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Are Assumptions Cluttering Your Life?

One of my blogger-colleagues over at Real Simple, Erin Doland, wrote a FINE post today called, Keep Assumptions from Cluttering Up Your Life.

We all want to feel included…

Erin’s post has to do with “reading between the lines” and I personally enjoyed it very much because I’m guilty of doing this, maybe you are too? I’d like to quote her for a moment, “As a writer, I come into contact with eisegesis (the process of reading something into a text that isn’t in the text) all the time. People will read my articles and then write me e-mails referencing things that don’t appear in the text. I’ll mention a product that can help handicapped people, and then I’ll receive an e-mail asking me why I hate handicapped people. Or, I’ll write about a baby crib, and then I’ll receive an e-mail asking me why I hate people who co-sleep with their infants. The interpretations people make aren’t always negative, but they are always baffling because they are so far off base. So much time and energy is wasted over misconceptions and misinterpretations.” Erin said this so well I think.

Would you not agree that we all spend wayyyy to much time, especially as women, getting offended easily by things we either read online or see in person… I don’t see nearly as many men running around feeling excluded so I think it tends to be more of a girl thing. I talked to my husband about this and he assured me that most men don’t sit around for days thinking about how another man treated them at work, for instance.

It comes down to feeling excluded. I often think that being online amongst so many others freely sharing thoughts on blogs, forums, etc. that it can sometimes feel a bit like high school. Like some kind of popularity contest. I have seen this and I’m willing to bet that you’re nodding your head as you read this – you’ve felt it too.

I feel it all of the time, excluded, left out, dissed, however you term it. In the end, there is no real way to change this – no way to change feeling left out because we all feel left out at one time or another, we cannot avoid being the last girl picked to dance at times… Okay there is a way but it has to do with how we think: changing how we look and react to things. For instance, I recently helped someone who assists a producer of a popular television show to find people who would be appearing in a specific show they planned to tape and I did a lot of work to help them locate those people and in the end, they gave me absolutely no credit at all. In fact, they credited everyone except me. At first, I was upset. I wrote to them immediately and explained how I felt and an apology was sent back in return so I’m okay with it now. But still. Talk about being shut out.

Some of us are more sensitive than others, but even in the tough girls I see this genuine interest in fitting in and being accepted. I hope that you’ll read Erin’s blog post for some great tips on just how to avoid allowing assumptions to clutter your life because sometimes we aren’t being dissed at all, it’s just how we are perceiving things to be.

Since we are amongst friends here on this blog, I’d love to open this up for discussion. I’m interested in getting your thoughts on how you filter out negative thinking, how you avoid allowing assumptions to rule your thinking, and if you are currently feeling excluded or upset about something, air that laundry here because I’d love to hear what’s going on in your life and how you as a small business woman, blogger, man, woman, student, whatever – how do you handle feelings of being excluded: whether real or imagined. All I ask is that if you have issues against someone in particular, please do not state their real name because that is not needed.

I’ll share below my personal thoughts in the comments section as well, so it’s not just me asking you but I am willing to share on this topic too.

So who wants to go first? How do you avoid allowing assumptions to take over your life?

(photograph taken by holly becker)

Posted by decor8 in real talk on November 12, 2008

Your comments...

  1. elizabeth commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:25pm

    How timely! I’m dealing with just this thing at work right now! I’m working on a project with a co-worker, and I feel completely second-guessed by him because he’s checking over my work. I think of it as a sign of my trust and respect for him that I didn’t check over his portion of the work, and I’m deeply hurt (and offended) that he is so meticulously checking over my work! After a day away from it, I had calmed down (I was initially ready to definistrate him) and realized that he was just trying to help. I *know* that a second eye always catches things, and that it’s harder for me to check my own work… but…
    It really is just a case of reading in more than is there. It is something I really struggle with!

    elizabeths last blog post: the ring (only not really)

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  2. tif commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:29pm

    i recently ended a relationship with a man i love deeply based on the assumption that he planned to end it first. he’s not the greatest communicator, so i often found myself reading the writing on the wall. i am filled with regret. before reading this post, i thought there were other reasons, and there were, but assumption was the nail in the coffin. thanks holly.

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  3. tif commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:32pm

    thanks for helping to open my eyes. this post is very insightful and has prompted some much needed introspection.

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  4. rachael commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:36pm

    this is something i really try to stay away from…making assumptions that is…but it can be difficult at times. i saw on a saying written on my friend’s desk and promptly made one for myself (just an index card)…”for peace of mind, resign as executive director of the universe.” meaning, it’s not all about me. and remembering that i have no desire for it to be all about me. it clears assumptions up right away :)

    rachaels last blog post: welcome november!

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  5. Zee commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:40pm

    This is going to be a great discussion and I will come back to write something…I have to pick up my son at school and if I stay here right now he will be crying at the door…
    Hot one, right on Holly!

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  6. decor8 commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:42pm

    tif – so sorry to hear about your recent relationship ending. I truly believe that everything happens at the right time and for a reason whether we see it now or not, we will see it in the years to come. I was dating a man for 7 years that I ultimately did not marry and while I was ‘getting over’ it I met my current husband and I’ve been married happily for 7 years now and I see very clearly that it was all meant to happen this way. I’m sure things will turn around for you, I just know it.

    Rachael – I love that quote, never heard it before…thank you for sharing it with us! Really great.

    Holly

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  7. tif commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:53pm

    Rachael, that is a great quote!

    Thanks for the encouragement Holly. I really appreciate it. :)

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  8. Shanon commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 3:59pm

    Holly, this is a such an interesting topic. My head is swimming right now, so I don’t have anything specific to share or add. But I’m grateful that Erin wrote about this and that you’ve expanded on it.

    Shanons last blog post: There is a Chill in the Air

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  9. Jennifer commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:04pm

    “I talked to my husband about this and he assured me that most men don?t sit around for days thinking about how another man treated them at work, for instance.” I couldn’t help but chuckle at this, because I agree – I think this is true!

    This is a great post. I think a lot of bloggers have felt this way, including myself. I have always felt like the black sheep…for example in high school I wasn’t popular (which I’m actually glad about) but I wasn’t part of the outcasts either.

    It’s very easy to make assumptions especially if you are looking for acceptance, inclusion, whatever. How do I deal with this? Hmm, good question! I really try to focus on what path I’m on, whether or not I am happy with what I am doing, and not always looking for external validation, recognition, etc. Can be hard though, even in blogland, since it is a community which, hopefully, involves interaction!

    Maybe there is no way to stop making these assumptions but awareness is key – as well as knowing you are not the only one who has felt like that! Thank you , Holly.

    Jennifers last blog post: Beth Greeting Cards in the Shop

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  10. Ann commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:11pm

    When something happens that makes me feel that way, I try to be very objective about it. I’m actually really good at doing that most of the time. I see both sides to stories, so I’m often arguing one point with one person and then immediately switching sides to argue with someone else.

    When it comes to assumptions, there are different ways I handle it. If the person knows me, I assume they don’t mean to hurtful. It’s a waste of energy. If it seems that they really do want to hurt me in someway, then I don’t give them any time in my life anymore. If the person doesn’t know me (if I’m reading a blog), I usually realize that issues I may have are more about me than they are about the blogger. I don’t get offended easily. I want to learn more and in order to do that, I have to be open to different ideas and different methods of getting to points than I would do. And that’s great. Now, if the person who doesn’t know me is just offensive, I just drop them from my life as well.

    As for that feeling of exclusion, it’s important for me to look at what I bring to the table… with a critical eye. And if I’m doing all I can do, then maybe that community isn’t the right place for me. Even if I really want to be a part of it, it’s so much better to find the right place and put more energy there. And to be honest, I think, at least for me, that feeling excluded is more about jealousy than anything else.

    Anns last blog post: Finding the Right Trip

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  11. Isa commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:17pm

    Just as Elizabeth said…..how timely! I too am dealing with a situation at work where i feel TOTALLY left out. I am the newest member of a very small design team (who might as well be family). I am excluded from conversations and plans on a daily basis, and have to endure whispering from across the room. I am trying not to take it too seriously, as I don’t think its about me, but its hard not to get hurt feelings. Has anyone else been through this? How did you deal with it?
    p.s. I love decor8!

