One Simple Tool

Assumptions have a crazy amount of power to shape our experience and impact what we believe to be true about a situation. If we have a positive assumption our experience is often positive. If we choose a negative assumption, then yes, our experience is often negative. Teaching students how to use the Assumption Chart in the Academic Life Coaching program is one of my favorite things to do as the “aha” moments and potential for life change are so huge when students understand this one simple tool.

Assumptions and Our Actions

With assumptions, we begin with a bundle of beliefs about a situation that become a lens through which we see our circumstances. That perspective or lens in turn shapes how we act, which creates evidence for why we believe and can often prove our initial assumption. In psychology, this phenomenon is referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to the Urban Dictionary, a self-fulfilling prophecy is something we cause to happen by believing it will come true. The assumption chart is simply a tangible way to teach students that what they believe, and the actions they take as a result of those beliefs, can have enormous implications in their lives and the lives of those around them.

So, how do we help students ensure that the assumptions they make are in their best interest and are going to be helpful to them? The Assumption Chart is my #1 go to coaching tool.

Here’s How It Works:

  1. Have students identify a negative assumption they are currently holding about a situation in their life.
  2. Help them think/talk through how that negative assumption is coloring their thoughts and emotions, and is acting as a lens through which they are seeing their situation.
  3. Ask them what actions they find themselves taking as a result of their assumption, and how they are viewing things.
  4. Help them identify how their actions may be the source of evidence that leads back to their initial negative assumption.

You and/or your students now have a clear picture of what is going on with the negative assumption and how their actions are impacting their circumstances.

Now for the FUN Part:

  1. Flip the negative assumption 180 degrees to a POSITVE assumption. If the negative assumption is something like “My teacher doesn’t like me and is out to get me,” a positive assumption would be “I’m one of my teacher’s favorite students and he/she is totally for me.” (Let students know they may need to initially use their imaginations with the flip. When they are engrained in a negative assumption, it takes a bit to be ready to make a switch.)
  2. Ask students to talk through how this new positive assumption might color their thoughts and emotions on their classroom interactions, and the lens through which they are seeing and experiencing their teacher.
  3. Ask what new actions they might find themselves taking in class with the belief that they are a favorite student and their teacher is totally for them.
  4. Talk through how these new actions will impact the evidence of how the teacher feels about them.
  5. Create an action with students for how they want to remember and begin taking steps toward living out their new positive assumption.

Lens for Life

The real power of this tool is in helping students realize the things they believe and the actions they take impact the outcome of situations. They are not powerless to create change in their lives or the lives of those around them. They have the ability, and now understanding of what it will take to create positive change in areas of life that they may have previously felt powerless to move forward in. Sometimes all it takes for there to be profound change is someone making a choice to view things through a positive lens, and then allowing their actions to follow.

Thanks for checking out my blog! Assumptions is an Academic Life Coaching concept. I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate and a licensed therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.