In the book, "The Four Agreements," the author lists making assumptions as one of the things we do to defeat ourselves and others. For a long time, I thought this only applied to my personal revelations, but, recently, I have noticed an alarming trend: Assuming you know what others are going through. This morning, on my daily beach walk, I was humming along happily, when I heard a voice on my left. "Consistence and persistence is key! You have to just keep working at it!" I turned to see a little old man smiling up at me with yellowed and crooked teeth. I nodded, somewhat confused as to what he was trying to encourage me about. I thought that maybe he has seen me walking every day for the past year and wanted to give me a verbal high five for losing the weight and getting into shape. He continued, "I gained 30 pounds last year and decided to start walking every day, and lost it soon after! You will get there too!" A moment went by and I realized he was ASSUMING that I had just started my walking regimen and wanted to lose weight!!!!!! Wow. I didn't hear much else that he said, as I was speechless and hurt. As he happily bopped away, he was probably thinking to himself, "I just helped that girl! I'm such a great person!" Meanwhile, in my world, the tears are starting to form behind my eyes. Here I was going along thinking that I was doing so well, and now it all crashed down on me. But wait......... I took a breath and realized that this man, as well intentioned as he thought he was, did not matter ONE BIT in my opinion of myself. In fact, as I watched him hobble away, I took note of the fact that he was older than dirt, and probably grew up in the era where being thin was a woman's only goal in life. It's not HIS fault that society drilled that into our heads back then. He was honestly trying to be nice, and let me tell you: I will TAKE THAT!!! What others may or may not think of me is ever changing, depending on the perception. Just yesterday I was approached by a total stranger and told how beautiful I am. What's the difference between today and yesterday? NOTHING. It's simply perception. And MY perception is all that truly matters.
There are always going to be people who think you are fat, unattractive, unsuccessful, or whatever your sore spot about yourself is. But in the end, YOU are the one who has to look at yourself in the mirror, and YOU are the only one who's opinion matters. If you are confident in your assets, no one can dissuade you from that perception.
Please do not assume that you know what others are going through. It's likely that you do not. If you feel the need to offer someone encouragement, or help, perhaps phrasing it in the form of a question can be more proactive. "How long have you been walking?" would have helped to avoid the situation this morning. Offering unsolicited advice and "help" is generally not something I do, simply because I find that most often, it is unwelcome and end up being offensive. So check yourself next time you feel the "need" to offer some poor soul your help. You have no idea what they are really going through, and making assumptions is likely to hurt them much more than you could imagine.