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  12. Kim commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:22pm

    Funny, I just said this to a colleague in reference to something about Prop 8 in California.

    I think my main issue is believing that everyone is essentially good. Not to say that people are not inherently good, but I surround myself with happy, creative, open-minded people, so it is really hard when I run across someone that is not that way. I assume the best of people and the get disappointed and hurt.

    I have no real way to combat this in my head. It just swirls around and I get more upset. Right now I just try to tell myself that not all people have my life experience and they do not see things the way I do. It helps a little.

    Kims last blog post: question: cleaning an (almost) new couch

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  13. Trina commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:25pm

    I am TOTALLY guilty of this more often than not, but i’m catching myself more and more, which in turn makes me think twice about it so it’s not happenning as much anymore.

    I think if you are aware, then you have acknowleged it, and it’s not nearly as negative or bad as you thought it was in the first place.

    Trinas last blog post: Unique Gift Idea’s: Three Potato Four & The Curiosity Shoppe

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  14. Nikko Moy commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:26pm

    Hey Holly,

    I really appreciate it when you bring up juicy content like this. It’s important to talk about the psychology behind how we communicate and react to each other, particularly via a blog space. I only just begun blogging myself and have for a while been posting to flickr, but have noticed what you had mentioned above. -Perhaps it’s just human nature to see things in your own perspective when reading material from a blog and not actually looking into the face of another person.

    A good example would be to compare commuting to work via automobile v. public transit. During rush hour people who drive cars tend to road rage because of we are in the separate spaces of each of our cars (I admit I am at fault of this too sometimes). During rush hour on the CTA (Chicago’s commuter train) people are crammed into a train car and are often literally pressed against each other but make the best of it.

    I think it has something to do with when people feel they are part of something bigger than themselves, they are willing to become more objective and positive.

    Perhaps your post, Holly is the perfect way to acknowledge that we are part of something big here on this blog-o-sphere as both readers and writers.

    Kindest,
    Nikko

    Nikko Moys last blog post: Brigitta Varadi

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  15. Anna @ D16 commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:29pm

    Why do you hate monkeys, Holly? ;)

    You know, I have ALWAYS felt like an outsider. Always. For my entire life, and in every situation. I tend to assume that people don’t like me, and I’m always shocked when I receive an email from someone other than my mother or a colleague. People don’t invite me to do things, either, and it’s just always been that way. I don’t really know why, but I’ve always assumed there’s something intrinsically unlikable about me. The result is that I’m very withdrawn socially, and I wind up excluding myself intentionally from situations where I know I will feel out of place.

    Feeling excluded, whether real or imagined, has become a big part of how I define myself. That’s sad, I guess, but it’s true, and I wear it like a badge every day of my life.

    Anna @ D16s last blog post: Where we?re at with the bathroom.

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  16. Erin commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:32pm

    I have totally felt that way at work (I’m part of a small team), and since I started blogging a few months ago, it’s also been an issue. It’s hard to feel like a small fish in a big pond when you also feel like you have a lot to offer. Sometimes I truly am self-defeating by feeling that way. I also had to re-examine for myself why I started blogging, because I began to get wrapped up in how many readers I have, what they think of me, etc. The moral of the story for me is that I needed to start doing things for myself and getting creative (hence my love of decor8!).

    Erins last blog post: I won’t be eating for the next two weeks

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  17. Carrie commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:33pm

    oh wow, this one has my head spinning. assumptions are the one thing the boy dislikes the most however in recent days, our communication has been faltering, we’ve been on a very rocky road and at times have even thought it better to part once and for all… i say all of that because it has lead both of us to making many assumptions which have in some cases been correct but in other cases caused hurt. some hurts have yet to heal. this is a big thing in my life i’m struggling to work through and unsure where it’s headed but this has me thinking about some of the reasons why i’m where i am right now.

    tx holly, as i’ve said before, i enjoy these kinds of posts, you really have a way of digging deep into some things and getting us thinking.

    hugs

    Carries last blog post: textile design

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  18. Kristan commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:40pm

    I’ve always been a little on the defensive side — okay, sometimes a LOT on the defensive side — but never was it worse than when I went to college. In middle and high school I had a very close-knit group of friends, and though we were very diverse (ethnically, socio-economically, geographically) we had the same core values, had gone to school together for years, and basically just GOT each other. Then in college I met NEW diverse people, and I didn’t get them, and they didn’t get me. I was accused of all sorts of things that made no sense, and because they made assumptions about me, I started making assumptions about them. Not a good excuse, but it’s what happened nonetheless. So I’ve spent the past year or two trying to undo that — WITHOUT losing those new friends. It’s been… interesting. And hard. And not always as successful as I’d like. But I think we CAN de-program ourselves from this kind of negative behavior, with a lot of conscious effort and practice. That’s what I’m doing anyway.

    (And meditation, occasionally. This sounds kind of hokey, but I visualize all my negative thoughts flying out of my body into a black sphere in front of my face, and then when everything from that day is out, I smash my hands against each other, thus “destroying” that ball of darkness. Other people have other methods, but I think it’s just the idea of cleansing yourself that makes you feel better.)

    Kristans last blog post: Writing with style, aka Why Kurt Vonnegut rocks

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  19. cindy k commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:44pm

    i read an interview with indra nooyi, the ceo of pepsi, regarding the best advice she ever received. she said her father told her to assume people are coming from a place of positivity and you will feel so much better. most people aren’t trying to hurt our feelings. when i feel bad or excluded, i try to remember that advice.

    as far as blogging, sometimes, i do feel the way you described like it’s back in high school. reading ‘you’ feel that way too makes me feel better. i still try harder on my blog thinking that it needs to be better to have more readers, but honestly, i think i drive myself crazy trying to do that. it should just be who i am, naturally, and i should accept it. otherwise, it’s no fun.

    thanks for asking, holly!

    cindy ks last blog post: collect : self-portrait

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  20. Niki commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:47pm

    meditation helps me put things into perspective and see the bigger picture! a lot of the time, I find myself becoming overwhelmed with the emotions of my current situation and I have to step back and remind myself of what REALLY matters to me. once that becomes clear, there is no need to assume because the matter at hand is no longer of importance. if it is truly of importance, i find that sometimes through simply sitting still and meditating, a correct reaction comes.

    Nikis last blog post: i love this jacket

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  21. michele commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:48pm

    Hey Holly,

    you should have you own reality tv show
    or audition for one
    then you would be seen by 30 million viewers
    you’d be famous

    I’m thinking a reality TV show about doing a good editorial page
    like for a magazine
    because you work at a magazine right?
    so a show where you are judged
    on your work
    like if it sucks or not

    oh wait
    Thats right they already have the show
    its called “STYLISTA”
    oh but then I just remembered
    you don’t watch reality TV especially
    one about ELLE Magazine

    oh well
    but I still think you should be on reality TV
    your so dramatic :)

    micheles last blog post: Meet my Chairy XVI Hope You Like It :)

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  22. NancyV908 commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:52pm

    Thanks, Holly, & of course thanks to Erin–I hope she’s reading this blog, because there are a lot more comments here than at Real Simple!

    Anyway, I think you are both spot-on. This is an issue I really need to deal with; I am horribly guilty of it & waste so much energy feeling upset about things that aren’t even important–& that I no doubt misinterpreted. And I remember this stuff forever! For instance, all day I have been grousing about a snippy email I received from someone at my daughter’s school when I raised a (valid) concern about something, but you know what? !) Who cares? and 2) maybe she didn’t mean to be rude; that’s just how I’m reading it. And I definitely think Thorsten is right–this is much more of a “girl thing.” But really, I need to let go, & it’s helpful to think of it in Erin’s terms–that I am often upset about something that wasn’t even there.

    Holly, I think a perfect example of this phenomenon from the blogoshpere was when you posted a list of your favorite blogs & people were offended! Not only did they FEEL offended, they told you–& you actually posted an apology! I remember being so furious on your behalf. But this idea that they were being hurt by not being on your list seems to fit the pattern.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads-up about this–it is really helpful. Just one more reason I love decor8!

