Don't Assume You Know

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9
I honestly can’t remember which book I was reading that talked about not assigning thoughts to people.  In other words, don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking, especially about you.  We project our thoughts and feelings onto someone else.  I’ve been pondering this for weeks.  I’ve realized I do it without even realizing it.
For instance,  when I was teaching the tennis serve to a student.  She was having a hard time with her toss. I know how frustrating it can be so I assumed she was frustrated.  When I said something to her, she wasn’t frustrated at all. She hadn’t even noticed her toss was off because she was still hitting the ball.  She was just happy to hit the ball.  I was completely wrong  about what she was thinking.
I’m often wrong when I think my husband is hungry because I’m hungry.  I’m wrong when I think he must be cold because I’m cold, or tired because I’m tired.  I’m wrong when I think a friend is irritated at me because she hasn’t instantly responded to my text.
In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) this tendency is referred to as a mind-reading error which is the belief that you know what someone else thinks or feels. When you act upon that assumption and it is wrong, problems can occur in the relationship. For instance, people may make accusations based on their assumptions: “I know you think my idea is stupid—you’re such a critical person!” or “You would rather be with her than with me.”
Often what a person sees in others is their own thoughts and feelings reflected back at them. If they are self-critical, they believe others are critical of them. If they are insecure, they believe others couldn’t possibly like them or consider them competent.
It really is a struggle to not assume you know what someone else is thinking.  I find myself battling this often.  I have begun to recognize when I am doing this.  I’ve found one easy way to catch myself is when I’m assigning a negative thought to someone.  “She’s mad at me.”, “I’m bothering her.” etc.  These quickly tell me I’m doing some mind reading.  I remind myself I don’t know.  Don’t make assumptions.
Even more challenging is to realize we don’t know what God is thinking.  We automatically assume He’s upset with us for this or that.  We think there is no way He could forgive us for whatever sin we’ve committed.  We often think other people deserve His blessing but we really don’t.  None of those statements are true.  His word tells us He loves us (John 3:16). He forgives us (Psalm 103:12).  We are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8).   He wants to bless us. (Psalm 20:4).
It’s true we don’t know what other people are thinking about us, but we can know what God thinks.  When we spend time in His word we quickly realize  how much He loves us.  We may not know what He is up too, often we don’t.   We don’t need to know that.  We trust it is good, no matter what the circumstances look like. What we do need to know is how much He loves us.  All of us.
I’m working on giving up the mind reading.  Instead, I’m trying to focus on what I do know.  God loves me, unconditionally.  I’m to love others the same way.  I find loving others, no matter what, helps me give them the benefit of the doubt.  I stop assuming the worst, instead I look for ways to love them.  That is way more fun and a lot less frustrating.

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