We all do it…without a shred of evidence to support our inner thoughts, our worries and internal gremlins, we fill the void with assumptions. When we make assumptions, we do so at the effect of our personal biases.

Assumptions allow our personal insecurities and worries to predominate our lives. This effect, RARELY, leads to a positive/anabolic perspective on life. For example, few of us may assume that we could not complete a demanding physical event like running a marathon when we haven’t trained or ever ran that distance. Rather we see the videos of “trained athletes” stumble across the finish and we know how uncomfortable it is to start a running program and automatically assume “we could never do that”. There is no fact to support that belief, simply the assumption that we are not capable.

In relationships, our partner or friend may be short with us one day. They may later bail on a lunch date or not pick up our call, or respond to our text. Rather than investigate the why or understanding their situation, if we are feeling a bit vulnerable, we automatically assume. We assume that they are mad at us, or that they have a lost their interest in us, when there may be no evidence to support that conclusion. How we respond may then actually support our assumption, by being defensive or upset and in turn forcing that person to become upset and then …see…” I told you they were mad at me!” When in actuality, they may have had valid and unrelated reasons for why they were not communicating at that moment.

This then becomes the risk of making assumptions in the absences of facts. When making assumptions you are prone to self-limiting thoughts and behaviors, some of which could have dire consequences at worst and unneeded worry at best. Take for example a recent experience I had where I made some internal assumptions, void of facts, and sent myself into a near anxiety attack. To get to that point, however, you need a little bit of a backstory. I apologize in advance, some of this may be “TMI”.

At the beginning of 2017, I ended up in the hospital with a medical emergency that if had not been discovered could have resulted in severe/life changing complications. Basically, I had been experiencing swelling of my feet and weight gain, which for a guy that now prides himself on his fitness level in his 50s is concerning to say the least. Unable to figure out why I was having swelling and weight gain, I went to see my doctor. During my visit my Blood Pressure was literally through the roof. Fast forward to ending up in the ER, with a dangerously high BP and honestly peeing every 15 minutes (I have no secrets, this isn’t even the TMI part…). I ended up being admitted to the hospital and within a day had an emergency urinary catheter punctured through my abdomen, where it was discovered that I had an obstruction in my internal plumbing, which likely had been gradually closing up for decades and eventually closed to the point where I couldn’t void. In retrospect, I had had difficulty with urination for years, couldn’t even spell my name in the snow…and my name is only 4 letters…(still not the TMI part) but figured this was a function of age and just “me”. This was my first wrong assumption, without researching facts to support that this was related to my old”er” age; I was unaware the something was wrong and just assumed this was my “fate”. I would plan out bathroom trips and was, in my own head, famous for doing the potty dance in my late 40s and I accepted this was the best it would get. When in fact this problem was the root cause for not only the potty dance, but the weight gain, and dangerously high BP.

Fast forward a few weeks and I find out that this obstruction was not normal. Not only was this not normal it was abnormally large for such an occurrence. In fact, it was HUUGE in size, so much so that surgery was required to repair it. I will save the gory details (this is the TMI part, it could get way worse)…except for my lower lip is still numb in places even today, I have learned true shrinkage in the tender parts as I sat on an “ice saddle” for days, and basically learned to drive leaning so far backwards a gangster would be proud. I couldn’t really work out for about 5 months, which did wonders for the fitness pride previously mentioned. But on the back end of the tunnel, there was a bright light, surgery was a success and now I have an incredible ability to watch a whole movie without a nature break, 4-hour car rides…now are even rest stop free! Not sure that you all can really appreciate what a cool feeling that is, even today I am like a toddler using the big boy potty!! (yep…TMI)

This, however, leads us to the second wrong assumption and near panic attack. Just recently, Panda and I took a long 10 hour road trip to Oklahoma to visit family. During the ride, I begin to feel like the old “potty dance” Shad, literally stopping every 30 minutes to tour all of Arkansas’ quality rest stops. About the 3rd time in I begin to panic, I have now convinced myself surgery has failed. By the time I get to OKC for the night, I have fully assumed that I will need to get to an ER, likely will need to have surgery (my lip cannot take that again…see me personally for the gory details) and probably will need a catheter the rest of my life. That night, I slept off and on and literally dreamed of all I my fitness work being eliminated overnight.

Here was the reality, the facts which I chose to ignore, because my own personal gremlins decided to jump in and present these previous assumptions as facts. First, during the day, I had had very little water to drink, just forgot. Second, I had a ton of coffee to drink, thanks to not getting my nap with Panda after a tough workout in the AM. Third, during the evening drive, while at a truck stop I found an energy drink that they don’t sell in TN, which I used to drink all the time in my “Fat Shad” days. So excited, I kissed the can like long lost lovers and downed that baby in minutes. Reality was because of my unknown medical issue from fat Shad days, this drink causes a reaction in me similar to what my symptoms had been for years, potty dance, included.

Long story longer, by the next morning, rehydrating myself overnight and in the am, allowing the energy drink (we are formally no longer on speaking terms, let alone kissing the ever again) to fully pass through my system…I was completely fine by the AM.
Here is the moral of the story, left to our own insecurities, lacking or ignoring objective data, we make assumptions. The assumptions me make most often serve to support or deepest worries, about life, about relationships, about finances or about health issues. In some cases, assumptions can lead to life changing or life-threatening conditions, in other situations they can lead to unnecessary worry and concern.

Worry, concern, anxiety, or anger are all forms of catabolic (negative energy). The catabolic energy used for this worry and concern, causes an ill ease. It causes us to not see the best outcomes, the true opportunities but rather can lead to feelings of anger and blame. Rather than use catabolic energy for such worry based on assumptions, use anabolic energy to start a fact-finding mission. Ask, “Why did my friend bail on our plans, what do I know?”, ask “What proof is there to support the thought in the back of my head?” For me, these should have been, “Is what I am experiencing normal at my age?”, or “Up until this moment in time everything has been great in my recovery, what facts do I have that would support that something has gone wrong?” If no proof exists, do not allow the thought to the front of mind, rather dismiss the assumption until you know the facts. For me, avoiding assumptions years earlier and finding the truth, could have given me years more of quality movies and road trips. At the very least, I would have made a 10 hour drive recently one with an even more found memory, rather than just a “lesson learned”…