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  23. Zee commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:52pm

    Here I go…I think, my opinion is that insecurity, low self- steem can trigger assumptions. Assumptions can damage relashionships, friendships and make us feel like a fool. It happened to me mostly when I was a teen and tween. Relashionships ended because I was often offended. One thing I’ve learned not long ago: Not everyone will fit. Not everyone will love us or like us or link to us, talk to us…They don’t have to. Doesn’t matter how nice I am, doesn’t matter how generous I am or how sweet person I can be. I filter doing my part and loving myself as much as I can. I try to reach people, I do my best to be a good pal, but if I don’t get anything in change, today I prefer to move on and let it be, let it go. It hurts sometimes. We don’t like to be left out. In blogland or in life, at school, at work…In the beggining of this year, I started to feel depressed because I am from Brazil and till then, I did not get to make friends around here. I’ve invited neighbours to visit, I’ve called them, I’ve knock on doors and nothing. I’ve made assumptions and I still wonder, but I would never attack them for not being my friends. Whatever is the reason, I don’t think I should be rude to them just because they don’t visit or conect with me. My husband has been my greatest friend and very supportive. It’s difficult sometimes and I totally get this post.
    When I started blogging I would get upset a lot. I would say hello for so many people and no answer. I would get mad because linking thing, the commenting thing…I also had people upset with me because I would not link to them, etc.. .
    To avoid negativity and low self-steem I think about my children that every day say “I love you mom” and that’s rewarding and make me feel so important. We should not give too much importance to people that don’t look at us or do not include us. And I think we should never get mad at them at all. Love yourself, love your family and be happy.
    Hugs,

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  24. susi commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:57pm

    Assumptions.. I used to attribute it to sixth sense, and sometimes even secretly felt good about being so “intuitive” and “sensitive” to different situations. (read: paranoid!) My boyfriend is the least judgmental person I know, so he keeps my head in place. He always offers more positive or neutral suggestions to replace my ‘assumptions’. It is such a refreshing attitude, so surrounding yourself with positive people definitely helps.

    On the other hand, I live with someone whose mind is dominated by negative assumptions towards everyone, including myself. She always believes that people are being mean to her. When I take my bf’s approach and suggest something more positive, she gets upset and says I make her feel bad. I deeply care about her but I’m tired of always watching what I say even when I mean well. She also lacks patience, and and isn’t willing to discuss personal growth, or healthier outlooks on life.

    So looking at this from a different point of view — how do you help someone (not just yourself) whose assumptions clutter their lives, as well as your own?

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  25. Katrina Lynn commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:10pm

    Hi Holly,
    This is a very interesting a personal topic indeed. I recently came to the conclusion that “assuming” is one of my greatest downfalls. In the end, my assumptions are usually wrong, and I end up with my feelings hurt, or putting someone else in an awkward position. I’ve managed to recognize my behavior and put two key strategies to work…..(especially when dealing with men!…and for me, that specifically means my boyfriend.)

    #1 is be honest and always ask if you are unsure of a situation.
    For example, if my bf is telling me about an event or party he is going to. Previously, I’ve gotten in trouble many a time assuming that I would be attending with him, whether it be a work or personal event. Now, I always ask if he is telling me just as an FYI, or if he is telling because I need to mark my calendar. Asking flat out just saves so much time and worry. Sometimes with friends this can be awkward, but never nearly as awkward as when you call the night of the event and wonder what time they are picking you up, only to find out they were never planning on you.

    #2 is to always have a Plan B!
    Life is just life, and even when we make arrangements to not assume anything, often things can take a different turn. It?s not your fault, its not the other person’s fault. However, so you don’t end up at home sitting on your sofa, all dressed up with nowhere to go…. always be prepared to either use a lifeline and phone a friend to meet you for a drink, or to wash off that make up and curl up with a good book. The trick is to always be OK with turning to Plan B if things don?t work out in your favor.

    I’ve since tried to follow the mantra of “always assume you are wrong when you assume before asking”. As well as, “$h!t happens, life happens, don’t assume other will make you happy, take charge!” lol. It’s kept me out of a lot of trouble and I feel like I’m mentally and emotionally more prepared.

    Great topic.
    xo, Katrina

    Katrina Lynns last blog post: A Question of LOVE

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  26. Jeannine commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:11pm

    I think this feeling of left-outedness is one all bloggers (at one time or another) experience, but nobody talks about it. Let’s face it, it’s really intimidating to put something out there and hear … nothing.

    I’m a pretty sensitive gal, but I’ve been able to recalibrate my assumptions and expectations for my blog (and in other areas of my life too). I guess this IS an assumption, but it’s an assumption with a twist: no matter what IT is, IT is almost never about me. I think this is true for everyone 98% of the time. Usually if I’m feeling overlooked or left out, just remembering this snaps me out of it.

    Again, relating to blogs in particular, I’ve found that if I’m just true to my self and my voice and what I feel like sharing, if I just let go of expectation, I’m blissfully happy, even if the response is crickets. Sure I like the connection and interaction that blogging brings, but at the end of the day, I blog because I love doing it, even if no one else notices. This kind of thinking is actually very freeing. And of course, these insights apply to other situations outside of blogging, as well.

    Thanks for sharing! Good stuff!

    :)

    Jeannines last blog post: Etsy Treasury

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  27. Shashi commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:16pm

    anna, as someone who goes to your site obsessively, I was totally surprised by your post. I see loads of people commenting on your posts and it seems like a real community on your blog. I would never guess that you always felt left out. My assumptions rearing their head I guess!

    Great post Holly, I battle with making assumptions all the time, as a manager at work, as a friend, people on the street. Sometimes it’s ingrained in who we are, sometimes its a defense mechanism. I try to walk myself through it….and allow myself to feel the emotion associated with it, there’s no use in trying to shove it under the rug. Feel it, talk about it (with yourself or someone else) and then move on.

    Shashis last blog post: Inspiring necklaces

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  28. Rita Vindedzis commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:34pm

    You are so right about women being easily offended, feeling excluded, left out, dissed. It is such a girl thing. This sort of thing used to bother me more when I was a lot younger and it happened to me. It doesn’t affect me so much now that I’m older, or perhaps I just get over it a lot faster and move on. So I was advised earlier this year to start a blog and an online shop (etsy) and generally get myself out there with on-line networking as this would be a good move for my art career. There are so many wonderfully beautiful and creative blogs to link up to, to create traffic and readers for my own blog. Now maybe I’m a bit “old school” here but I always thought it’s polite to ask someone first before adding a link-so I email and ask. It feels so “high school” sometimes and it would be so easy to feel hurt or feel bad if I don’t get a reply or a negative answer but I just tell myself it’s not personal, it’s business. It does feel like a popularity contest here in “blogland” sometimes and I remind myself that I’m still very new to all this. It will come and if it doesn’t then that’s ok too. I’ll still be me and do what I do.

    Rita Vindedziss last blog post: Soar

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  29. Kim commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:36pm

    A couple of things–

    First, I like what Cindy K said about assuming people are coming from a positive place. Even if they aren’t, when you assume they are, and treat them like they are, sometimes they start to feel more positive as a result.

    Also, as women, I think it would help if, in addition to not making assumptions, we don’t expect other people to guess our thoughts and feelings. I think, when I make assumptions, it’s partly because I grew up in a household of women that never told you what they were thinking or feeling outright–you were just expected to know (if you cared, if you were really paying attention, you would know…). So I sometimes look for hidden meaning. OK, I do a LOT.

    But I have found that, at least with men, there usually isn’t any hidden meaning. My husband tells me I make him much more complex than he is.

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  30. sly_fox commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:43pm

    As with Holly’s example (locating the right people for a tv show) I agree it is important to be properly credited for work we have done – and there’s a dimension on hurt when we are not. And IMHO, it is boorish, unprofessional and dishonest to hijack someone else’s work or to withhold/conceal a credit where it is due. And that kind of behavior at work can actually damage reputations and make you seem less a real contributor than you are, so you should take it seriously.

