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Automatic Negative Thoughts

Mind Reading
Automatic Negative Thoughts

Automatic Negative Thoughts

Mind Reading

By now, you have hopefully been catching your thoughts as you began predicting future outcomes and now see how the mind takes a thought and creates this negative feedback loop that just grows and grows.

Today, I want to introduce you to another type of automatic negative thought – mind reading.

We all do it and we all experience negative results from allowing it to happen.

I will use a very recent experience with my 4 year old daughter as a perfect example of “mind reading” in action.

We were in the DVD section at a major retailer looking for new kids movies. My daughter is a very happy child and she loves to sing, which is what she was doing while we were browsing.

The next isle over, there was a group of teens laughing and joking. My daughter became agitated and expressed that it was very rude of those kids to laugh at her. However, they were not laughing at her singing and they probably weren’t even aware of her presence.

Can you relate to this?

How many times have you “thought” you knew what someone else was thinking when in fact you weren’t even close?

Often we might even feel guilty because we “should have known” what someone else was thinking. In relationships, especially between couples that have been together for more than a few years, there is this mis-belief that our extended familiarity with a mate should tune us in to their thoughts.

Think of how many times arguments has been created in your relationships that were prefaced with the words “you should have known”.

Most of us have difficulty knowing our own thoughts – unless of course we are being vigilant in practicing self awareness – let alone what’s running through someone else’s mind!

Now, if most people don’t know what’s going on in their own minds, how in the world do you think it is even remotely possible you can read someone’s mind and “know” exactly what they are thinking?

Think about this! Just today or yesterday, how many times have you automatically read someone’s mind and “judged” them by the expression on their face, their posture or tone of voice and assumed you “knew” this person was angry, miserable, depressed or perhaps happy and loving.

There is absolutely no way you can know exactly what is going on inside someone’s mind. When I am intently thinking about something, I have a blank look on my face. Often others ask if I am in a bad mood, when in fact I am feeling quite happy.

Think of all the instances where a fellow employee or boss gave you a cross look, ignored you or even raised their voice and you immediately “assumed’ it had to do with something you “thought” was wrong.

In fact, they could have had an argument with their spouse, were feeling down, or many other reasons – all which had nothing to do with you.

Today’s Challenge:

Start watching your automatic negative thoughts and when you catch your self mind reading, remember it is often difficult to know your own thoughts and it’s not likely you have the expertise to read mind of another.

Reserve your judgment about what the other person is thinking and if the situation warrants further investigation, ask for clarification. Don’t assume anything and don’t allow your automatic negative thoughts to unravel out of control.

As always, I urge you to leave your comments. Let us know what automatic negative thoughts you caught and how a potentially negative situation turned out positive.

  1. Lezlie Ely
    July 14th, 2011 at 18:42 | #1

    Not that I’m completely innocent, but I wonder if this is exactly what my Husband is doing.
    There are many times when I begin to say something, and he automatically takes it somewhere completly different – most of the time he thinks I’m saying something is wrong w/something he did or didn’t do, when in fact it has NOTHING to do w/him!
    I guess I should print this article out for him – or maybe not!!

    Thanks for sharing your insights :)

  2. July 22nd, 2011 at 06:51 | #2

    Thanks for commenting Lezlie.

    Must be a husband thing. I have caught myself mind reading – thinking my wife was making a critical statement or even trying to start an argument – when in fact all she was doing was making conversation.

    To change the dynamic between yourself and your husband, start sending him “love” regularly. The more love you send him, the more you will begin to see his responses to you change.

    In relationships it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at the faults in others. However, if we take that energy and devote it to focusing on sending love, the outcomes are truly magical. People in our life who were previously difficult begin responding to us in a positive manner.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best,

  3. January 8th, 2014 at 16:51 | #3

    I can so relate to this, mind reading is not a gift, if it was why then don’t we use it as an asset, an advantage, rather than a use it against ourselves? Why is it always ONE sided, I suffer with clinical depression as well as borderline personality disorder so I don’t know if these two come into play when I mind read and I know I do it. I have social anxiety and I hide myself away, because I claim to know exactly what people are thinking of me 100% of the time it’s nasty and uncomplimentary, so why do I do it? Why can’t I turn mind reading into a positive and conjure up positive things that people are thinking about me instead of negative.

    Mind reading is a curse. Could you imagine if us humans could actually mind read? The world would be a horrid place to be in and we couldn’t cope with it… We’d implode..

    So if it’s such a curse why do we do it automatically? Why do it at all, how do we stop it, or make mind reading to help us in life rather than hurt us.

    Thanks for your words on the subject.


  4. January 9th, 2014 at 18:26 | #4

    Hi Reese,

    Thanks for commenting – and the being brutally honest.

    I easily recall as a teenager worrying about what others thought of me. In the research I have done, it is human nature to always be looking for the worst. This is how humanity survived.

    Unfortunately, that genetic DNA passed on to us is no longer valid and we more often than not are in no danger for survival, but our brains still react as if we were.

    This is why it is so important to become consciously aware of your thoughts, accept them without judgment, release the negatives and then change the direction of your mind by focusing on a feel good memory.

    Two problems people have are first – trying to force themselves to think positively and then getting angry when they can’t.

    The second problem is not being aware of and accepting their own thoughts. Instead we try to push them away (hide them) which creates a ton of confusion in our minds as we show the world one face while our subconscious is struggling with another face we thought was hidden.

    Hope this helps.


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