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Post No.: 0846suppositions


Fluffystealthkitten says:


We routinely make suppositions about other people’s motives and thoughts – but we shouldn’t suppose our suppositions are correct, or that our suppositions matter even if they are accurate. Unless we sense a genuine imminent threat, we should assume the best intentions from others. If we assume the worst in the ambiguous actions of others then we might deliberately give innocent people the cold shoulder, we might ‘retaliate’ over nothing, thus we could end up causing a relationship to deteriorate.


You’re invited to look back upon all the suppositions of other people’s motives and feelings that were unproven, or even proven wrong, or where you worried or hypothesised over nothing, or you ultimately got over it and it didn’t actually matter in the end – like when you ruminated over what others were possibly thinking of you when they weren’t at all, or when you felt distraught that you had upset someone when you shouldn’t have fretted because they were okay.


Errors in how we construct stories of events that lead to our suppositions can come from confirmation bias, from thinking we’re superb mind-readers (e.g. that a friend blanked us intentionally or a child wantonly thought, “I’m going to annoy mummy/daddy”), and from catastrophising. The nub is that we could’ve selected other things to focus our attention on, held different suppositions to confirm, and ultimately generated different mental narratives or commentaries of what’s going on inside another person’s mind or in the world. (It’s like all movies only present one possible presentation of an event, as selected by the screenwriters, storyboard artists, directors and editors.) They’re typically over-simple, one-sided, exaggerated narratives with clear and one-dimensional ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters whom have black-or-white motives. ‘Obvious’ futures are projected, like in fairy tales with moral lessons, instead of messy reality. Other individuals are halfwits but seldom us too.


Understand that you might only express cutting comments when you’ve reached your limit – but others can find it an automatic reflex to say such words, like calling people dumbasses or idiots, and then they quickly forget about it. Some individuals just swear every ****ing other ****ing word! (Like moi sometimes :3.) So just because someone says what you consider are hurtful phrases, it doesn’t necessarily mean they meant it with the same venom as when you say those precise words to others.


We find it easy to notice and point out how arrogant, dreary, craven, callow, etc. even a friend can be – yet we’re still friends with them because of their better qualities. We sometimes criticise our friends but it doesn’t mean we hate them. It’s the same in reverse – just because someone may see a negative trait in us, it doesn’t necessarily mean they hate us. We don’t have to get defensive. We’re all complex.


Someone tells you a white lie in order to spare your feelings, then you find out about it afterwards. They should be able to understand your grievance about not being simply told the truth – but you should be able to understand their motivations for lying too.


When someone involuntarily yawns in our company, it means they’re tired rather than find us boring. We know that we yawn when trying to keep ourselves awake despite our sleepiness – even when we’re trying to do something we really enjoy like playing a videogame or completing a box set late into the evening. We don’t yawn when we’re simply letting ourselves fall sleep. We should therefore find it a compliment for others to yawn rather than allow themselves to fall asleep in our company despite feeling so tired. The true insult would be for them to not fight that feeling of nodding off! And they’re tired, perhaps due to sleep deprivation – hence we don’t have to take it personally.


Someone’s shyness could be misinterpreted as aloofness or disinterestedness. Someone might innocently scratch their eyebrow with their middle finger? Someone gossiping behind your back might be referring to the weird tits or wonky peonies… in your garden?(!) So you don’t have to be that sensitive! Meow.


We can care too much about what others might think of us, which can become a source of social anxiety. We can presume others will think/are thinking badly of us when they really won’t/aren’t. I suppose it’s better to care too much than too little though, because those who care too little are often a pain to others. But this suggests that if you do have social anxieties, you’re probably not a pain to others – only yourself.


Even if they mean it, you don’t have to be too concerned about what others think because you are in charge of how you feel and how you react. Post No.: 0699 expounded how we can be less reactive.


You should neither be upset about criticism nor let flattery go to your head. True confidence is calm and lacks expressions of ego. When you know you possess something good, you don’t have to act like you do i.e. you won’t be constantly consciously wishing to prove it. It’ll show when it needs to; if it ever needs to. It’s less stressful too if we’re not obsessed with trying to impress others – which seldom works through boasting or posturing anyway. Confident people on the inside exude quiet charm. They’re not brash or boastful. This is where, if sheer self-belief leads to self-aggrandisement, it doesn’t lead to happiness but loneliness and misery – we set ourselves up to be upset by minor slights if we hold beliefs in our own importance that are too lofty. So get your head out of your own ****hole if you want to feel happier!


