Are you a mind reader?

Before sitting down to write this I was sharing a cuppa with a lovely lady and we were talking about some advice she had heard from a counsellor suggesting that arguments were a good thing because they could solve problems.

Now, my heckles went up a little at this because how often do we say things in arguments that we just can't take back?  My take - it is not the arguing that solves the problem, it is communication - and I'd put forward that communication is more effective when calm!

But this conversation was like the icing on the cake after having, numerous times this week, talked to clients about how their anxieties were being strongly influenced by what I call mind reading - assuming you know what people are thinking rather than talking and finding the facts out.

I am confident in saying that I believe we all do it!  We assume we know why someone has reacted in a certain way, we second guess what is behind certain behaviours - all mind reads rather than facts.  And based on these assumptions we then make our own decisions, leading to our own feelings....and just one little incorrect assumption can quickly cascade out of control.

Yesterday I had cause to 'walk the talk' with my good communications lessons.

Three days ago some neighbours of Dad dropped by to find him unresponsive in bed.  They dialled 999 and fortunately an ambulance was with them very quickly.  With some little ambulance man type investigations, they discovered that the carer, (who should be with Dad around 8am) had arrived at 10.20 and written in their records that Dad had expressed he wanted to stay in bed and just left.  'Interesting' that Dad had had this 'conversation' with her just an hour before he was unable to even blink his eyes at his neighbour.  

So my mind went 'off on one' assuming that the carer had been neglectful, was lazy etc - but ding dong - mind read!  I have no idea what was in her mind, what her intentions were on that visit, what actually had been said (or not!)

Next step, talking to social services who appointed said care firm.  The temptation to get angry was high, fuelled by my feeling handicapped by being 65 miles away and not being able to have these converstaions face to face.  So time again to put preaching into practise. 

One of my client conversations was about being clear on your goal - what is the intention you have behind the communication?  With a clear goal in my head of what I wanted to happen, we are already making progress towards that.  By keeping to facts, I avoided mind reading the social services agent, (and hopefully reduced her inclination to mind read me!)   And a bonus to all of emotions are stilll under control.  No anger, no resentfulness, no blame.  We are still a long way from getting where I want to end up but progress is progress and (hopefully) by avoiding mind reading, by remaining calm, I have created more of a partnership in achieving that goal and by pulling together, we'll achieve more and be working with the facts!

And if you follow my  blog, you'll know how much I like a win:win :-)

Last week several of you left comments about taking responsibility which I loved reading so thank you. And who is up for sharing your thoughts today?  Are you now aware of how often (or not!) that you mind read?  And having read this, what is going on in your mind now?

Please share them with me ....

Published by Caroline Cavanagh Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy. on |

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