One Infinite Life
November 21, 2017

Why we need to stop filling in the gaps

Have you ever looked at someone else’s life and thought, “I wish I had it all together like they do?” And then proceeded to feel bad about your own life because you feel like a complete disaster most of the time sometimes?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that everyone has it all together and you’re the only one that doesn’t… But it just isn’t true.

I think that this happens because from the outside we do this thing where we “fill in the gaps” on what we think is going on in other people’s lives, but we actually don’t see the full picture.

We don’t see the behind-the-scenes, the effort, the hard work, or the journey that has gotten the person to where they are — we only see the end result and then make assumptions about the stuff we don’t know.

I remember when I was studying psychology at university and the lecturer showed us a sentence where every single word had letters missing from it. At first I thought it would be impossible to read the sentence. But when I tried to, I found that I could read the sentence perfectly.

My brain was using the information that was available to me and filling in the gaps on the stuff that wasn’t there, so I could make sense of it.

Our brains are programmed to do this, to fill in the gaps — we use unconscious and conscious assumptions to fill in the rest of the information we don’t have.

Even though this is awesome that we can do this, we need to be aware that our brains work like this — especially when we’re comparing our own lives to our “filled in the gaps” version of other people’s lives.

When we compare other people’s “perfect” lives to our imperfect and messy ones, we end up feeling inadequate and like we are the only ones who haven’t got things all figured out.

But I’m here to remind you: No one has it completely together all of the time. Nobody! And I’m here to tell you that I most certainly do not have it “all figured out” either! 😉

We need to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to our “filled in the gaps” versions of other people’s lives.

We need to stop making assumption about what is going on behind-the-scenes in other people’s lives — because we really don’t know.

We need to stop scrolling our Instagram feeds and assuming we know all that is going on in someone else’s life, just because we’ve seen one square of their life.

We need to stop filling in the gaps about how someone got to where they are, or assume how easy it has been for them to achieve something.

Because the truth is we don’t really know.

And because we don’t know… We need to stop filling in the gaps.

In Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick shared that when she was was nominated for an Oscar (for Up in the Air) everyone assumed she was super ‘successful’ and living the ‘high life’ but in reality she wasn’t:

“I felt like a fraud! I was being flown around, staying in hotels I could never afford and putting on clothes that someone else picked out. When I went home, I dragged a suitcase full of those items I didn’t own across my tar-stained carpet and dumped it out at the foot of my Ikea bed.”

People around her were looking at her ‘success’ of being nominated for an Oscar and “filled in the gaps” on what they thought was going on behind-the-scenes in her life. But they were wrong.

Anna shares in the book that people were assuming that she was so much better than them now she was ‘successful’ (and because they were filling in the gaps), but she actually felt really alone and like no one understood what she was going through.

The truth is: We never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life. We don’t know what challenges they are facing. Or how much work/effort/action has gone into what they have achieved.

Because of this we need to stop assuming we’re the only ones that are living imperfect lives.

We need to stop feeling bad that we don’t have it “all together” all of the time.

We need to stop filling in the gaps.

One Infinite Life

PS. Do you find yourself doing this — filling in the gaps? Let me know in the comments below 🙂



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Why we need to stop filling in the gaps