Being a trained Psychologist, I am often asked if I am a mind reader, especially by those I encounter for the first time. My usual answer is that if I had super powers such as mind reading and future telling I would not have spent 10 years of my life studying and training as a psychologist. However, this still doesn’t help people to feel totally at ease around me – the fear that I could potentially enter into their minds and read their thoughts is still there somehow.
This is because we all do mind reading from time to time and this helps us a great deal when it comes to social interactions with others.
Human beings are social animals and mind reading has a specific function – it helps us interpret what happens around us.
However, one has to be careful because this is all based on our thinking styles and ultimately core beliefs (also known as life rulers) – and all this stuff belongs to ourselves, not to other people. Without even noticing it, most of us constantly attribute thoughts and feelings to other people’s actions.
Mind reading is a cognitive distortion.
Cognitive distortions refer to biased ways of thinking about oneself and the world around us. They are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn't really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions - telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad.
So let me tell you something: 1) We are not born with the ability to mind read. 2) Mind reading can’t be learnt over time. 3) Psychologists aren’t trained mind readers. Reality is that we have no clue about what other people are thinking. So why do we do mind reading?
When we are mind reading we are attributing our own thoughts processes to others.
Mind reading is therefore a reassuring strategy; and this is what makes it very popular. It helps us make sense of our encounters with the world and alleviates the anxiety that the unknown brings with it.
But remember, different minds produce different thoughts. So if you catch yourself mind reading, ask yourself: How do I know what someone else is thinking? You may be right, but don’t jump to conclusions. Stick to what you know, and if you don’t know, see if you can find out.
A good tip to deal with mind reading and miscommunication that comes with it is to ask others what they meant with their actions. Remember, the fact that you believe something to be true does not necessarily mean that it is.
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