THINKING ERRORS: Mind Reading
Mind reading is a cognitive distortion wherein we negatively interpret others’ facial expressions, behaviours, words etc and believe that they’re thinking negatively of us or looking down on us.
For example, assuming that someone doesn’t like you because they’re scowling. They might be scowling because they’re in pain but you’ve already assumed that they think badly of you.
I often hear people say, I know what he/she thinks of me. Yes, you can have an idea but if you really investigate this belief, you’ll be surprised how often you are wrong.
These strategies work for me, they might work for you too. Give it a try when yo do mind reading next time:
- Give the person a benefit of doubt. Think of other reasons for their behaviour.
- See how the person behaves the next time you meet them. Is there a change? Take the new behaviour into account.
- If you’re close to the person, ask them. Understanding what the person is going through will give you a clue.
- Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine if your behaviour were to be misinterpreted by another person. Wouldn’t you like the person to give you a benefit of doubt or at least a chance to explain?
- Take a look at how you feel about yourself. Do you like and accept yourself? The more you’re prone to self dislike, the more the chances are that you’ll read others behaviours as negative towards you. ( Some behaviours are pretty easy to interpret and you’ll know for sure they’re rude or insulting towards you but most facial expressions and behaviours fall in the grey zone. It’s for those grey zone behaviours where mind reading isn’t helpful. )
- If you’ve already acted on your assumption and you don’t like how you behaved, simply apologise.