Have you ever talked yourself into believing something was true with no real basis? You notice your teenager is especially surly one morning, so you start researching drug rehab programs, or a friend doesn’t acknowledge you at a social gathering, so you convince yourself that you are no longer friends? It’s called jumping to conclusions, and man, is it dangerous for me.
Last year I convinced myself that my Mom was not going to make the trip to see her granddaughter graduate from high school; there was no real basis for the feeling, except that we hadn’t talked for a while and I realized it would be a difficult trip for her to make. I knew I should call her and make sure but I was afraid I would be confirming my fear, so I stewed on it for a couple of days. I had conversations in my head, with her rationalizing her choice and me ending up angry and hurt.
Finally I got so tired of feeling this way that I called my Mom, only to be reassured that she wouldn’t miss the occasion for anything and details of when she would arrive. The negative emotions evaporated immediately and I was relieved so all was well, right? Not really. I felt the need to confess to her what I had been feeling, because it wasn’t fair to her or to our relationship.
You can see that I haven’t mastered it, but I am realizing it and trying to learn from it. From my own research, there are some clear ways to avoid jumping to conclusions:
1) Rely on history – is my fear in line with what I know of this person? My surly teen is not a morning person and has never shown signs of doing drugs. Perhaps she is tired. Wait a little longer before calling the authorities.
2) Remember it’s not all about you – ouch. Maybe my friend is in the middle of something I have no knowledge of, that has nothing to do with me, and she just didn’t see me at the concert.
3) Seek the truth – I could have spared myself hours of bluster if I had simply called my Mom when the thought occurred to me. I cannot rely on my intuition with all matters, sometimes I need to go to the source.