How to Get the Gumption to Stop those Assumptions and Feel Safe!

How do You Feel Unsafe?

It appears that the human experience has largely evolved into one where many people are experiencing the lack of feeling safe. The number of ways in which that appears in our lives is something that we need to bring into our awareness so that we can change our experiences. Yet much of it is hidden underneath the many assumptions that we make in how we perceive the world around us.

It is hard wired into our brains that we keep ourselves safe. Fight or flight is a standard evolutionary response designed to alert us to potential physical dangers. Our minds have not caught up with how our society has evolved. That fight or flight response is now used to interpret emotional stimuli, and this response is disproportionate to reality. We are led to believe by our own bodies and minds that we are frequently unsafe, when the opposite is true.

If you were to look at every conflict you have ever been in, at every emotional reaction that you have ever had, at every hurt that you have ever felt, the common thread is an assumption that you are not safe. Just being able to see and acknowledge that simple fact is profound in how you can then see yourself. You see your own innocence far more easily than in any other method of growth.

It is when you see this lack of safety in your life that you also realize that it applies to everyone, not just to yourself. Forget the positive affirmations and the like for now…they do not work if the core of your being is not safe. Otherwise what you learn remains in your head, strongly in your intellect, but not within your heart or applied to real life.

Making Assumptions and Creating Meaning

Is it a lack of trust that you feel? That is one of the outcomes of feeling unsafe in your own personal world. That is only one expression of many in the way that feeling unsafe expresses itself. Of course when you feel unsafe, then fear has fertile ground in which to grow.

If we do not fully understand ourselves and more importantly, what subconscious motivators we have for our behaviors, we end up making assumptions based on our fears. If we have no fears we do not assume anything and we are in a position to not apply any meaning to our experiences.

Consider what it would be like if a person was born, but was not raised by a human. Nothing would have any meaning. Life would be strictly experiential through the 5 senses. Now consider your own life. Where has all the meaning that you have placed on everything come from? Primarily from your parents and from other humans. People are what have given everything meaning.

Yet if life has no meaning other than what we give it, then why do we stay so true to these beliefs that we have learned, most of which reside in our subconscious minds? We have assumed throughout all of our lives that what we have been taught, that what we understand is true. Yet it is only based on the meaning that previous humans have passed on to us.

We are taught to give meaning to everything, yet we hardly question any of it. Our fears slowly build up from childhood onwards, adding a little bit each day to an unconscious lack of safety. Over time we combine the meanings that we have been taught with more fear, which further limits our ability to clearly perceive things. The result is that our automatic response is to make assumptions, erroneously believing that we are protecting ourselves against perceived dangers.

The Role of Assumptions in Conflict

Let’s think again about conflict and emotional reactions. When we make assumptions we are executing that perfect environmental storm. Just before a conflict begins we assume that we know the meaning of what we see and experience (that it is somehow hurtful to us) and we go into emotional reaction. Yet it is only our assumptions that lead us down that path.

This may be a leap of faith for some people, yet here is an easy way to test this. Just ask questions instead of assuming that the meaning you are giving something is “right”. Of course questions can be asked in a way that supports the evidence of being right and you end up feeling justified in hanging on to your meaning and to continue along the path of being upset. That is your choice. Just be aware that you are making that choice.

Conflict can be avoided if you do not allow yourself to make that first assumption and do not apply meaning to a situation. Whatever it is that you are feeling just prior to conflict or emotional reaction contains the information you need to work through your own fears or judgments. Take your focus off of the person or situation that is triggering you. They are not the source of how you are feeling. Your assumption about what something means is the source of how you are feeling and creating internal conflict that you are about to externalize.

The person that you feel is hurting you in some way does not have an intention to hurt you. Whether you believe this or not, you must repeatedly tell your mind this. Many times conflict occurs because you mistakenly feel that somebody has affronted you. Even if the other person is in the fight part of fight or flight, understand that fear causes people to say and do things in their subconscious attempt to protect themselves from a perceived hurt, mirroring your fears.

Changing Your Fight or Flight Response

Now we want to focus on what it will take to minimize your fight or flight response, to train your own psyche to learn that you are far safer than what your own mind wants you to think. This will take time and practice and a lot of convincing for an untrusting subconscious self!

Step one is being willing to acknowledge that you do not know what the true meaning is behind another person’s behaviors. Step two is to be sure in your own mind and to actively tell yourself “even though I think I understand what is happening, I really do not understand what the other person is thinking, intending, or even hoping. I just do not know” (chances are neither does the other person!). So much happens in our subconscious minds that we need to become aware of.

What you are doing in these two steps is taking the focus off of the assumptions and meanings that you are placing on somebody else. The next step is to put your focus back on yourself. When you do this what happens? Do you revert back to the meanings that you were given about yourself by instantly going into self-judgment? If you do, you have just made another assumption, this time about yourself. What do you need from yourself to feel safe?

At some point in your life you assumed that what you heard and learned was accurate. If what you are thinking or feeling causes you to feel badly in any way, it is a judgment and it is inaccurate. Question why whatever you think about yourself is true. Chances are that what you were taught is just what your parents learned from their parents…a generational belief.

