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.
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.
“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. )