Automatic Negative Thoughts
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.
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.