How Jumping to Conclusions Affects Us

Esmael Darman 

Our assumptions are not always true and acting upon them can have a detrimental impact on our emotional health and social relationships.

One of the most important areas of our lives is our social relationships. It is critical, because first and foremost, we are social creatures. We cannot even obtain and develop a sense of identity unless we are brought up among people and start communicating with them. And once we reach adulthood, we invest in these relationships for our future plans. So it is not only about survival, but it is also about personal and family success. We can add as many reasons as we can to highlight the significance of social relationships.

In the meantime, however, there are some ways of thinking, specifically some cognitive distortions, that can negatively impact these relationships by leading to certain behaviors. One of them is jumping to conclusions. What exactly is it?

It simply means making negative interpretations without actual evidence. In other words, you act like a mind reader and make assumptions based on that. For instance, you might say “Look at her face. I know that she hates me!” In some other cases, you may act like a fortuneteller and argue that “I just feel that something bad is going to happen,” whereas there is nothing to prove that.

This type of behavior is seen across cultures. However, since we tend to “imply” and use an indirect form of speech and communication in our Afghan culture, we use it obviously more. We usually don’t make the effort to ask the other person what’s going on and instead prefer to make various assumptions, and as a consequence, come to different conclusions, most of which are not necessarily true! The misunderstanding can get worse and hurt both us and others if we act upon these assumptions and conclusions. People who suffer from some types of anxiety disorders, particularly Generalized Anxiety Disorders, excessively use this type of cognitive distortions and often look for reasons to keep worrying and justify their worries.

One of the most effective ways to tackle this type of distortion is to learn how to ask questions, explore, seek information, and improve communication skills. Otherwise, it will add up to our everyday stress, consume a great deal of our mental energy, and impact our relationships not only within the family but also in other circles and spheres.