Psychology Tip of the Week #3: Beware of Mind Reading

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In Psychology Tip of the Week #2 I mentioned that “it can feel like proof that I’m bugging people” if anyone unsubscribes after receiving my blog posts. I chose these words carefully because, while it “can” feel that way, it doesn’t have to. The fact is, I don’t know why any given person might choose to unsubscribe, and while it is possible that some people feel “bugged,” others likely have other reasons.

It can be easy to read intentions into other people’s behavior, but it’s also a common thinking error that tends to make us feel bad without good reason. It’s called “mind reading.” When we engage in mind reading, we often assume whatever we fear is true. If someone doesn’t return a text, for example, it can be easy to think that person is mad at you and feel anxious, or that they’re being rude and feel mad, or that they don’t want to be friends anymore and feel sad. If you tend to be anxious, you may often assume people don’t like you or are mad at you.

This week, catch yourself making assumptions about what other people are thinking and see if there may be an alternative explanation.