop Jumping to Negative Assumptions

Chapter 8: Stop Jumping to Negative Assumptions

Tools for Anger Work-Out

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

 

What is jumping to negative assumptions?

When I jump to negative assumptions, I:

  • reach the negative, pessimistic judgment that things are not going to go my way and act accordingly.
  • am reacting to unresolved anger that gives power to people against whom I harbor anger.
  • am acting out of anger, resentment, hatred, and animosity.
  • neglect to find out if things have changed from similar situations in the past.
  • snap to a decision without having all the facts at hand.
  • ignore any positive input I may be receiving.
  • may be reacting to a situation based on a negative belief system.
  • generalize from past experiences that my future will be no different than my past.
  • become pessimistic about my life because things don't look any different to me now than they did before.
  • lock people into a certain behavior pattern, or a script.
  • don't allow for the possibility of change.
  • have a belief about the way things are going to be and I don't allow for any deviation from this belief.
  • close off the possibility for healthy change because I fail to see the reality of changes in life being presented to me.
  • am being unfair to myself and to others.

How can I characterize my jumping to negative assumptions?

 

Ignoring the “yes” messages in my life: Being used to receiving “no,” I make the assumption that things will remain the same. When people give me a “yes,” which is permission to act in a healthy way, I ignore them, assuming the worst, and continue to react as if I had been given a “no.”

 

Having a chip on my shoulder: Because I assume that things will always go wrong people perceive me as sullen, angry, negative, and easily agitated.

 

Giving power to others: By assuming the worst about people, places, things, or events I allow them to upset, bother, or agitate me. This means I give them power over me, negative power.

 

Prejudiced or bigoted behavior: By assuming that a person or group of people will always act the same way, I react to them in a negative way. This puts an emotional and/or physical distance between us, leaving no chance for healing.

 

Acting in a stereotypic way: By making assumptions about how something or someone is always going to be, I act in a predetermined way regarding the particular issue(s). This allows little flexibility and spontaneity in my life.

 

Thinking and/or acting irrationally: Most of the assumptions I reach are based on irrational thinking. The possibility of change is not considered.

 

Fulfillment of the prophecy: By assuming that the worst is going to happen, I subconsciously set things up so that they do happen and in just the negative way I predicted.

 

Being close minded: If I assumed that there is only one way things will always be, then my mind is closed to other possibilities. This results in my becoming closed or resistant to change, even to changes for the better. I simply refuse to believe they are true.

 

Living with blinders on: Reaching the assumption that there is only one way things are going to be, I become unable to look forward. I refuse to see the possibility of things being different. I become narrow in my focus.

 

Being rigid and inflexible: By assuming that things can't change, my behavior gets stuck on one track. I'm on a one way street to nowhere, in a deep rut. I find it impossible to be spontaneous or flexible.

 

Being insensitive and uncaring: By assuming that I will be treated negatively by everyone with whom I come in contact, I throw emotional barriers up so high that no one can see my feelings. This results in my appearing cold and aloof.

 

Self-sabotaging behavior. Assuming that only the worst will happen to me, I do or say things that hamper my growth or success. Failure and loss are the result.

What consequences come from my jumping to negative assumptions?

By jumping to negative assumptions, I:

  • find that people avoid me and don't invite me into relationships with them.
  • see that people are hesitant to tell me things for fear that I will react negatively to them.
  • miss the healthy changes others are making in their lives.
  • close myself off from “healing” relationships with people against whom I've held anger and resentment.
  • lead myself into fights, arguments, or disagreements with little provocation.
  • blow my stack before I clearly understand all the facts.
  • overreact; my emotional response is too intense for the circumstances.
  • reject people before they reject me, then feel sad and hurt when they don't respond the way I'd like them to.
  • act the way I learned in my family of origin and this results in negative consequences.
  • find it impossible to sustain healthy, satisfying relationships with people.
  • tend to be overly defensive and come across as either paranoid or too intense.
  • become increasingly dissatisfied with my life and pessimistic about the future.
  • easily fly off the handle when my hot buttons are pushed.
  • get embittered about how badly life has treated me.
  • feel it is useless to expect things to change.
  • give myself only negative self-scripts.
  • feel I don't deserve the good things in life.
  • accept that I am incompetent, incapable of controlling my choices for personal growth toward a healthy and satisfying life.

