Though I don't plan my life around it or even regularly follow its advice, I enjoy reading my horoscope each morning. I get a kick out of seeing what's supposedly "in the stars" for me each day. But last Friday, my horoscope said something that rang so true for me, I had to cut it out and tape it up in my office. The advice was this: "Make only empowering assumptions."
Think about it -- how often do we jump to conclusions and assume the worst throughout the course of our days? And how often do we make everything about us? Maybe a friend doesn't return our call or email right away and we assume she's upset with us for some reason. Or a colleague moves forward with an idea we discussed and we assume that she's trying to undermine our position with the boss. Or maybe we sense that we're getting the once-over from two nearby whispering women and we automatically assume that they're finding fault with our appearance.
What these assumptions have in common is that they separate us from our power and shake our confidence. Not to gender stereotype, but it seems to be a particularly common problem among women. Women are often quick to assume the worst about themselves, while at the same time assigning to others more intelligence and capabilities than those people might possess.
Is it biology or social conditioning? Nature or nurture?
I suspect it's the latter. But what I do know is that we can choose to make different assumptions.
That friend who's not returning our calls may simply be caught up in the endless go-round of her daily responsibilities. That colleague who mentions the idea you discussed may intend to CC you on the follow-up email to the boss, indicating that the two of you have been working together since the start. And those two whispering women might just be talking about how much they love your outfit -- or how they wished they had a body like yours.
When we shift from making negative assumptions to those that empower us, we also shift the place from which we act. We change how we move through the world when we're not so quick to believe the worst about ourselves...or others.
Assume those women are talking about how great your outfit is and you'll walk differently. Assume you're just as capable of understanding a complex idea as the rest of the group you're working with and you'll find yourself tackling work in a new way. Assume others are caught up in their own worries and concerns, and you'll find yourself reaching out more and potentially building deeper friendships. A shift in perspective leads to a shift in action -- and it's yours to make.
So, just for today, follow my horoscope's advice: Make only empowering assumptions.