In chapter 6 of my book Stop Talking to Yourself and Start Listening, I discuss the behavior of mind reading. I think most people do this occasionally and some do it a lot. The key to changing any behavior is realizing you do it and figuring out how to do something different. Mind reading is the idea that we know what people are thinking and feeling without hearing them actually say the words. Whether it’s friends or your partner, you have the belief that you can interpret a look or a tone or a statement correctly every time. The benefit, in general of this belief is you never have to be vulnerable and open with the people in your life. Some people have valid solid reasons, for example childhood trauma for not being open and honest with those in their lives. Being open and honest creates fear because it opens them up to more emotional pain. For others, it’s a learned behavior. If there wasn’t open and honest communication in your childhood home, it’s likely you don’t know what that looks like.
Whatever the reason for your mind reading, recognize you do it and get on a path to try something different. I give a few examples of mind reading in my book. In your day to day life, be mindful and notice when you read minds. That’s it. Just notice. And you’re being mindful so no judgment just curiosity. Then write down your thoughts about what you notice. Depending on your life experiences and how safe you feel with the various people in your life, pick someone you feel most emotionally safe with and talk to them about what you assumed or mind read and get their feedback. Like I say in session, new skills are like building muscles. You have to use the muscle to get bigger or stronger muscles. Use the talking muscle in a new way by communicating your thoughts and feelings to those in your life about their words, tones, or looks. There are two benefits to this way of communicating. The first is you found out who values you. This is scary, I know. The second benefit is the deeper level of connection you feel with those in your life. This is the part that makes the scary part worthwhile. There becomes a level of trust and comfort in our relationships when we can be honest with each other that is worth the effort of trying this new way of being. Don’t mind read. Ask questions instead. The information you gather will enrich your life even if the answers are negative.