It’s “Stir-up Sunday” the day when we traditionally make the cakes and puddings, allowing them a few precious weeks to mature in the darkness of a cupboard in time for the Christmas festival.
Most people, when asked why we call it “Stir-up Sunday”, would make the assumption that it’s a reference to the mixing and stirring of dried fruits and alcohol but it actually refers to the Anglian church prayer for the day which begins “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.
Assumptions are part of our existence, and life would be unworkable if we couldn’t take some things for granted, but often our familiarity with routine and predictability goes too far, and we find ourselves in a place where assumption does more harm than good.
As a young man, I often made the assumption that life would be more of a challenge than it needed to be. Maybe I assumed I would fail or took inevitable rejection for granted.
We project a version of ourselves onto the world to the point that the world stops questioning its accuracy and accepts it as the whole truth.
Once, playing a game of “Therapy” (the signs were there thirty years ago!) with my girlfriend and her family, a card came up with the question, “Which player at the board wishes they had been born someone else”. Someone said “Graham”, and everyone agreed, except me, but I said nothing. I understood that it was a reasonable assumption based on the evidence I offered.
Assumptions about people are the most damaging of all.
When we assume lovers are angry with us, that they tire of us, or that we are overlooked we rarely wait for the bothersome triviality of evidence. We rely on our instinct, or the past, or the image we hold of them in our minds.
In this way, we prevent ourselves from growth. We cannot see anything other than what we saw before however sad and miserable it feels.
Through almost all the couples I have worked with over the years there is a theme which illustrates a fundamental difficulty in their relationship, and the reason they find themselves in a never-ending loop of frustration and destruction.
Somewhere along the line, we stop listening to our partners, presumably because we feel we have amassed enough information to know what they are thinking before they do.
At this point, a remarkable thing happens. Instead of owning our own emotions we tell our partners about theirs. I witness an exchange of assumption with neither party really knowing, but instead preferring to work on the basis of what is past, what they have learned, and what they take for granted, thus consigning their future to the same dissatisfying fog.
None of us like to be told how we feel.
“You never cared about me”
“You’ll never change”
“You don’t trust me”
It’s difficult to predict the shift when, instead of assumption, we rely on our personal truth instead.
It’s much harder to respond to the truth with an assumption, not only because vulnerability is disarming, but because it reveals something of us so straightforward it cannot be misunderstood.
I’ve been making the same Christmas cake for as many years as I can remember. Sometimes I ice it and sometimes not. Either way, I imagine it will come out quite nicely and everyone will enjoy eating it well into January. That’s an assumption without too much risk.