If I asked "Are you a mind-reader," you would most likely say "No." However many of us live our lives reacting to what we believe someone else is thinking. Confused? Let me give you a typical scenario.
A husband and wife are traveling to visit family for the holidays. The husband is driving and the wife is gazing out the passenger window. She is thinking "I really wish he would slow down", but she does not say anything. Instead, her train of thought goes something like this:
If I say anything, he's going to get mad. The last thing I want to do is start arguing with four more hours in this car. Besides, the last time I commented on his driving he sped up. What a baby he can be sometimes. Doesn't he realize he could kill us both? Idiot! I didn't want to go on this trip anyway. We always go to his parents for the holidays. We never go where I want to go or do what I want to do.
She is visibly tensing up and her husband notices. "Are you okay?" he asks. "Fine," she replies icily.
At this point, he has no idea what is wrong, but he is fully aware something has upset his wife.
Can you hear the escalation of her emotions and anger? His faults went from poor driving to total disregard for her in a matter of moments. Was any of this true?
She has reacted to a conversation inside of her own head. Her husband was not a party to it at all, however she is reacting to what she thinks he would say and do. Instead of verbalizing her initial thought and asking him to slow down, she assumed he would not care. She became a mind-reader. As a result, tension developed between them based on an assumption.
Notice when we try to read other people's minds, we often think negatively for them. Rarely do we believe they will agree with us or want to hear about our needs. When we assume, we usually assume the worst and then react accordingly. The other person feels blindsided because we are at least five steps ahead of them in the argument we are having in our minds. This is not only unfair, but destructive to any relationship.
Now that you know what to look for, try to catch yourself when you are mind-reading. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt and take a chance by saying what you need to say. Many times you will find your mind-reading skills are way off base.
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