I got a frantic call from my husband Reed the other day. “Help! My colleague ‘Josh’ thinks that I am Dave! He even told someone else in the company that I am Dave.”
I laughed, but I understood his concern. Dave is the husband of the heroine in my novel Ascending Ladders, and Dave isn’t a particularly nice guy.
One of the most fascinating things about being a fiction writer has been seeing the reaction of friends, family, and colleagues that read the book, because Josh is by no means alone.
Almost everyone assumes that they know who the characters are in real life.
Assumptions. They can be funny, heart-breaking, offensive, and are often downright wrong.
Which is yet another reason I love the book: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.
I talked about the First Agreement in my article Loyal Teammate or Pathological Liar? a few weeks ago, but the Third Agreement is what’s relevant here:
Don’t Make Assumptions.
“We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything,”* Ruiz says (emphasis mine).
It’s true, isn’t it? We do make assumptions about everything. We’re always trying to fill in the gaps or make things fit into our worldview.
But saying “Don’t make assumptions”? Ha! That’s almost like telling us not to breathe!
My husband eventually got me on a three-way call with Josh so that I could assure him that Reed was NOT Dave!
But what I learned was that even giving Dave a few characteristics of my husband, like being a technical sales consultant who travels a lot (even though Dave was in a different industry), was enough for people to fill in the gap and assume that Dave was Reed – or at least closely patterned after him.
In fact, Reed is, in most ways, the exact opposite of the character Dave.
Josh’s assumption was easily corrected, and we all laughed. After all, the leap wasn’t really that far, especially since Josh doesn’t know Reed in his personal life.
But the whole incident highlighted what Ruiz say about assumptions:
“The problem with assumptions is that we believe they are the truth.”*
And we do!
Josh believed that Reed was “Dave” to the point that he even told someone else! It was funny, except that it could have damaged my husband’s reputation if enough people started believing it as the truth.
Making assumptions – and acting on them – can cause so much damage, especially in our relationships with other people.
That’s why what they say about Assume . . . “it makes an a** out of you and me” . . . is so true.
So, my friend, even though making assumptions is as natural as breathing, I’m going to try to be more aware of when I am making them . . . and hopefully, cut myself off before I start believing they are true!
How about you?
With love and light,
P.S. – A special thanks to “Josh” for allowing me to share this story with you.
*1997. Ruiz, M.R. The Four Agreement: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book). San-Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing.