For What It’s Worth…Mind Reading
Therapy is way more than a toolbox of intervention. Information alone cannot replace professional help. However, information can be very powerful. So, for what it’s worth to you, here is the weekly post offering a therapeutic idea, concept, or intervention that you can try out in your own life or relationships.
“So, then I left in tears and they all thought I was such a crybaby…and…”
“Wait…a cry baby? You mean someone actually came to you and told you that you were a crybaby?”
“Well, no…I mean…”
“Someone told you they overheard someone ELSE calling you a cry baby?”
“Well, no, but you know good and well that is what they thought!”
“No, I can’t say that I do.”
This very simple, fictitious conversation demonstrates a very basic example of something that causes more grief and strife in relationships as well as more pain, anxiety, and depression in a single person than a straight up blow to the face.
I have heard people come up with entire conspiracy theories about the actions of others completely based on what they were SURE others were thinking.
Mind reading is making an assumption that others think poorly of you without strong evidence and without checking it out.
Mind reading is deducing what others think based on your own assumptions.
And, we all know what happens when you ass…u…me. Right?
Mind reading is when you pass someone you know, they don’t say hello, and you assume that they look down on you in some way. Never mind that they could have been preoccupied thinking about work, their children, or any number of things.
Mind reading usually accompanies a great need to control, great egoism, or both.
When you mind read you gain a certain level of power…you think you KNOW and knowledge brings a greater sense of control and with that control…comfort. That feels good no matter how negative your made up assumptions are. At least you “KNOW”…and with that knowledge is less vulnerability. Of course, this is all in your head.
When you mind read you also reveal a great amount of egoism because you are essentially acting on the belief that everything is about YOU. If a person sighs deeply in a conversation it must be because he or she is bored with YOU…never mind that he or she just realized that they left their garage door open.
And, really…to think we can KNOW what another person is thinking…how egotistical could we be?
But, we do it…and do it often.
Mind reading is a significant ingredient in depression and anxiety. Depressed people have a habit of making a lot of assumptions that are not based on reality.
Mind reading is a habit and like all habits it can be incredibly difficult to break, but you CAN do it. The first step is stepping back and observing yourself to see if and when you engage in this behavior.
The next step is to gently and firmly confront these thoughts. Be prepared for resistance. This path of mind reading is a well-worn one in your mind and probably comes quite naturally. The part of your mind that uses mind reading to gain a sense of power, control and importance will not want to give up this tendency no matter how ill the consequences.
It will take practice and effort.
Know someone close to you who mind reads as a habit? Perhaps there are ways you can gently help them overcome the dangers of mind reading by asking simple, kind, reality-check types of questions. Parents of young people including and especially teens and preteens…watch out! They have a huge tendency to mind read!
Intuition and being able to read people empathetically can be helpful skills in relationships of all kinds.
However, there is a fine line, but a huge difference, between intuition and paranoia.
Intuition and sensitivity is NOT the same thing as mind reading. Mind reading takes it to a whole new level.
Mind reading breeds drama, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and relationship troubles.
Start by confronting it in your own thoughts, relational exchanges, and actions.
The effort will be worth it.