    But it can also be laziness, distraction, or woeful inattention to details – in which case, presumptive hurt or anger is misplaced, and a waste of our own energy. In these situations “be wise as a serpent and peaceful as a dove.” I find that if I become emotional (assuming) rather than neutral/evaluative, I communicate like a finger-pointer rather than a problem solver, and this posture doesn’t serve me.

    So I strive for neutrality, and address these situations by being very matter of fact and practical.

    Recently I found a small article on the internet that I had written. It had originally appeared on a friend’s business site, with my permission. A small online journal had asked her if they could use it and she consented.
    However, they failed to credit me as the original author, and the writer’s blurb was a mini-advert for my friend. It was a little thing, probably caused by inattention to detail, but it bugged me – I wanted my credit ! (do I sound infantile yet ? ) I observed my emotional reaction and I realized had to keep that energy out of my communication with the editor of the online journal, to be pro-active but not defensive. I wrote a brief, courteous email (minus prickliness) and the editor responded immediately in kind.

    I learned the hard way to assert myself properly and that it is OK to claim my work when I designed a rockin’ graphic identity for a spiritual healer’s print ads and revamped website. She credited her marketing person and gave a link to his site. His contribution to creating her new graphic identity was to scan/cut/paste my original hand-drawn artwork. I lacked the courage to say ” that’s MY art presencing your work and visually capturing the essence of what you do, and I would simply like acknowldgement as the originator.” And so I remain un-credited because I lacked courage, and because I was kind of stunned that I’d have to explain integrity to a spiritual healer.

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  31. eastofweston commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 5:58pm

    Never assume malice until incompetance has been completely ruled out.

    That gets me through most things, along with – Just because things aren’t going the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they aren’t going exactly how God has them planned. I take this to mean that I don’t know the whole picture of anything.

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  32. Terri commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 6:00pm

    Hi Holly – I have been away from your blog for a while, so funny that you should post this just when I am returning because I’ve been noticing the same sort of thing. I don’t notice it so much in the blog world, because I simply don’t spend much time here anymore and simply can’t compete! I am happy in blog land to write my little blog and have my readers and mostly find them supportive – I am not “out there” and immersed like you are.

    But I notice it in the “real world”. Maybe a year or two ago, I finally decided to stop doing things just to make other people happy. For example, many of my colleagues are political and sports junkies (mostly men, engineers, etc) and I always tried to be broadly read so that I could talk to them. Then I finally decided “screw it”, I am just going to read the things I love. I am an avid reader of literature, novels, contemporary canadian lit, but they never talk about that. They never talk about decorating either. Any time I mention it, they roll their eyes like I am some dumb blonde and one even commented “I leave that shit to my wife”. Now, I work in a male, technical world, and I can’t expect them to appreciate little old me, who likes to read and make things pretty and daydream and deep think and whatnot. I run deep, but I find that many of them don’t get my subtlety. It is hard to “be myself” in that environment. Everything I am is trite to them and “some chick thing”. It would be nice to switch environments, to be in a more nurturing one. I always thought the secret would be working with women, but I understand that they can be competitive, which is probably worse. It is easier to be ignored and excluded than having to compete on looks and who has nicer clothes and a richer husband and smarter kids and all that crap.

    So I am constantly excluded and feel judged (as the “girl”) but I am working hard to not feel bad about it. I am trying to just be myself. But when you are a sensitive person, you do absorb everyone’s mood and vibe.

    I think the most important gift is to know who you are and what you like, and find a community to share it. For me, it is strictly blogs. I hardly know anyone in the real world who even knows about my blog, who I even want to share that side of myself with. My colleagues would be shocked to know I can write, that I have tastes, and that I have opinions. But they would never honor the subject matter.

    So I will go along being excluded in the real world. And live in my head and in my heart. But it is a lonely path! And I often wish I could have a big date and meet all my blogging friends, who “get me”.

    I don’t know if that answered your post (I probably read too much into it!), but thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are a lovely writer and a deep thinker and even when you write about “just pretty things”, I can see a very smart and wise and caring woman between the lines. : )

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  33. Ali commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 6:18pm

    Oh you’re talking to me! I suffer badly from the ‘left outies’ but have learned that flare ups usually co-incide with PMT.

    For a few days each month, I am convinced that all my friends have stopped liking me and everyone is talking behind my back. Then mystically, the feelings go away.

    The main trick is not to act on them when I’m feeling all vunerable and emotional. And to remember that usually folks are too busy worrying about themselves to put energy into excluding you.

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  34. adrienne commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 6:33pm

    Hi Holly,
    Thanks for posting this article. I think feeling “left out” is really common in the blog world and in real life. Alot of it has to do with how you show up in the world and what past stuff still runs your life today. My husband recently lost his job and my business as an illustrator has slowed down. My friends haven’t really been there for us and I have been feeling, hurt and confused. I go up and down with feelings of being left out but I have to remember that everyone is stressed and going through their shit too. Not taking it personally is really hard but its important stay independent of peoples behaviors. If my friends really do suck, I will find that out when the dust settles. And even then, its whats right for them not for me. You do the best you can in life and its up to you to give energy to feeling “left out” or giving energy to “being included”.

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  35. Kate F. commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 6:37pm

    I loved that post yesterday, and sent it to a few friends…

    I hadn’t specifically tried to stop making assumptions before reading that, but the last few months I have been working really hard on concentrating on the positive, which I think is a broader version of the same thing. I was working in a job that bored and depressed me, living in a city we didn’t really choose, missing my friends and feeling disconnected. Over the summer my husband and I made a pledge to each other that we would start responding happily when people asked us how it was going here, instead of listing all the ways it’s not NYC. That worked really well, so I started trying to apply it to my job, as well–say a bunch of positive things instead of all the negatives. Well, I got laid off two weeks ago. But I feel pretty good about it, because I had made peace with the job and was able to leave knowing that I had done all that I could and had nothing to be ashamed of. If the lay-offs had been while I was still being so negative, I would have felt that it was more performance-based, despite being told it wasn’t. And now I am back to my prior, much-missed career, journalism, and am happily freelancing from home and feeling so much better about life.

    Anyway, I really am coming around to the hokey old “positive thinking” thing, and I want to work harder now on the assumptions bit. I loved Erin’s simplest advice–ask questions. Find out what’s really going on. Life is too short for sulking.

    And Anna, I too was shocked to read what you wrote–I always read your blog thinking “Man, she is SO COOL, I bet if we ever met she’d think I was such a square.” And then I think “did I really just use the phrase “square”?” and then I try to stop talking to myself. ;-) Anyway, an interesting live example of how we all make assumptions, even if they aren’t the hurt feelings kind.

    Kate F.s last blog post: CSA: Week 18, Carrot pants

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  36. 315thomas commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 6:43pm

    thank you for posting this… i think we all deal with this type of thing from time to time. it is easy to let small things get you down, but keeping your thoughts positive even when you feel left out really does help!

    315thomass last blog post: in search of the perfect tea cup

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  37. naomi commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 7:38pm

    For sure, we females tend to be overly sensitive and internalize things. I think that those qualities really make us so unique and special, I wouldn’t change that about any woman I know but all things need balance.
    Personally I need to daily work on training myself to hold my tongue and take a breather before I speak. To respond rather than react. To really listen.

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  38. Jersey Girl in DC commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 7:54pm

    As Terri wrote about her experience working with engineers, I often experience the same as a female non-architect working with a group of mostly male architects. They always seem to think that “they’re” the creative ones – I must not be, I guess since I didn’t go to architecture school. They also often treat me like I’m an idiot when there’s a building or a famous architect that I’m not familiar with. I often feel left out as the one in the office who doesn’t get crazy excited about something architect-related.

    I have a passion for photography and when I offered to take some photos of a recently completed project for our portfolio, they instead went to an architect here to ask him to take the photos, told me no that they wanted him to take them, and then later changed their minds and told me that it’d be okay for me to tag along with this architect when he went to take the photos (they assumed I had no artistic ability and gave me the third degree… ‘well, what type of camera do you have… ”he” has such-and-such a camera’). Turns out that this architect didn’t really know how to work his fancy, expensive camera and all of his pic’s turned out way too dark and fuzzy. So far, one of the photos I snapped has been published on our client’s blog, is going to be published in the AIA magazine here in DC, and a variety of my photos have been used for our award submissions for this project. It felt good to show them that their assumption was wrong and I can take some decent photos, despite the fact that I’m not an architect.

