Our Immediate Assumption:
- The person in the car cut you off because they wanted you to get hurt.
- Your friend rescheduled because she’s flaky.
- You had a difficult workout because you’re not good enough.
- You hit snooze because you’re lazy.
The Benevolent Assumption:
- The person in the car cut you off because their family member is in the hospital.
- Your friend rescheduled because your friendship is so strong she can trust you’ll understand.
- You had a difficult workout because your body is getting stronger.
- You hit snooze because you need more rest.
Which side of the spectrum are your assumptions? Are they immediate/malicious or benevolent?
The benevolent assumption brings more peace to our bodies and to our lives. We’re no longer fighting against ourselves or others, we’re working WITH.
You might be scared that you have it wrong. And if you take the benevolent assumption you’ll get taken advantage of. I totally get it!
But here’s the crazy thing: even if you’re wrong, and the person has a malicious intent, there’s no harm in taking the benevolent assumption. There’s no harm in rewiring the brain towards goodness rather than anger and distrust. Because in those situations, taking the malicious intention doesn’t help you any. When someone cuts you off, you could scream expletives or you could say “travel safely”. When you hit snooze you could say “you’re so lazy”, or you could say “you deserve rest.”. These only serve to pacify your world, not harm it.
One of my favorite little parables goes as follows: “If you have a hard time with someone over breakfast, that person might be hard to work with. But if you have a hard time with someone at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, check in and see if you’re the one that’s hard to work with.”
Same applies here: when you assume benevolence, you’ll get more benevolence back. AND, your spidey senses will be tuned to see maliciousness when it occurs.
Run an experiment. Assume benevolence today, and see how your world changes.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.