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Stay in your lane! Breaking free from mind-reading
What is a good skill in certain situations ends up backfiring on us.
Hi friend. In the spirit of growing the Low Fidelity community, I am changing the posting schedule a bit. I will send out the newsletter on Tuesdays, and now on Fridays, we will have an open thread where I pose a question for us to discuss. I want to hear more of your thoughts so we can learn from and help each other develop a strong mindset to help us overcome the inner challenges we face. 🙏🏽
On to this week’s newsletter…
I'm a mind reader.
It's a skill I picked up some time ago and am quite good at.
The good thing about this ability is that it helps me feel what others are feeling at a deep emotional level. Still, the downside is that I assume I know what others think or feel without evidence. My mind creates stories and assumptions about what others are feeling or thinking, and as a result, I worry too much, which locks me into a constant state of anxiety. Sometimes I can’t just take action because I begin mind-reading read the other person, and questions start to play in my head, such as:
What are they thinking?
How are they feeling?
What are they going to do?
What is mind-reading?
Mind reading is a type of cognitive distortion, a thought pattern that causes us to view reality negatively. When we mind read, we usually don't have a lot of facts to rely on, so we make assumptions that get us into trouble. Mind reading can cause anxiety, affect our mood, and make us feel miserable because of some insecurity within us.
Here are a few examples of how mind reading can show up to wreak havoc in your life, definitely not my own experiences:
Giving a presentation and noticing someone looking at their watch makes you think you are boring everyone. As a result, you get nervous and speed through the rest of the presentation to end this painful experience.
As you go for a walk, you say hi to someone walking by you without getting a response. The thoughts go racing, and you think, did they not say hi back because of you're outfit? It could also be the new haircut you got last night.
You message your friend and ask them a question, but they don't respond. You begin to think, was it something you said or did? Why wouldn't they react so you start mind-reading all the possibilities?
The examples above have a logical explanation for why they happened. When we mind-read, we assume we know the cause, but our insecurities intensify their effect on us.
This is how I mind-read
Say I need to schedule a meeting with my manager. I want to find the right time to meet with her, so immediately, I start mind reading. The questions begin swirling in my head.
Will she want to meet on a Monday? She probably has a lot of meetings on a Monday, so I'll schedule something for the next day.
Is Tuesday afternoon too late to meet? Maybe she wants to meet at the end of the day after all her other meetings.
Maybe Wednesday, Is Wednesday morning too early to meet?
Thursday, I don't know.
How about Friday? She is probably relaxed and feeling good, ok I'll schedule the meeting for Friday.
I could have scheduled the meeting for Monday and been done with it, but now this meeting is hanging over me and making me anxious.
Yes, there needs to be some empathy and understanding of others, but mind reading takes this to a whole other, not-so-helpful level. Instead of scheduling the meeting and letting my manager decide for herself, I created an elaborate story to find the time . All this happened because of some insecurity, which caused me to go above and beyond to make my manager like me. Sound ridiculous, right?
As I was writing this example, I realized how illogical this story sounds. So this mind reading needs to stop. Why go through all this overthinking just to schedule a meeting?
We can overcome this cognitive distortion and keep it from damaging us.
Ways to tackle your mind-reading thoughts
Write it down
One way to tackle the cognitive distortion of mind reading is to write the thoughts down. Once the thoughts are out of our heads and we have some distance, we can read them and examine them. We can check them and test them. We can also see the holes in the logic to begin dismantling their grip.
Examine the evidence
What evidence do you have for or against the mind-reading thought? In the example above, I had zero evidence of knowing how busy my manager was; they were all assumptions. Boom! The lack of evidence has helped me stop this thought, and now I don't need to be worried about it.
Act counter to your thought (My current approach)
What if you did the opposite of the thought? You can immediately get confirmation if your thought was valid or not, although, in my experience, I am usually surprised and relieved that my mind-reading is a complete waste of time. Acting counter to my thoughts is my go-to approach to try first as soon as I catch myself mind-reading. I'm not going to say I distrust my mind, but in the case of mind-reading, it's safe to assume I am wrong until I prove to myself that I'm no longer mind-reading.
It’s time to break free!
Ok, so maybe I’m not good at mind-reading at all. It’s a behavior I am ready to drop because it has brought many inner struggles. It’s time for me to stop this negative thought pattern.
We can break free by identifying and challenging mind-reading thoughts as they arise!
No longer do we need to be prisoners of our minds!
No longer do we need to be self-conscious!
No longer do we need to worry about the imagined reactions of others.
No longer do we need to let anxiety rule over us!
No longer do we need to be mind-readers and predict what may happen!
No longer do we need to suffer because of our cognitive distortions!
No longer will we mind-read!
Now is the time to unleash your mindset to achieve your full creative potential!
What has your experience been like with mind-reading? Share your thoughts in the comments.
🙌🏼 Stay tuned for the Friday discussion thread!
In case you missed our conversation last week, readers shared one thing that life is teaching them right now. You can still join the conversation. :)
See you on Friday!