The Coping Kete

No. 21: Mind Reading

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness…

I will practice noticing myself trying to predict other people’s thoughts and balancing out my predictions. When I notice shifts in my mood I will scan through my thoughts and see if any of the thoughts I’ve been having about the situation were ‘mind-reading’ or focused on what others are thinking.

Mind-reading is a common thought distortion where we assume we know what people around us are thinking or feeling. Many people find their distress is being triggered because they assume other people are thinking negative things in relation to them; We might think others are displeased with us or our decisions for example.

This week, I will try to notice when/if I am doing this.  When I notice a mind-reading thought I will balance it by reminding myself that “I cannot know this for sure, it is just a theory.” I will then come up with two other possible theories for how the people around me are acting/reacting.  I will see whether there is any evidence for these other theories.

If it is appropriate at the time, I might ask the people around me whether or not they are thinking/feeling the things that I initially thought or feared they were.  For example, I might say “hey, I noticed you frowning just then, have I said something to annoy you?

Most of the time, people are going through their own things, and their reactions aren’t 100% about me. Other times, they may have misunderstood something I’ve done or said and by checking it out, I can correct them and let them know my true intentions. And more rarely, I may have actually upset someone, and by checking it out I can apologise and make it right where possible.  I can’t please everyone.

Once I am used to noticing myself mind-reading and balancing my predictions, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete for moments of stress and distress.

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