Jumping to Conclusions – Mind Reading (DW#496)

Sometimes we are convinced that we know what another person is thinking and what their motivation is for doing something. We make this assumption and then we start treating that assumption as if it were a fact – true beyond dispute.

If that assumption is neutral or positive there is no harm done. For example, if I go grocery shopping, I can safely assume that my spouse will like a certain brand of ice cream. This is mind reading from past experience and does no harm (unless he has decided to go on a diet, of course).

The vast majority of time, however, our assumptions are far from positive or neutral. They are negative interpretations that we have come to from a given set of facts without checking them out.

If someone does not greet us in a public place, we may assume any of the following:

-       They are mad at us
-       We have offended them in some way
-       They are holding onto a grudge from long ago
-       They have become "big shots" and have no time for small    fish like us anymore

When we start thinking along these lines, our behavior towards them will definitely change which will cause a change in the relationship itself.

So how do we counteract these assumptions? 

By checking in with the other person. 

Really. It is the only way. And yes it does take courage but it is SO much easier in the long run rather than torturing ourselves with mind reading and negative interpretations. 

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