Have you ever wondered why the brain is able to recall negative experiences with ease but retrieving positive ones takes a conscious effort? Everything could have gone well except for one incident, and then the brain decides that particular incident belongs to the ‘high priority’ section of your memory, and that you shall never forget it. Expect now, you can’t actually remember what was said, all you remember is how you felt. 

My trip to Portugal was awesome! In November 2019, with the help of  Momentum World, I flew out for an Erasmus Plus training programme on News and Running a Social Media Campaign. I couldn’t have been more blessed with the people I met and the exposure to the Portgueese way of life. The rainy cold days didn’t bother me, not with the portugeese hospitality and delicious warm food.I enjoyed the quietness in Castelo de Vide, the daily hugs from my 9 year old roommate, morning yoga/exercise classes, walking through a castle in the dark, saying ‘yes’ to coffee, listening to the words of wisdom from others, accepting plans that didn’t go to plan, and making ‘real’ human connections, which leads to stalking on social media. It’s ok, they know. 


But every once in a while we meet someone, and we know almost immediately that we would be happier to spend the rest of our lives without them.  I am quite certain I’ve also been put in that category too. And that is ok. According to Peligrino Riccardi, a cross cultural expert, we should not assume our own assumptions are the same as others, and that it is all about perceptions. The way people perceive us is different from the way we perceive ourselves. The way people understand our verbal and non verbal communication is also varied.  The unfortunate thing is that sometimes we know better, we just don’t do better. Sometimes a thing could have been avoided from escalation if we had just addressed it from the beginning, instead of letting it fester, until bam! Someone is deeply hurt.  

 Although making assumptions can be damaging, our human brains are constantly making them. We are influenced by experiences, education, upbringing, culture, understanding, media and much more. It affects the way we interact with  people. Our brain is constantly making judgments, and even if we suspended our ability to make a judgement, something happens or someone comes along and reinforces our assumptions. Soon our assumptions become a belief. Our belief then affects our thoughts, which triggers certain chemicals to make us feel  a certain way, which then influences our behaviour, leading to a result, which may not always be positive.

The only way I  understand how to interrupt this progress is by having a mindset of openness and curiosity.  Sometimes that can get you into trouble too (trust me) but generally it gets you through many things, and you can ask as many questions as you want, provided it’s done through sincere interest, empathy and good verbal/non verbal communication. There is so much we can learn from the people around us, if we are curious enough. We can challenge and change assumptions, even after an unhappy experience. 

By Ruma Parvin