\Here’s another of the Four Agreements cards by Don Miguel Ruiz, in the category Don’t Make Assumptions.
Ask for what you want
Find the courage to ask for what you want. Others have the right to tell you Yes or No, but you always have the right to ask. LIkewise, everybody has the right to ask you for what they want, and you have the right to say Yes or No.
How many of us regularly ask for what we want? From early childhood on, we are taught that to be selfish is a terrible sin, rather than learning the real lesson, which is that we may ask any question we wish — in fact, our questions remind us that we are alive, involved in our own lives and in the life of this world.
Many people decide long before they query anyone or anything what the right answer is, and that any other is unacceptable. (What comes next is purely my opinion — I am neither a psychiatrist, sociologist, psychologist, nor counselor.) I believe that those of us who feel that only one answer to our question is possibly correct, (and I include myself in that group, for most of my life,) were convinced very early on in our lives that wrong answers were completely unacceptable, and that we would be shamed and denigrated if we ever answered a question incorrectly. I believe this is true of me — I was so focused on not rocking the boat, I learned that not asking any questions was the best strategy, rather. assuming I knew, or should know, the right answer through some kind of odd osmosis.
Children’s self-esteem, and the extent to which they fear being wrong, depend on being encouraged to ask questions with the knowledge that asking is okay — that that is how they will learn about the world. They must also be taught to expect whatever answer is given. As they grow older, boys and girls will arrive more and more frequently at answers they don’t want to hear. If they have learned from a young age that answers can go either way when they ask for them, they will adjust more easily to life’s ups and downs as they get older.
Finally, everyone needs to beware making assumptions about what we know, or about what others know. If we don’t ask the question because we think we already know what someone will say, we can spend great huge chunks of our lives laboring under misconceptions. No one is a mind reader. If you want to know, ask; then be ready for whatever the answer may be.