It has been a few years since I wrote my first article on “Mind-Reading,” and it was a topic that was very intriguing to people, as many people realized this was happening in their own relationships. If we take a moment and step back, we would realize that we are all guilty of mind-reading at some point in our relationship, and in many types of relationships that we have. To clarify, Mind-Reading: is when we assume what the other person is thinking, feeling, how they will respond and react, and we develop negative feelings towards them based on these assumptions. Mind-reading is the death of many a relationship.
We have history with each of the relationships in our lives. Things have happened, good and bad, they have responded certain ways in certain situations that were favorable or unfavorable. The issue, when it comes to mind-reading, is that we generalize their reaction. We tell ourselves, if they responded a certain way in a certain situation one time, they will respond the same in perceived similar situations all the time. This generalizing is what causes angry feelings and issues in relationships time and time again. Each person, and each situation is unique, and when we are close to someone, we tend to lose perspective of that. We would not want someone jumping to conclusions about us, before giving us a chance to respond, so why are we so quick to do this to others.
The number of times a couple has sat in front of me and described a situation of mind-reading is staggering. One partner is mad at the other because they “Just know,” how they were going to respond to something they wanted, or were going to ask them. They tell themselves that their partner is going to have a negative reaction, they never actually ask them the question, and they walk around with resentment building up inside of them for the perceived wrong their partner has done to them. However, remember that the partner was never asked, and had no idea what it is their partner is upset about!
Too often I have uttered the words, “Well, did you ask them what they thought about that, or would do?” The person will start to defend that they know what they will say. Then I have them ask the partner the question. More times than not, they were incorrect about their partners response. This is always a wake-up call to each of them. Realizing how often we assume what our partner will do or say. Perhaps even worse, assigning the worst possible intentions and reactions to this person we supposedly love. Something I see very often with mind-reading is that the partner decides that their mate is going to have an extremely negative, and often unflattering response to them. They jump to conclusions that this person they have chosen, has bad intentions towards them, or that they are often going to react in a vindictive way. If this is true, why are we with this person. If this is not true, why do we rush to the assumption that these are their intentions.
We take for granted how often we are guilty of mind-reading, how much better our lives could be if we stopped repeating this habit, and if we were willing to ask the people in our lives the questions, instead of jumping to conclusions. Mind-reading, falls under the umbrella of communication, and communication issues are one of the leading causes of divorce. If you love this person, if you want to be with them, and you want to have as healthy a relationship as possible, stop mind-reading, and start asking the questions. Good or bad, at least you can talk about your feelings and responses, and the two of you can have a conversation about the way each of you feel and why. This helps bring about greater understanding and connection between the two of you, and will often surprise you, when you find out that your assumptions about your partner, were wrong. If we were willing to communicate, or even give our partners the benefit of the doubt, we would have happier and healthier relationships that are more likely to last.