Mind reading: How to stop it ruining our relationships & stressing us out
The most common discovery made by women in our Life Changing Coaching Sessions is that they are ruining their relationships and making themselves miserable and stressed because they are mind reading. Our mind reading is ruining our relationships. But take heart! There are plenty of things us girls can do to stop mind reading and change how we feel in our relationships.
I am directing this blog toward us women because quite simply, guys are just not in their heads as much as we are. Yes – this is a generalisation but we need generalisations to understand our world and stay sane. And you can always challenge it by asking your nearest and dearest man-friend what he’s thinking right now and I bet you get tumbleweeds rolling across a desert or near to it – and aren’t you just a little bit jealous?!
Mind reading as something cool
My first encounter with mind reading was as something cool or scary somebody cool or scary did on TV or in the movies – you know like Damien from the Omen films or Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise? As a kid, mind reading totally sounded like the thing you wanted to be able to do right? That and flying. Total super hero stuff! Imagine the power you would have! And imagining is actually very close to what we are doing when we try and mind read isn’t it?
How on Earth can we really know?
Even if we have known the person most of our lives and share similar values, education, holiday locations, Christmases etc (like with a family member or best friend), we are each so totally unique in our interpretation and understanding of our world. We all experience the same events so differently. Ask any Police Officer how widely the reports vary when they take statements from witnesses of the same event and they will tell you this very thing. So how on Earth can we really know for sure what a whole other unique person is thinking?
It is impossible isn’t it? You may be telling yourself that you do know your husband or best friend or Mother? Really? Are you truly privy to their innermost, hidden and quiet spaces and the voice of the soul that inspires them? Have you been part of every single experience, decision, value judgement and thought process they have ever had leading them to this exact point in their life? Are you really on the inside of their brain?
So if we don’t really know them, is this a bad thing?
I hear my wonderful Coach and Mentor Deborah Bow in my ears right now: nothing is either good or bad, it’s just different. So go ahead and let go of that largely ego and fear driven idea that we must truly know our nearest and dearest. It is exactly this idea stopping us from knowing them at all.
How so you ask? Well, if you think you know them and that’s what you tell yourself, what you tell yourself about them becomes who they are to you. Got it?
And because we now agree we cannot really know them, who they become to us can crazily be an inaccurate composition of our judgements and our mind reading. If we allow it to happen, our stories about who they are and what they are thinking and what they meant to say will become who they are to us. Do we really want our relationships built upon our stories? Built upon such flimsy evidence as our judgements about facial expressions or the meaning of unclear statements we didn’t quite get and went ahead and made up our own meaning about them anyway?
For us to change, we must become very aware and suspicious of our statements and remonstrations that sound like these: “she thinks… xyz” or “it looked like they… yada yada yada” or “she looked away and that means… bibbitybobbity boo!” Whenever we hear ourselves telling ourselves we know what they meant or think, all we need do to change is to ask ourselves:
But HOW do I know? Did they ACTUALLY say that?
An example ~
Last Thursday I visited my local Post Office with a parcel all done up and ready for posting. I had previously purchased 100 of these parcels because they are less than half price in bulk but that purchase was months ago and not from the attendant I was served by this time.
So we went through the posting routine (I am getting very used to this now with sending all my amazing Genki Pet Spritzes to customers) and when it came to the “are you paying for this packaging too” part, naturally I said no and my P.O friend made a face. From my point of view, he then behaved like he didn’t believe me, all huffing and puffing and pouting and was quite curt with me.
Now of course, if I thought I had the amazing and super hero power of mind reading, I might have judged his behaviour toward me based solely on his facial expressions, tone and curtness and could have made up a whole story about what it meant. But because I know I could not possibly know what any of his stuff meant, I walked out into a gorgeous sunny day smiling and thinking how pleased I was that I had chosen not to judge, mind read and react based on the illusion I had tried to feed myself.
What to do instead of mind reading?
Ask clarifying questions!
Because when we don’t understand something, asking questions and good questions at that, is the very best way to find out the answers and move from confusion to understanding right? And understanding is a vital element in the relationships we value.
I rather LOVE this experience because it so often proves to me that my story is my story. It is not them or their truth or reality. It is what I have concocted based on flimsy evidence.
It can be a hard habit to break, especially if you’re the kind of woman who is really in touch with her intuition and primal sense, but think of it as a technique you can use to confirm what your gut and heart feels or thinks it already knows. Stopping the mind reading and asking clarifying questions instead will, I guarantee you, lead to greater respect, honesty and connection in all your relationships, not just the passing ones at the P.O.