You’ll also become less concerned about how others think of you when you realise how seldom they do! We’re each our own central protagonists of our own universe and dramas – where others are just supporting cast. So others see us as peripheral parts in their lives in return. They only know us through simplified caricatures of our true complex natures, and we only enter their minds on those brief occasions they happen to be thinking about us amongst what’s happening in their own lives. Due to this ‘spotlight effect’ and overestimating how much others notice and care about our lives – that huge deal you’re making about keeping some secret won’t likely be that huge if you let the cat out of the bag too; unless it affects their life.


Often, in many contexts – not reading beyond what actually happened really helps. Even if you’re told, for instance, that someone dislikes you – have you actually been physically injured by them? Or it was a near-miss traffic incident i.e. nothing ultimately happened, so forget about it. Even if a little metal did get dented, it was okay in the end. Nothing irreversible happened.


Our impulsive actions based on our suppositions – even if they prove to be correct suppositions – might cause harm to others (e.g. we might say something that hurts someone we love, which we’ll wish we could take back). Since most expressions of anger are impulsive reactions fed by our ‘system one’ – to diffuse it, you could try counting slowly to ten.


Likewise, sleep on decisions – give your critical-thinking ‘system two’ some time to think. (Anger isn’t always impulsive though, like in the case when people say, “The more I thought about how I was treated, the more incensed I felt.”) Looking in the mirror might make you realise how ridiculous you look when you’re angy too.


We can also stop the contagion of rage or pain by understanding that hurtful words speak about the disseminator of those words. It speaks about their histories, perhaps childhoods, present circumstances and inability to keep cool. When someone is upset, it means they’re in pain (even if it’s only because they’re hungry, busy or exhausted), so instead of us getting upset for them displacing their feelings of pain onto us – we can show compassion, or ignore what they say until it blows over and they’re feeling a little better.


Tell people they’re wrong and they’ll normally close up rather than open up and listen. Rather than accusatory language, which provokes defensiveness – say, “I feel x when you do y.” This is better than, “You make me x” or, “You’re so z.” Venting, especially at people, only makes things worse. Whereas crying can be cathartic, anger just makes itself more intense. Do express your feelings with your partner or whoever instead of harbouring them until they ferment, but do so sensitively.


Understand that plenty of foibles or shortcomings are common to all humans for being human. Can, or should, we blame an individual for failings that are shared by everyone? Who are we to judge others in such high-and-mighty tones?


Therefore another way of reducing your umbrage is by saying to yourself ‘I myself have been guilty of this’ or ‘if I’m honest with myself, if I were in their situation, I would’ve likely done the same thing’.


Recognising our similarities connects us with our common humanity. Maybe we think they’ve overreacted or been too easily provoked? Yet we can also consider whether they could be justified in their words or actions? They may have good reasons we’re not aware of? Perhaps they’re just doing their job or what they’ve been told, or they didn’t mean it, or couldn’t find another way? Perhaps they were misled by others and relayed lies that they dutifully trusted and obeyed? So are they just lacking education? Or is it actually us who lacks education or has been misled? We don’t know everything, so why expect others to know what we know when we don’t know everything they know?


Perhaps it’s their background or history? Do they have a mental disorder like maybe a compulsion they cannot help that we should be more understanding of? Did they mean well despite the outcomes? Maybe we did start the row or contribute to fan the flames? Would we have reacted the same way if we were in their shoes? Were they just protecting their own family or country, as we would with our own? Were they in a desperate situation? We serve ourselves, and so do they, so was it ‘fair enough’? We lash out when in fear or pain, and so do they.


Whenever we call someone stubborn for wanting their way – we’re being stubborn for wanting our way! We might defend ourselves by retaliating with a sharp rebuttal of our own, but we might be guilty of a point they make about us if we’re honest with ourselves. We’re complex characters in reality, with complex motivations – and so are others too. The people we regard as gentle can still express a mean stare, and the people we regard as selfish can still spare a dime. A doting parent can fantasise for a fleeting second about swerving the car onto oncoming traffic when the kids in the back won’t stop wailing. A terrifying teacher can harbour tender thoughts that’d make you weep. A seemingly self-assured comedian when in front of a crowd can feel timorous when they’re only one-to-one with you.


When others criticise a trait of ours, we’ll demand specific examples of our alleged incriminating behaviour, which we’ll then excuse away one by one (e.g. ‘I wasn’t feeling my best that day’ or ‘they were aggravating me’). We’ll however be fine about making sweeping generalisations about others and believing them to be true!


Yet if we’re not simply ‘evil’ or ‘stupid’ despite our own imperfections and mistakes then neither are others. All things considered, we need more empathy and compassion rather than hypocrisy or self-righteous conceitedness.


Meow. So, very often it’s our own negative suppositions that cause problems, and without them, a situation would’ve de-escalated or stayed defused. We shouldn’t suppose our own suppositions are always correct. When someone else’s words or actions are ambiguous – it’s better to assume the best and get on with our life!


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