When Isaac Lidsky was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that causes vision loss and eventually blindness, he knew it was a death sentence.
As he writes in his inspiring book Eyes Wide Open, “It will end my life as I know it. End independence and confidence. End strength and leadership. End achievement…I will be helpless, pathetic, weak. I will live trapped in my mind. Blindness will disconnect me from the world.”
Lidsky knew he’d live a sad, lonely life. He knew he’d be tormented by memories of his life before becoming blind. He knew he’d never marry. If he did, he knew that his wife could never respect or love him. After all, he’d never respect or love himself. He knew he’d never be a father. He knew he’d be dependent on his parents.
But here’s the thing about all these “facts” Lidsky was certain of: They never happened.
Today, Lidsky is happily married. He has four kids (including triplets!). He graduated from Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He started and successfully sold a tech company and transformed a struggling construction company into an industry leader. He also speaks to and works with organizations all over the world. And he’s only 37.
All of us make assumptions. We make assumptions about what we can and cannot do. We make assumptions about what we need to be in order for others to love us. We make assumptions about what healthy and beautiful look like. We make assumptions about our skills, about our strength (or lack thereof). About our ability to stop drinking or dieting, to build a fulfilling career, to rise from the ashes.
We make assumptions about everything.
But we don’t see our assumptions as actual assumptions. No. We see them as indisputable facts. We rarely question them. We simply consume them.
Instead, pause. Consider reconsidering your assumptions, which you can do by simply making a list of your beliefs. Beliefs about your life in general. Beliefs about what you’re currently struggling with or going through. Beliefs about what you need to be happy or fulfilled. Beliefs about relationships. Beliefs about your family. Your job. Yourself. Beliefs about obstacles you’re certain you can’t overcome. Beliefs about what you can’t do. Beliefs that you think are unshakable facts.
Question these beliefs. Challenge them. Stop standing in your own way.
Sure sometimes, things don’t work out. Sometimes life may be as devastating as you thought it would be. That negative thing you thought would happen does. The relationship falls apart. The job promotion is given to someone else. You fail. You get rejected. You stumble. You lose.
But we can give ourselves a chance. We can stop interpreting assumptions as facts. We can try. We can stop throwing rocks at our feet. We can create environments that support us with people who support us, too. We can choose other options beyond berating our bodies. We can stop being reduced by events we can’t control. We can adjust our perspective. We can see anew. As Wayne W. Dyer wrote, “The only difference between a flower and a weed is judgment.”
We can let ourselves keep walking—again, without throwing stones on the street.