    I was later questioned as to whether all the photo credits should be given to the firm, as opposed to myself and a professional photographer whose photos we’ve been using. I spoke up and said that I would like credit for my photography. Since they didn’t even think I could take the photos in the first place, it means even more now to receive credit for this work. So far they’ve given me the credit and I hope it stays that way.

    Jersey Girl in DCs last blog post: ACCESSORIES: Hot Pink!

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  39. mas commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 8:02pm

    Anna @ D16: I felt sad reading your post, because it sounds very lonely. Or maybe that’s just my assumption :)

    But seriously, I have felt like that in the past. I also wondered what it was about ME that others didn’t like, and I obsessed over what I said and how I looked or acted. I avoided joining conversations in fear that I would say the wrong thing. Somehow I realized I really needed to be happy with myself, and started doing things that made me feel good. Being proactively nice to others was one of those things. I didn’t hold back on complimenting people when I genuinely liked something about them, I’d bring treats to share, and most importantly, was OK with the fact that I would not be ‘likeable’ to every single person I interacted with. That was all it took, and after a while I felt incredibly happy (and stopped wondering what others thought of me)! And you know what? Humans enjoy being around happy people so I broke that vicious cycle. Now I have less reasons to make those ‘poisoning’ assumptions. :)

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  40. MaryBeth commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 8:16pm

    I really appreciate your ability to be such a wonderful Kaleidoscope of designer, wife, business women, friend , writer and HUMAN BEING.
    I recall 4 years ago as a brand new “Clueless Blogger” I left an invite to my blog on another popular blogs comments. I received a harsh, high school like, reprimand from another blogger about how “uncool” it is to do that.
    I was hurt, angry, embarrassed etc and wrote back immediately.
    Months later ,after learning much more about the blog world,- I laughed at how much I allowed one persons opinion to affect my own personal creative experience.
    As with all things in life, it is our call to be original and authentic-embracing that in ourselves and in others.
    I never discourage a person from being sensitive; however I do caution friends to allow anyone?s words-particularly negative or hurtful to have any power over them.
    Words typed in this context speak volumes about the author and very often have little or nothing to do with the recipient of them.
    I would say the virtual world this truth is even more so, as anyone can leave any comment without ever being seen.
    I admire and appreciate the way you Holly , chose to embrace and celebrate whatever and whomever you are writing about.
    The amount of daily readers you have is a beautiful reflection of You and of the fact that so many people chose your approach over so others that are out there in the ever growing blog world.

    MaryBeths last blog post: We are all part of the whole

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  41. Sara commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 8:35pm

    Wow, Holly, and everyone, thank you so much for this. I struggle with isolation and hence assumptions and discomfort at work – I work very, very hard but it’s different from what everyone else does so there’s an inherent closeness gap. I have tried to share and in the beginning tried to be communicative, but they all have so much to do, and I have so much to do, there just hasn’t been much connection. So I often wonder what they think of me and if I am even appreciated or liked. I feel like somehow it is my fault. It’s first grade all over again – feeling left out, excluded, unwanted, misunderstood and probably making things worse through assumptions. :) Your post makes me feel so much better. Thanks Holly for sharing Erin’s post!

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  42. leah commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 8:45pm

    i enjoyed this post. it’s timely for me as well. i have definitely been guilty of making assumptions (usually negative), but i am learning (through awareness and practice) to not jump to conclusions. sometimes it can be easier to take things the wrong way online, when we are relying on the written word and have no tone of voice to make things clearer.

    remembering that it’s not about me and learning to not take things personally has been hugely helpful in this. reading byron katie’s “loving what is” has also been helpful too.

    leahs last blog post: A Work In Progress – At Sea

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  43. Charlie commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 9:53pm

    Oh Holly – what a perfect post and comments- today of all days.

    Charlies last blog post: Heads Up Angelenos

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  44. Melissa de la Fuente commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 9:56pm

    Oh, for sure, for sure! It is so easy to get caught up in that….because we care and are sensitive. I guess, I often tell myself…”it’s not about you ,Melissa” and ” you have NO way of knowing what is going on with that person exactly” So, that always helps me! Then I just assume if there really is a problem or an issue, someone will let me know. I hope! :) It sucks feeling left out or underappreciated but, then it always seems that there always IS someone out there appreciating us just, not everyone ALL the time! Right? :) Great topic sweetie and so very perceptive of you and Erin…:)
    xo
    Melis

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  45. Jana Souza commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 9:59pm

    This is such a great post and I read all of the comments with great appreciation. Holly, I appreciate your honesty—I haven’t read the other post, but will, i just had to go into the comments because this strikes such a cord; I am so apt to feel afraid of backlash—I have had a blog framework prepared for me by a creative wonderful, graphic designer, and have yet to start blogging for primarily this reason; I also have a new design studio that I have yet to officially open because of this (and a few other reasons like no sign and no interior doors—restroom that is).

    Thanks for all of the readers who chimed in and helped me realize I am not alone, nor am I the center of anyone’s universe—well, except my two babies for a few minutes here and there, which too shall pass.

    with warmth, jana

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  46. Jill commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:06pm

    ASSUME = makes an ASS out of U and ME….I try to remember this before I get upset about something small and petty!

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  47. Lisa commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:19pm

    I think it’s great to actually talk about this feeling of exclusion. Sometimes it’s assumption and sometimes it’s real, that people just aren’t respecting you or valuing you and it’s good to bounce things off other people to gain perspective. I think we need to remember that we all have something to offer, and sometimes it’s better to focus on things that make us feel valued rather than give in to the temptation to dwell on things that make us feel terrible. Easy to say, hard to do.

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  48. gayla commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:31pm

    I really don’t ever feel this way. I did as a child, but not as an adult. I’m one of those “quirky alones” (check out the book). I love the exclusive club that is me and don’t feel left out of other “clubs”. I always feel like I fit in most of the time and if I don’t, oh well. I’m either mentally healthy or completely fooling myself.

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  49. May commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:45pm

    I come from a family of people who assume and its really hard to break that habit. When things get really bad and I’m making myself crazy because I am assuming something will turn out a certain way (like today as a matter of fact) I find it helpful to sternly remind myself that 1) I don’t own the truth 2) I really don’t know what is going to happen and 3) whatever happens isn’t always going to be bad. It’s okay to be afraid and unsure but don’t let it stop you from doing what makes you happy inside.

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  50. moodboard commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:49pm

    For me, it is disappointing when I find someone online that I think has an aesthetic that runs parallel to mine, and I get all excited and ask them if they want to exchange links. And then you never hear back from them.

    I always assume they think my blog isn’t their cup of tea, when in reality it could be they never got the email or they were so busy that it got pushed aside and forgotten.

    So in turn since I hate to leave anyone out when it comes to blogging, if someone contacts me and says they want to switch links I just automatically add them to my site.

    I don’t always have a chance to look over their blogs before I add them so I probably have links to satan worshippers under my blogroll. I’ll apologize now for that for those that do read my blog.

    moodboards last blog post: Anthropologie Catalog September 2008: So I Found the Box

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  51. Tina commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:58pm

    Hi Holly!
    Outstanding discussion!
    This really could be a weekly thing! (like you aren’t busy~right!)
    Tif~
    chin up! It sounds as if you were following your instinct. If you felt your assumptions in your chest~then I believe they were knowns (picking up subconsious clues/signals from your boyfriend)rather than assumptions.
    I think as women we also get this feeling in the pit of our stomach or heart~and this isn’t to be confused with an assumption.

    Holly~am I making sense?
    I see assumptions as being (and I am so guilty of this as a female!) a symptom of lower self esteem, not feeling a-part-of, and sometimes even lack of enough sleep. The latter makes us over-sensitive.