 

What irrational thinking leads me to these negative assumptions?

  • All people are alike.
  • Things will never change.
  • No one wants me to succeed.
  • There are only two kinds of people in life: losers and winners / the haves and the have nots.
  • I was meant to be a loser and a have not.
  • There is no sense in my trying to change since the others in my life will never change.
  • I know how she is and how she will always react, so why expect anything else from her?
  • This is the way it is supposed to happen to me.
  • There is only one way to think or feel; one should not deviate from it.
  • I've been hurt and hurt badly; nothing good will ever happen to me.
  • People are out to protect themselves, acting only for their own good; why expect them to do something nice for me; be different with me?
  • No matter what I do, my life never changes for the good.
  • Wanting things to change is a waste of time.
  • I don't control the way things happen to me.
  • It's not what I say or do that counts, it is what happens to me in the end that matters.
  • Everyone is out to get me; I have to accept this if I am ever going to be happy.
  • Change is only in your mind; it is never present in reality.
  • My life script is cast in stone; nothing I do will change it.
  • No one will ever hurt me again; I will be vigilant at all times for even a hint of negativity toward me.
  • Trust no one. If I assume the worst I'll never be disappointed.
  • I don't count on anything happening positively, so when it doesn't I'm prepared.
  • I am an unlovable, unlikable, unattractive person; no one could ever be interested in me.
  • If I protect myself from the attacks of others before they begin, I'll be ready and can lessen the damages.
  • I never let my guard down so I won't get attacked at my weakest point.
  • It's better to protect myself now before I get hurt than to react to the hurt later.
  • No matter what I do, it is always the same. I get the short end of the stick.

Where did I learn to jump to negative assumptions?

I became skilled at jumping to negative assumptions:

  • in a family where honest communication rarely existed.
  • because I was unable to express or even identify my feelings as a child.
  • in my relationships when I experienced hurt, pain, rejection, and a lack of approval.
  • in my early life by adopting a nonassertive mode.
  • by never asking people to clarify their meaning or feelings in our communication.
  • by allowing myself to be intimidated by others.
  • when I saw that every time I predicted that a bad thing would happen to me, it did.
  • when I saw my parents and siblings doing it. It became a way of life for me.
  • when my creative problem solving techniques kept not working with authority figures.
  • as I learned that I could be more accepted by accommodating and following the crowd than by thinking for myself.

 

How can I stop jumping to negative assumptions?

To stop this negative cycle, I need to:

  • develop optimism about the future.
  • open myself up to recognizing yes messages in my life.
  • reduce my unresolved anger and get the chip off my shoulder.
  • take back the power over my own emotions and stop allowing others to intimidate me.
  • become open minded toward people and groups of people.
  • stop expecting people to act in stereotypic ways.
  • stop acting in stereotypic ways toward others.
  • develop rational thinking about change.
  • accept the possibility of positive change in life.
  • stop predicting a negative outcome for each of my endeavors.
  • visualize successful, positive results of my efforts.
  • open my mind to truth and reality.
  • get rid of my negative belief system.
  • stop living life with blinders on.
  • experience the whole of my life, including both good and not so good.
  • become more spontaneous and carefree.
  • allow myself to become vulnerable in relationships.
  • take the risk to trust others.
  • experience a relationship for what it is rather than what I assume it to be.
  • identify all actions on my part which sabotage my efforts at personal growth, health, and success.
  • think before I speak.
  • recognize when I am working from negative assumptions rather than reality.
  • to identify the paradoxes in life.
  • recognize that what appears to be negative could be an opportunity for personal growth.
  • learn to deal with the riddles of life.
  • stop misleading and misdirecting myself.
  • give those in my support network permission to stop me when I slip into old behavior patterns.

Steps to stop my jumping to negative assumptions

 

Step 1: In order to stop jumping to negative assumptions, I need to recognize how I do it. By answering the following three riddles in my journal I can learn how I jump to negative assumptions.

