Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

Challenge our assumptions.

Challenge our assumptions.

One of the paradoxical perceptions of humans is that we are rational creatures. There is no denying that we are capable of thinking rationally. Despite that, we also base our thinking on our feelings and emotions most of the time, which can sometimes makes it less rational and less accurate than we assume it would be.

Admit it, we often jump into conclusions. It is so easy to jump to conclusions before we even assess the situation rationally. We chose to believe what we assume instead of seeking clarification. We assume that someone who might seem happy on social media would be just as happy in real life. However, social media is not a definite indication of this. The fact could be that the person only seems happy on social media, not in real life. Assumptions are the unquestioned beliefs behind our decisions and actions. Often, this could lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding in a relationship.

The way we interpret a situation tends to be biased as it is based on our upbringing, our cultural and religious background as well as our emotions and feelings. I remember reading an article about the way the human brain simplifies information under stress. In a moment of tension or conflict, we often make hasty judgements and react in a way that we let our emotions take control of the way we think.

Robert Burton, a neurologist, explains that when we jump to conclusions, our brains reward us with dopamine whenever we recognise and complete patterns, whenever we fill in the gaps and reach an understanding about something. The issue is that people prioritise certainty over accuracy, so they just need to think that they are right. People get the satisfaction of being certain even though the thought provokes anxiety and upset.

We should challenge our assumptions by asking ourselves what we know to be objectively true. It is also helpful to note the feelings associated with the assumptions. This will help us understand whether we are thinking rationally or are we making unwarranted conclusions. We live in such an unfathomable world of misunderstandings, even with people who are close to us (Isn’t that ironic?). We need to stop assuming and replace it with rational thinking focusing on why the situation happened rather than jumping to conclusions. Keeping an open mind definitely helps as it allows us to understand a situation through the mind of others. We should aim to separate fact from fiction and avoid acting impulsively. True facts are always a good fall back plan.

We should take into consideration that sometimes our assumptions can be wrong and unhelpful. Sometimes we don’t or won’t know something unless the fact is evident, we should accept things as it is and that is more certain than our own assumptions. If we can interpret what is going on more consciously, we would make better decisions which will have more positive impacts on our lives. As I said in my last post, we also need  to be careful with what we say because even transparency could be lost in translation.

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