Assumptive World

Assumptive World: a set of assumptions or beliefs that orient us in the world, ground us in reality, and make us feel secure. We need a sense of reality, meaning, and purpose to life, and this is what our "assumptive world" provides.

These assumptions form our fundamental constructs of self-worth, personal power and control; they control our beliefs about the benevolence of others, issues of basic trust, safety, possibilities for intimacy, and meaningful interpretations of life-events. 

For example, consider someone's assumptions regarding self-worth if they were frequently told, “You’re stupid,” or “you’ll never amount to anything,” or “can’t you get anything right?” You would naturally expect them to have a deflated sense of self-worth. These statements can be toxic, even once; but if we hear them over and over, then they will probably become a belief, even if we don’t want them to. 

Equally, we can also have an inflated sense of self-worth. There’s no limit to our value and the value of each person, but when we think we are more valuable than others, this can become problematic. We all have a working estimate of our self-worth. 

Also, we all have a working estimate of our personal power and our ability to control things that happen in our life. Being told even once that we can’t do anything right by someone we look up to can influence our estimate of our personal power. Powerlessness can become part of our default construct. However, if we’re allowed the freedom to learn from mistakes, if we’re encouraged to set and accomplish goals, if we are, even once, able to meet an important goal, we can increase our estimate of personal power. And if we’re celebrated for reaching those goals, we have an even better chance to think of ourselves as capable. 

Personal control is a dynamic evolving construct as well. This construct controls our perception of our ability to influence and control outcomes. The advantages of believing we are powerful seem obvious: we’ll try more things and be more likely to persevere; we’ll try increasingly more complex tasks that help us grow; and we’ll be more apt to try again after an error. 

However, believing in an exaggerated sense of personal power can have a dark side. An unrealistic construct of personal power can make us vulnerable to false guilt and illegitimate shame, like we should have been able to prevent tragedy; we should have seen it coming; or, we should have done more to protect someone else. While sometimes these things might be true, generally, when we believe these things, we wind up assuming an inappropriate amount of responsibility for things we simply cannot control, much less predict. 

Part of post traumatic growth involves visiting these core issues of our assumptive world. At VetGR we include this in our approach to helping combat veterans adjust to civilian life and grow following their time of service. Won't you stand with us as we stand with our veterans? Visit us at www.VetGR.org to discover how.