Every meaning needs to be questioned, especially the meanings that you have about yourself. Consider the wild impact of this thought “everything only has the meaning that you give it”. Question the validity of every negative thought you have ever had about yourself. In fact question every time you question or doubt yourself. Then keep asking why, according to who, why should that be true, and so on until your mind has no more to say about you.

All the self judgments that you have; all your fears and doubts contribute to the lack of safety that you feel. Every emotional reaction comes from interpreting an event as being potentially unsafe for you. Every conflict starts with that feeling of lack of safety. When you understand this and take action to change this automated response, you will have an entirely different experience of life. As you feel safer you become less reactive and become even more aware.

The Road to Peace and Safety

The next time you think you are in conflict, remind yourself that you are not under attack by the other person, they are in fight or flight just like you are. The only attack comes from your mind erroneously thinking that it needs to protect you … based on its assumption .. based on the fears it has learned … based on the meaning that was given to things in the past … based on a feeling of lack of safety. We are always looking for new tools in our growth and this is a very powerful one.

So, if you are faced with a potential conflict or are already in one, ask yourself, what assumptions am I making here? Whether you instantly get an answer or not, ask questions about what just happened. Ask the other person what is happening for them. If they get angry ask them why they are angry. What is it that they became afraid of in that moment? How are they not feeling safe? Look for what assumption they might be making in that moment, without judging them for it.

The next time you go into emotional reaction and you feel the fight or flight response starting, ask yourself how I am I not feeling safe right now? What assumption is this based on? What fear is underneath this assumption that I am making? What am I feeling defensive about? Question why you feel the need to protect yourself. When you feel safe, you can help the other person find safety as well, completely disarming the potential conflict.

This dialogue is intended to give you a new tool, an option to what you previously knew. This is something that you do want to try at home, at work, in public, anywhere that you are. Questioning everything and taking on the position that you do not know the meaning behind what you see and hear is the key to your growth and to reaching peace of mind.

If you want to Get the Gumption to Stop those Assumptions and Feel Safe or if you want help with any other issue, contact me to get The Help You Need. Right Here. Right Now.

Ewa Schwarz

your questions and comments on this article as well as suggestions for future articles: Ezine Comments and Suggestions.

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I thank you for your continued support.

Thursday, July 02, 2009
09:54 AM

I can certainly see your point and it all sounds good in theory but it is just not practical. We are emotional beings and I believe that our fight or flight instinct was always intended as a physical and emotional response. Doing what you are suggesting would result in us letting people treat us however they want. Because it's not their fault. They are just reacting in a way that they have been taught. I'm sorry, but if I have been hurt before and I start to recognize certain behaviors that led to that hurt, I'm not going to let it happen again. That's not healthy. And what are you supposed to do if you are trying this new way and nobody else in your world is or even willing to try? Are you just supposed to let them treat you any way they want? Or maybe you should cut them off completely? How healthy is that. The fight or flight response is there for a reason. We should use it if we want to survive.

Thursday, July 02, 2009
11:51 AM

Hi Gigi. This is like somebody telling me that they will not like a new food without ever having tasted it! It will remain a theory for you if you don't try it. You are making assumptions about what my words mean based on your personal experiences and applying meaning to what I am saying based on your past. Your past cannot and does not apply to anyone else's experience. That is the main point here. If you can identify and release your own assumptions, you will then be open to seeing different meanings and changing your experience. That is the ultimate accountability. When you do this for yourself, your natural interactions with others change, creating the healthy boundaries that you seek. You don't need other people to think the same way you are the only person who will ever think like you. It is in letting go of thinking that you need other people to be a certain way that you will find answers and solutions. The next time you are in emotional reaction, at the verge of conflict, or somebody is "treating" you in a certain way, try using the tools that you are given here

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
02:07 PM

Does this apply to situations of obvious abuse? My deepest fears seem to attach to painful sexual abuse when a toddler, surely a case of being "unsafe". This seems different from parental teachings. (My parents don't seem to have been aware of the abusive situation.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009
10:32:02 AM

Hi Rascal. Yes, this does apply to situations of obvious abuse. Thank you for pointing this out. The pain of abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional is passed on from person to person unless the cycle is stopped through healing. All abused people carry the pain from abuse in different ways. Sometimes that pain is externalized (continuing the cycle of abuse to another) and sometimes it is internalized (continuing the cycle of abuse to oneself) and there is every combination imaginable between those two points.

Because some people have a difficult time with forgiving, it can be easier to instead redefine the event so that you understand the abusers behavior. Not excuse the behavior, but understand it so deeply that you come to conclusion that their choices had nothing to do with you, that you were innocent, always have been, and always will be.

Abuse occurs in an intense, unconscious form of fight or flight where literally, the person "loses their mind" for that time. The definition of insanity is "such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity..".

After an abusive event, internal or external, there is tremendous guilt, the power of which is equal to the rage. That leads to intense self punishment, which leads to incredible resentment, feeding that burning fire of vast suppressed rage. I use superlative words here as they are appropriate and accurately reflect the process in a deeply wounded mind. This painful cycle remains unless consciously broken.

I hope that you have sought out help to resolve the pain and the fears that your experience of abuse created within you. You can free yourself from that pain with a shift in your consciousness.

Ewa Schwarz

Thank you for your continued support.

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