 

1. Coin Riddle

I have two coins that total thirty cents. One of the coins is not a nickel. What two coins do I have?

  • My answer is:
  • My reason for this answer is:
  • Check the answer at the end of this chapter. Identify the assumption that resulted in my wrong answer. If I was right, great!

 

2. Crash Riddle

A plane crashed on the border between Mexico and the United States. If the luggage landed in one country and the wreckage in another, in which country would you bury the survivors?

  • My answer is:
  • My reason for this answer is:
  • Check the answer at the end of this chapter. Identify the assumption that resulted in my wrong answer. If I was right, great!

 

3. Accident Riddle

Mr. Smith and his son, Tony, were driving home from work. They got into a car accident. Mr. Smith died immediately. Tony was rushed to a hospital unconscious and he was taken to surgery. When the surgeon saw Tony, the doctor said, I cannot operate on this man because he is my son. Who was the doctor?

  • My answer is:
  • My reason for this answer is:
  • Check the answer at the end of this chapter. Identify the assumption that resulted in my wrong answer. If I was right, great.

 

Even if I got all three riddles correct, I need to answer the following questions in my journal:

  • What is a riddle?
  • How are paradoxes, stereotypes, and assumptions involved in riddles?
  • How well do I solve riddles?
  • How well do I solve the riddles in my life?
  • How do assumptions interfere in my relationships?
  • What are the sources of my negative assumptions?
  • What unresolved anger lies at the base of these negative assumptions?
  • What irrational thinking leads to my negative assumptions?
  • What new thinking should I develop?
  • What people, places, things, or events do I give power over me? What happens to me when these things trip my hot buttons? Physically? Emotionally?

Step 2:  Once I identify those things to which I give power over me, I need to go to this next exercise:


Get Down Off the Chair!
Have separate members in a meeting of my support group represent each person, place, thing, or event for which I have unresolved anger, hatred, or resentment. Have each support person stand on a chair. Place all of the powerful items on the chairs in a circle, surrounding me, to represent the power they hold over me. I will do one anger work-out at a time with each power item. I will take the power away and in so doing, lose intimidation, anger, hatred, or resentment. I will be able to face these items in the future without jumping to negative assumptions. This will enable me to see the positives or yes messages in my life.

 

Now answer these questions in my journal:

  • Can I identify each person, place, thing, or event to which I have given power? Do they come to mind easily?
  • How does unresolved anger, hatred, or resentment give power to these items?
  • What does power over me mean in this case?
  • How do I act, behave, or talk when something has power over me?
  • What negative assumptions are reached when I give power to a person, place, thing, or event?
  • How useful was it to role play taking the power away?
  • How many other people, places, things, or events, do I need to take off the chairs in my life?
  • How will this reduce my chance of jumping to negative assumptions?

 

Step 3:  Once I've identified what I want off the chairs, I need to identify those things about which I usually jump to negative assumptions. I will answer the following questions in my journal:

  • When I jump to negative assumptions about people, I usually assume:
  • When I jump to negative assumptions about places, I usually assume:
  • When I jump to negative assumptions about things, I usually assume:
  • When I jump to negative assumptions about events, I usually assume:
  • My negative assumptions have the following themes or characteristics:
  • What do these negative assumptions tell me about my belief in myself?
  • What new beliefs about myself should I develop?

 

Step 4:  Once I identify the negative assumptions I need to outline what I can do to stop this behavior. I will answer the following questions in my journal:

  • What is the status of my sense of self-deserving and self-love?
  • How can I grow in self-love, self-worth, and self-esteem, and believe that I deserve good things in life?
  • What new behavior should I develop to stop my jumping to negative assumptions?
  • In reviewing this chapter, what action could I take to stop jumping to negative assumptions?

 

Step 5:  If I am still jumping to negative assumptions, I will go back to Step 1 and begin over again.

 

 

Answer Key to Step 1 Riddles:
1. Coin Riddle: One coin is a quarter and the other is a nickel.
2. Crash Riddle: You don't bury survivors.

3. Accident Riddle: The doctor is Tony's mother.