    And instincts,the feelings we need to pay attention to, as being that sock in the torso that you cannot shake.
    Anyway back to assumptions~

    In the real world, it’s easy to start ruminating when we start a new job,move to a new neighborhood and we so want approval. As social creatures we all just want to be liked and included. It’s our nature.
    Add that to lower self esteem and insecurity and our own individual history~we can assume there will be alot of assumptions!
    Not helping~but hang on~
    self talk and affirmations can help bring us to center again.
    But be sure to say them in the present tense.
    I find this effective because my single assumption will become a whirling dervish …then I’ll start obsessing. Then every little thing is about not being
    “——- enough.”
    The other thing that I try to remember also, is that it isn’t always about me. I maybe I am being self absorbed.
    There are so many other things that others can talk about and here I am thinking it’s about me.

    That puts me in my rightful place in the Universe!

    In the blog world, yes I have seen the cliques. Atfirst I just read a few blogs and I thought “Oh here we go…High school 101″ and it made me wonder why I was here. But then I decided to check out other peoples bloglists and then the bloglists on those blogs…ad infinitum. This way, I am able to see the world through so many eyes and lives. And it’s been such an adventure!
    I want to visit as many of you as I can because you teach me things.
    Just like today~
    I have learned from your posting ~Holly thanks~and all of the great comments.
    Tina

    Tinas last blog post: ~ Crazy (Paper) Cat Lady~

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  52. Jamie Watson commented
    November 12th, 2008 at 11:31pm

    Hi everyone. I have this post-it note on my monitor and it is the Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. http://www.miguelruiz.com/fouragreements.html

    Remember that book? Anyway, when I glance at these simple agreements, I instantly feel at peace.

    1. Be impeccable with your word
    2. Don’t take anything personally
    3. Don’t make assumptions
    4. Always do your best

    xo jw

    Jamie Watsons last blog post: SK8 ninja

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  53. trina commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 12:27am

    Great post. One thing I have learned in life is that when you are hurt or offended “by someone else”, the 1st thing to do is usually not to go and confront, but to ask yourself, seriously, and honestly, “What exactly about the situation rubbed me the wrong way?”, “Am i offended because something was done/said wrong or because someone did/said something in a way I wouldn’t?”, “From what i know about this person, would they intentionally hurt me?”, “does it really matter that I have a different opinion or am I just feeling left on the outside and threatened by a different way of thinking?” I have found that taking that bit of time and honestly looking at your self, most of the time conflict dissipates, and you learn a lot about your self and your own filters and assumptions.

    trinas last blog post: Uh, oh…

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  54. Cynthia commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 12:54am

    What an interesting discussion. We all are guilty of this, some more than others; the way I deal with it is by having an answer to every argument, including my own – I play the part of a lawyer for the defense and a lawyer for the prosecution. You have to see both sides, assume the best scenario and keep in mind that not everything is about you. Hate to use this phrase, but, here it goes……..don’t sweat the small stuff! ask yourself, how does this situation affect me? Do I feel good? if not, then drop it!! Frankly, we are in charge of how we feel about things and although it’s difficult sometimes, we have the power to ignore things. For the last year I’ve been weeding out toxic friendships, negative people, ignoring snide remarks or addressing difficult situations head on. I’m a work in progress, but ever since I stopped assuming the worse, life has gotten simpler, better. One example of how wrong assumptions can be sometimes: My boss sent me an e-mail suggesting I take a specific Friday off and I took it the wrong way; I was all upset thinking, who is she to suggest specific dates for me to take? Doesn’t she know by now that I don’t like to use up my precious vacation days to just hang at home? I need to plan vacations and go places!! As I mentioned it to a friend, she pointed out that maybe my boss just wanted me to take advantage of the holiday (which I had not even notice was coming up because I was so busy) and just wanted me to make it a four day weekend so that I could rest; and right then I realized that she was right, my boss was just worried about how hard I was working without rest and I took it all the wrong way, which had kept me in a bad mood for a whole day….in the end, for no reason at all! This could have been disastrous, but you know what saved me? that I’m not reactionary – I wait until I think things through, and am calm before I act on anything. That’s my saving grace – I know we all have grown up hearing “never go to bed angry” but sometimes, it’s better to let one day go by so that the anger dissipates and you can see things clearly.

    That’s my two cents – take control of your life (may I recommend Michael Neill? You can hear him at the Hays House Radio website on Thursday’s at noon (PST) – ever since I started listening to him things have gotten calmer, better. Still, a work in progress.

    Cynthias last blog post: Excellent Adventure

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  55. kristen commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 1:46am

    i think we all tend to re-create our family dynamic out in the world. once i realized this, i could actually identify why specific things people did made me feel a specific way. getting older helps as well because, if you’re lucky, you naturally start to care less about what other people think and become more aware of what makes you happy.

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  56. Tatiana commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 5:30am

    I am by nature a negative person…yes, the world is always out to get me. The good news is that I’ve come to recognize this quality about myself and can take a step back.

    Things I am coming to terms with:
    -Unfortunately, not everything is about me.
    -I can be ridiculous.
    -I can only do so much.
    -If I can’t make the rules, I sure can bend them.
    -Everyone is different.
    -Most gossip is lame and not worth knowing.

    I do find comfort in:
    -Having great friends I can laugh (at myself) with.
    -And knowing I AM THE ONLY PERSON I NEED TO WORRY ABOUT.
    Good Luck to you all!

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  57. Coco commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 5:32am

    I’m housewife and 23 years old. I have two daugthers, my oldest is 3 years old and the youngest is just 7 months old. The first thing my brother said when I said I was pregnant for the first time he asked me: are you going to work? You’re not going to stare at your belly for nine months right?
    I often feel judged about being a houswife and spending as much time I can with my children… A lot of people don’t get it and are mispriced about my doing.
    I’ve never felt the urge to explain myself to oher people though I do feel misjudged by a lot of them. And while I’m typing this I feel the same way… you work and you choice to get children later and first built up a life… a lot of people do that and getting children looks like second place (I’m not refrerring to any feeling you feel, don’t get me wrong I only see it a lot around me and not many people understand at all why I’ve children at my age!). I don’t think I’m in the position to tell them how great children are and when you get children all the rest of ‘it’ (the world, career, travelling) seems least important than you thought it was. To me, the world are my children and i want to let them see the world more than I need to see the world right now. I want to give them a happy place, home, feeling. But how can I ever explain that to those who judge me for not working? Not building up a career, not going to school? I simply cant because they don’t see how I see it, and that’s fine. Just as I must learn to understand them and their choices I expect of them they respect me and my choices. But I do often feel they don’t respect it at all nor try to understand me. And th?t is what bothers me, and sometimes makes me feel like a loser, insecure… It makes me wonder if my life, that I choose, is of any use. I know deep in my heart I made the right choice, but I still feel like an infant sometime and a lot of people can make me feel bad about myself just by judging my life.

    One friend of mine whom to I was very close to befor i had any children said to me and my boyfriend when we came back from a vacation to Iceland (with our oldest daugther back then): “you’ve grown, you two, i can see it in the pictures.” I was confused by that. We grow because we travel? You must know that he travels the world, he works in different countries so he is used to go to other places and see different things. So I can totally imagine that in his eyes we never were growing while we were sitting back in the Netherlands, our safe harbor. I can imagine how he saw we were growing while we were travelling in Iceland. I can explain how he sees that because he reflects his own experience to ours. He can’t reflect our experience of getting to be a parent, so how can he see we have grown into that? How we are still growing everyday while our daugthers grow up to adults… But his saying that we grow because of our vacation did hurt, maybe the most because he was such a good friend to me and maybe because I judge his judgement highly and didn’t understand at first what I meant (or actually what he did NOT meant: we weren’t growing while we stayed with our buts in the Netherlands). It hurt because our lifes became so differintly so suddenly… it hurts because I’m afraid he still thinks this way and a lot of other people do who say to me that they don’t want children because they want to travel the world or built up a career. Thats fine, but i hope they understand my choice, I hope they one day can see I also grow in this life. I do not stand still. I grow everyday with my two beautiful children.

