That’s just *YOUR* Story: Mind Reading (Distorted Thinking Style)

I recently wrote a post on the 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking.  It’s important to acknowledge when we have been operating in one of these styles and to further acknowledge when we are telling a story that we’ve created in that mindset.

Years ago, I went to massage therapy school – more so to learn the spiritual aspect of mind-body, which is probably why I better remember those courses than the ones on anatomy.
One of my teachers in a mind-body-spirit class repeatedly taught lessons during which he would often throw in the phrase, “No, that’s YOUR story.”

He would talk about how he would often get into conversations and notice that people would make assumptions and create stories to explain what others must be thinking and feeling or to explain their actions.

This is an excellent one of the fifteen styles of distorted thinking:

Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you” (page 26 Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life).

Let’s say you were recently called out on an error you made, and several coworkers had overheard your boss.  Later that day, you see some of your coworkers standing around in the snack area laughing and sipping coffee together.

You go back to your office and think, “They’re all such jerks. Talking about me and laughing behind my back. They didn’t even invite me to have a coffee break with them. I’m the ‘outsider’ now for sure.”

Does this assessment lines up with reality?  Can we really know what others are thinking without asking them or without their telling us?

Wise Mind asks:

  • Do you know for a fact that your coworkers were talking and laughing about you?  Did you actually hear something to this effect?   ☐ Yes       No 
  • Were you available when your coworkers gathered for a break?   ☐ Yes     No    Not sure
  • Is it a fair judgment to consider all of your coworker, who you liked this morning, suddenly be ‘all jerks?’     ☐ Yes       No     (This is actually another form of distorted thinking called Polarized or Black or White Thinking, for example, people are either “all good” or “all bad.” If you tend to put people on a pedestal only to kick them off, this post on “Splitting” is for you. )
It’s so easy to forget that sometimes a thought is just a thought or a feeling is just a feeling. Neither are always facts. Reminding ourselves of this the next time we begin to write “our story” can save us much unnecessary suffering.
The next time you get upset over a situation like this, run through some fact checking questions with your Wise Mind, and ask, “Is this an accurate picture of what happened, or could this possibly just be ‘my story’?  Could this by my Emotion Mind talking?  Am I attempting to mind read?”
Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder, as a learned survival mechanism, “read people,” as I wrote about in my post “The Psychic Borderline…” but it’s important to remember that our perceptions and interpretations can be skewed by Emotion Mind and one of the Distorted Thinking Styles and that grounding through Wise Mind can help us gain clarity and direction in such cases.
Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

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