Beware of Reading Minds, Telling the Future
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?
* “She says that she is my friend but I know that she really thinks I am just dumb and stupid.”
* “When my boss gets quiet and doesn’t speak to me for several days, I know that she is considering whether to fire me or not.”
* “He didn’t look in my direction when he pulled up at the stoplight, so I know that I must have done something to make him mad.”
* “I can tell that underneath his fake smile he is always unhappy.”
Often called jumping to conclusions, such assertions as these are labeled mind reading by mental health professionals.
Mind reading, a type of cognitive distortion, occurs when a person concludes that he knows what people are thinking and feeling. These negative assumptions occur in a knee-jerk fashion and are not subject to detailed inquiry or logical examination.
Do you know anyone who makes predictions about the future?
* “I won’t look for a job because I know that no one will hire me.”
* “My boyfriend is going to leave me because nobody dates me very long.”
* “The economy is going to stay so bad that I will never be able to retire.”
This is another cognitive distortion called fortune telling. As with so-called mind reading, a reflexive tendency to automatically jump to conclusions about the future is psychologically unhealthy.
Fortune telling can result in the development of a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you think that something is going to occur, you increase the likelihood of it occurring.
This also can be viewed as setting negative goals for yourself and then living down to them.
Overcoming the tendency to mind read and tell fortunes requires that you challenge your negative beliefs and assumptions, and begin to look at life in an undistorted fashion.
Cognitive distortions sometimes are referred to as “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
You must first learn to identify this negative thinking and refute it. By refuting this over and over again, it will slowly diminish in time and can be replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright ©2012