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  58. Gizel commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 7:57am

    It’s about us. It’s about how we feel, not about how other “makes us feel”. The misinterpretations of others words and actions come from our own distorted way of looking at things. Most of the time people are not doint “that” to you on purpose.
    When we’re more positive about how we perceive ourselves and our decisions and stand 100% behind the way we live our lives we don’t feel “left out” or “victims of injustice” so often.
    Of course, it’s easily said than done, I know. Why don’t we learn how to feel good about ourselves instead of blaming people for making us “feel bad”, making us “feel small”.
    We emotionally invest in relationships, work on communications skills to improve office relations but don’t really nurture our self-assurance.
    And this is not egoistic, no! If you fell good about yourself it shows, people like you better when you walk tall, you irradiate positivity, people like to be around you. Also when you take care of yourself you have more energy to take care of others. You can’t give what you don’t have.
    It’s cliche and may sound like “self-help book” sentence but it’s so true and not that easy to put in practice. :)

    Gizels last blog post: no blog no fun

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  59. Plum commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 10:21am

    I think the shoe is on the other foot with me. I can’t seem to read between the lines very clearly. I can’t tell when I friend is subtly asking me to mind her son or why my husband is angry with me. He, on the other hand seems to be a master of reading between the lines incorrectly and it has led to many disputes.

    2 things bother me in “blogland” when it comes to commenting.

    1. There is one blog in particular where if you differ from the mainstream, you are labelled by others as a “hater”. That is such a strong word and it effectively shuts down all debate. I understand using the word “hater” in this way is gaining popularity. But I wish it would stop.

    2. On many women’s lifestyle-type blogs, all the comments are positive, as if it were a positive re-inforcement party. I don’t really get this. It’s as if we aren’t allowed an opinion.

    Plums last blog post:

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  60. Cynthia commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 12:48pm

    So, based on the picture of the monkeys above, should I assume that:

    1. The “redhead” should be happy to have such a boyfriend who will love her regardless of the excess make-up and the bad hair colouring job.

    2. The “redhead” has resigned herself to the fact that the pesty “brunette” will not leave her alone, much like Pepe Le Pew, hence the look on her face.

    Or maybe my assumptions are all wrong and they really, really like each other’s company; or like Anna said, why do you hate monkeys, Holly?

    Cynthias last blog post: Excellent Adventure

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  61. decor8 commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 1:03pm

    Anna and Cynthia – you have me ROLLING on the floor.

    I do not hate monkeys. :) he he. ;) But sometimes I think we all have a few on our backs in the form of ‘nagging voices’, habits we cannot seem to overcome, and oh… assumptions. I felt a monkey photo was a bit of a play on all of this.

    But I also was touched by their companionship, it’s sweet you know. Completely accepting despite the bad makeup and hair color. I seriously think she should file a claim against the zoo salon.

    Holly

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  62. Ellen Crimi-Trent commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 1:26pm

    wow nice post Holly, for me I can honestly say that I agree with Plum about blogland and its assumptions it makes whereas you must be agreeable to be included. Its crazy for me to think everyone loves my stuff or me for that matter and I would never assume so.

    I have never been one who needs a pat on the back or to fit in, I come from a place where what matters most is my beliefs and my family and I do not need anyones approval. I get soo frustrated when people cannot handle comments on blogs that do not agree with them. Hey don’t get me wrong I love nice comments but I love when people can give their voice too, its so much better and real.

    This post is so funny because when I spoke about being real in my blog a couple of weeks ago, people totally read between the lines and did not get what I was saying. Its like the game telephone only worse! I guess you have to expect when you put something out there you are going to get a whole bunch of interpretations.

    Love this discussion and I love reading all the comments!

    Ellen Crimi-Trents last blog post: New Print

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  63. Melissa commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 1:32pm

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was to remember that when anyone says something to you, to listen to it and realize that you are learning something about them. They may be critical of you, but it is their view of reality. It is up to each of us to decide whether or not to let those words or actions enter our emotional boundaries. I think of myself as having a protective bubble around me, so I decide what I let in. It doesn’t always work, but at least it is something to try so that I don’t let feelings of inadequacy weigh me down.

    Melissas last blog post: Painting Pumpkins

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  64. Francine commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 1:47pm

    I’m basically repeating what I said over at Real Simple :) Have you ever read the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? Two of the agreements he suggests you make with yourself are 1. Don’t make assumptions, and 2. Don’t take anything personally. Erin’s post immediately reminded me of this. I need to try harder to keep those agreements!

    Francines last blog post: Making a list, checking it twice.

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  65. sonya rasi commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 3:07pm

    When I’m troubled about what people think my fiance tells me:

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds” Bob Marley
    Wakes me up right away

    sonya rasis last blog post: Forest Triangle Earrings

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  66. Katrina commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 3:11pm

    Wow, this is a great post. Holly – I love your blog! I love how you throw in these philosophical discussion amongst all the fun design ones. I am hooked! I find I identify with a lot of the posts here, specifically Anna. I know exactly how you feel Anna – have felt this way my whole life too. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to terms with who I am and can deal better. I still feel insecure and not confident inside and really struggle with this. I’ve been wondering how to fix that about myself – I am 36 years old and need to grow up and be a confident adult! I am a work in progress and have made a lot of progress in my life, but still have a lot to learn too. I have tried to stop being the most negative person around. I am so much better at not sweating the small stuff. I think along the way I just decided to be a happier person and not let everything bug me so much. It is within my control only to change how I think, I can’t change anyone else. I know that it is my fault that I feel excluded in life. I have been through some difficult life things (divorce, infertility) and have come through it a stronger woman with better perspective. I still have a lot of “why me?” moments and I wish I knew how to deprogram the self loathing thoughts and be a little more outgoing. Seems to be a common theme with women I am learning. It’s nice to know I am not alone! Women are sensitive creatures apparently, who knew? ;) This was so cathartic to write! Thanks!

    Katrinas last blog post: 4 months old and YAY for Obama!!!

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  67. bussbuss commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 3:46pm

    omg holly, you’ve done it again. just when i’m feeling something in a major way, i click on over to decor8 and you have the best discussion on the topic (the last time it was about reaching out to others who may be feeling lonely – i ended up being really inspired by what you said, reached out right after i read your post and it changed a relationship in a big way for the positive, so a huge THANK YOU!)…

    anyway, i definitely agree that blogland feels like high school, so when you post something like this it makes me, and i know lots of others, feel a lot better. i made a lot of “mistakes” when first starting out with both blogging and designing. things i didn’t realize were big no-nos. so when someone makes the same mistake now as a new designer/blogger, i don’t get as miffed about it because i realize they’re probably just new to everything too. but i definitely struggle with trying not to take things personally, professionally and personally. this was a good reminder to keep working on it and that people aren’t normally trying to exclude you on purpose.

    on that same note, i can relate 1000% to your producer/not getting credit situation. essentially the same thing happened/happens to me with, i’m guessing, the same producer(s)/show. it’s not fair and you end up feeling used, but it’s probably out of the person’s control and something where you will get credit and it will benefit you down the road (i’m hoping!). but i think it’s great you stood up for yourself, as well. In a professional way, of course.

    thanks again for the post – again, it made my day!

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  68. Alicia commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 3:58pm

    This is a really great post. I tend to find people online to be very friendly and open. Though on some blogs, I find that there is an elite circle that is very hard to get into. I find that I see a lot of new products mentioned, which is great, so perhaps it is easier to find press from a business. But with blogs, I find the same ones are covered, and they all blog about each other, no? It is like high school, you can’t get the popular girls to talk to you!

    Alicias last blog post: mr. gorbachev, break up this wall!

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  69. eva commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 4:32pm

    This could be good subject for a novel,but I`m going to be short.

    I keep reminding myself that my inner world is like a beautiful garden. And I`m the guardian of it. So whenever something threatens to destroy it, I`ll stand up against it and say – this is my world and I`m keeping it beautiful!

    I teach myself to understand and love all people – especially these who are “bad” in most people views. We all need love, we all need understanding and accepting. Some of us more than others………….
    We are all one :)

    evas last blog post: new colors – new bunnies!

