Preconceived Notions

Have you ever been so sure you knew how something was going to play out, that you had already made up your mind how the story ended before it even began?

I made some incorrect assumptions today and it almost cost me a great experience.

In the little town where my practice is, they decorate all the trees with lights for the holiday season. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, I volunteered to help put those lights up today in preparation for that time. I showed up at the designated time, grabbed a box of lights and headed for the part of town I was assigned to.

I had just finished staging the lights from the box, one spool at each light pole and two spools at each tree when a group of young women walked up and asked if I needed volunteers for that area. I did indeed, even as I was saying yes, I was making a snap judgment. I had already decided that this wouldn’t end well. I did it without even thinking about it and I regret it. It’s exactly the kind of thing I work with clients to avoid.

You see, the four young women were wearing name tags from their church. They represented a church that I have sometimes found to intolerant and even hostile toward hypnosis. I assumed. I assumed that would be the case with these four women.

We got to work. I enjoyed their company. They were wonderful to work with. They worked well as a team and included me like I was part of their group. But in the back of my mind, I could hear it coming”

Rob, what do you do for a living?

As the conversation progressed, I debated, should I come right out and say “I am a hypnotherapist.” or should I avoid the inevitable chilling of the mood from Christmas festive to Christmas ice storm and just say I am a therapist? Finally, I had it all figured out. I had made a decision and I was ready for the question. Only no one asked. In fact, we were finished with the job at hand and I had spent a good portion of the time worrying and planning instead of enjoying the moment and the great company as much as I could have.

After we put our tools away, the four wanted to wash up. Since we were just a block from my office, I offered the washrooms just down the hall from my practice and away we went as a group. As we were taking turns, two washrooms and five people, eventually there were just two of us in the hallway and out it came:

Rob, what do you do for a living?

I replied; “I’m a therapist”. Chickening out. Once we were all assembled once again, the conversation continued and I worked hypnosis into my description. No one even blinked. In fact, there were questions about what I do. Really good, really on point, really intelligent questions. I had judged these young women and worst of all, done so without any real basis for doing so and I had been incorrect in that judgment, all without even giving them a chance. No one seemed to be judging me and what I do. I was alone in judging this day.

They were serving a BBQ lunch for us lighting crew volunteers, and for the next hour, the five of us and occasionally other volunteers had an amazing, stimulating, thoughtful conversation. Plainly I had jumped to a very, very wrong conclusion.

Sisters, thank you. Today you reminded me of something I should have already known too well to forget so easily. I need to avoid judging situations and people by what I think they represent and instead of pay attention to what they really are. You taught me a lesson I needed, about assuming I can judge a book by its cover. I am so glad that I met each of you. You left me with a wonderful impression of you and the organization you represent. You reminded me of something, taught me something, and I will not forget it.

I am thankful for having met you.

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