When we refer to mind reading we do not mean, of course, that you are capable of knowing what other people are actually thinking, but rather we are referring to that process in which you think you know what other people are thinking.
It is one of the thinking traps that can get in the way of happiness and success.
People who regularly attempt ‘mind reading’ have a tendency to assume that the things other people are thinking about them are negative rather than positive despite the fact that both types of evaluation are equally possible.
This raises an interesting question:
Why do mind-readers automatically assume that what others are thinking about them is negative when its completely impossible to know what other people are actually thinking?
In other words, you make assumptions that people think negatively about you because you tend to think negatively about yourself.
Mind Reading in Action
- Simon’s boss suggests that he books a few weeks off annual leave in order to re-charge ready for the Autumn sales period. Simon decides that what his boss is really saying is that he is underperforming and needs to take some time out to think about how important his career actually is! Undoubtedly whilst he is away on his break, they’ll be trying to find a replacement for him.
- You pass your neighbour on the street and offer him a hearty ‘good morning’. He does offer a quick ‘morning’ back but doesn’t look particularly happy to see you and walks off quickly. You conclude that he is unhappy with you about something to explain his less than cheerful demeanor. It was most likely the noise that your dog was making last night, and he is probably going to complain about you to the council.
In both of these mind reading scenarios lots of different assumptions are being made about other people’s thoughts and motivations and notably, without any apparent evidence on which to base those assumptions.