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  70. Janet commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 5:21pm

    In personal life, it’s the hardest but I’ve found that if I keep this mantra in mind at work, it filters out all kinds of garbage and makes me pause before assuming something has a second meaning OR letting other people’s attempts to make it personal pull me in to a place I don’t want to go: “It’s not personal; it’s business.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that to myself and to others at work…it really does help keep perspective and helps others keep perspective too.

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  71. gretchenmist/belinda commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 7:07pm

    great topic, thanks for brining it up here holly!
    i too am in the habit of making assumptions and they are always negative assumptions. i’ve recently tried to stop doing it, or at the least trying to think maybe it’s like that or MAYBE NOT!!! and actually pulling myself up and letting things be more ‘grey’ has shown that lots of times my assumptions were in fact wrong!
    i have been trying to actually ask the person in question about the situation ? not always possible due to not knowing people well enough ? and this has helped! it’s more reasonable for me to do this with closer people and more important! and it always helps take the next step {mostly for me it’s just to get over it etc}. even with worst case scenarios where my assumptions about what someone close to me is thinking about me turn out to be true, i now realise i can’t change that and sadly it’s best for me not to be ‘in’ with that person anyway! and also when people won’t come out with things for whatever reason, sometimes i think i just have to accept that i can never find out what’s truly going through the mind of the other person – in which case it comes back to not really being so close to them afterall!
    i guess it’s about just being around people i can be honest with thesedays and also about checking my own behaviour! the hardest part tho is trying to still go with your instincts and gut reactions but then not making assumptions!
    thanks for this discussion, it has been very interesting to hear what others think about this :)

    the ideal is to actually gently ask the other person, but you can’t always do this especially with people who are not close or other bloggers ? in which case, like others have said, it’s best to let it go~

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  72. Lynne commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 7:13pm

    Wow! A lot of people have thoughts on this.

    I think people expect women to be a little sensitive. But sometimes it can be quite tiring when you find a man who is always making assumptions! I have a male friend (not even a boyfriend) who just tires me out because every once in a while he will bring up something he has totally misinterpreted, in relation to something I may have said months ago. I am pretty sensitive, but also very honest. I keep telling him he should speak up at the time, rather than making these silent assumptions and have them affect our friendship.

    Anyway, I am so glad you started this discussion. Look at all of these people who have come out of the blogging shadows. x

    Lynnes last blog post: Great ornament exchange

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  73. S commented
    November 13th, 2008 at 10:49pm

    I’m totally dealing with the feeling of being excluded at work right now. My department is small and everyone who has the same job as me, is also female (3 girls)! To make it worse they are all in the 23-25 age range. In the past month- month and a half all the time they would go off together (grab a bite to eat, go somewhere in the office) and not ask me to come along. It sucks and it totally hurts my feelings. Two of them have started to come around and started including me again but one of them, for no apparent reason, is dead set on freezing me out. It’s really weird because she’s the meek one of the group. I haven’t spoken to her in person in a week and we sit just feet away. It’s especially sucky because I have no one else at work to discuss her rudeness with (gossip- let’s be honest). It does make me feel better that they don’t actually hang out together outside of work though. This high school mindset is so hard to get out of. I’m obviously guilty of it too. I’m actually currently looking for a new job (for a couple diff reasons but also for this reason).

    Ss last blog post: On the hunt for chic eyeglasses

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  74. Nicole RJ commented
    November 14th, 2008 at 10:15am

    A couple of commenters have brought up a situation I put up with at work for almost 4 years – it was a “small office” full of backstabbing, deciept and plenty of assuming going around. The best way to deal with it? Leave! I’m now making half of what I did there (thank goodness for a very supportive partner) running my own business and working part-time outside of the house, but I have never been happier – and I do a *lot* less assuming about what’s going on, who’s talking about who, etc. My home life and general outlook has improved by leaps and bounds all because I’m not in that toxic environment anymore, and I make a lot fewer negative assumptions now too!

    Nicole RJs last blog post: You’d Better Watch Out!

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  75. Sasha commented
    November 14th, 2008 at 10:19am

    “Would you not agree that we all spend wayyyy to much time, especially as women, getting offended easily by things we either read online or see in person? I don?t see nearly as many men running around feeling excluded so I think it tends to be more of a girl thing.”

    As far as being offended goes… I don’t feel that often. However, several forums that I like for other reasons are plagued with women (few guys there in general) being offended all the time. I don’t read those forums anymore.

    On the other hand, I get very easily hurt and depressed by minor things. It can be a bit silly. I think I am fairly smart about what I take seriously and what I don’t, though. (Well usually anyway.) For instance, recently I was shopping at a craft store, and felt snubbed over whether my project was ‘cool’ or not. I realized that it was possible I was reading too much into the exchange, and even if I wasn’t, it wasn’t a big deal. The next time I was in the shop I chatted up the lady who had perhaps snubbed me before, and we had an enjoyable and useful conversation.

    I don’t think men dwell on it as much as we do–but I have known men to be a trifle paranoid in their social dealings now and then, as well, reading ill will into thoughtlessness, etc.

    Sashas last blog post: The Broomcloset Revolution

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  76. JP commented
    November 15th, 2008 at 11:06am

    Thank you for the very interesting discussion. I don’t blog and generally don’t read comments sections so I don’t know about the high school nature of the blogging community, but I do have a VERY sensitive friend who fits these descriptions exactly! Life is really hard for her and I try to help her gain a broader perspective. Luckily she is aware of her disposition and really tries to overcome her hypersensitivity. I think this must be something you are born with as I am not this way at all. At all the various jobs I’ve ever held I’ve gotten along with everyone and generally enjoyed myself and had good opinions of my coworkers. I have been stunned to discover many times that coworkers are at odds with one another, often through making assumptions. It seems like there’s a whole other world out there that I don’t tap into! I was like this at school as well, remaining friends with everyone, even when my two best friends were fighting. And they accepted it, I wasn’t forced to choose sides. Maybe they could tell that I had no ill intentions and was trying to make peace, which did eventually happen. It’s tiring to be angry all the time! Anyway, these were useful posts to help me understand this other way of experiencing the world: thanks all!

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  77. Gilly commented
    November 15th, 2008 at 11:26am

    to use the famous words of Hannibal Lecter, and later Bart Simpson (hehe) ”to assume is to make an ASS out of U and ME, it’s so hard not to read into things and let the way our mind feels tint the way we think someone else is thinking. It is the problem that causes depression, the problem that makes us ill, the problem that causes arguments, it seems to be the root of everything -how we feel about ourselves and the world around us effects the way we think others feel and react to us, when in fact, we are the ones controlling it!
    It’s such an interesting thing to explore, positivity is really the best armour we have against everything.

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  78. sarah commented
    November 18th, 2008 at 7:44pm

    I believe I used to silently fall in this category of assumptions, thinking I was never pleasing anyone, and that in fact everyone was in their own bubble of negativity. Then I met my husband who is perhaps brutally honest and prefers to never assume. He taught me there are 2 sides to every story especially the one in your head. Even if you feel true negativity, perhaps that poor soul had a very bad day, life, event. It does no good to respond to negativity with more negativity. Know your own strength, stop swimming in negative thoughts and maybe even try to find out the truth behind others stories. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others by finding out the truth.

    sarahs last blog post: Monday Morning Muffins

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  79. Simone commented
    November 19th, 2008 at 6:14am

    Just catching up, been away! YES YES YES!! I have been having thoughts along a similar line. More to do with not sharing and being competitive with friends or potential friends.. its all so complicated. We have a saying amongst my friends esp with my guy “Assumptions are the mother of all f*** ups. ” ;) (many a communication break down has been solved by starting with this phrase)

    Myself I try very hard to keep myself open and stay the course, what I am here for? My friends, my family and myself. I don’t need to be popular with others I do not know. My blog is for expressing and communicating with loved ones overseas(however its just starting along the marketing lines too). I also like to exhibit my work now and then, as i am not professional in my photography and art yet, so the blog is the only place i can. Its sad though, i find some girls i know get so competitive i start avoiding them.. because I am tired of making sure i behave correctly, by NOT asking them how they did something… Oi.

    Simones last blog post: Back from Melbourne and New Website

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