Thought Mine #1: Hyperbole

Each Thought Mine is followed by a definition and a list of examples. Please note that the following examples are representative statements. The same sentence may represent numerous Thought Mines. I list examples mainly to give you a starting point. Often individuals blend two or three “favorite” Thought Mines together into their own type of social misreading.

Thought Mine #1: Hyperbole

Definition:

Exaggerating to prove a point to yourself or others. Deliberate and obvious exaggeration used for effect.

Negative self-talk example:

“It always happens to me… I can never get a break.”

“The doctor said it was the worst wrist break he had ever seen.”

Couple example:

“He is the most insensitive and hateful person on the planet.”

“She is the weirdest person I have ever met.”

Teen example:

“You always think the worst of me!”

“I wish I had never been born!”

Work/school example:

“Thompson is the worst teacher I have ever had. He hates me and I know it!”

 

Using hyperbole (hy•per•bo•le), to hyperbolize, is a normal part of expression. When Dad walks into the kitchen and exclaims, “I could eat a horse!” We wouldn’t expect Mom to growl back. “Well, unfortunately for you, we only have spaghetti. No matter what I make you complain!” However, a couple told me this exact story as proof that their marriage was over.

Usually, hyperbole is a communication tool. It is a way to emphasize a point. But, when a person feels emotionally raw, hyperbole is a ticking bomb.

Comedians use hyperbole to shock laughter out of an audience. “My wife is so frigid, that when she opens her mouth a little light comes on.” That’s a funny line unless a couple is having problems in the bedroom and the husband tells this joke at a party. This hyperbolic joke could be interpreted as an emotional knife in her heart.

Many Thought Mines are hyperbolic. The intent of the statement or the interpretation by the listener, is what causes heartache. Hyperbole is a window into one’s feelings. By understanding the underlying feeling, you can learn to communicate more clearly.

Often, hyperbole within a troubled relationship (work or home) is seen as a character attack. “I work hard all day, is it too much to ask that you keep the damn kids quiet during dinner!” This type of statement is layered with hyperbole and implied wrongdoing. The kids are bad, the spouse is a bad mother, the husband does the most work and the wife’s work is not as important. Or, it could simply mean that Dad has a headache and needs a quiet room.

Other times, hyperbole within a troubled relationship is seen as a plea for pity. “My back was killing me while I was doing the dishes.”

This often is perceived as weakness and leads to a verbal attack by the other. These attacks are often focused on one word. “You’re saying I NEVER do the dishes! How dare you act as if you do EVERYTHING around here!”

These types of continual emotional Thought Mines often emotionally drain normally caring people.

More: Understanding Thought Mines

Thought Mines are social misreadings that get in the way of communicating clearly. They are thought stumbling blocks that allow us to misread, and often misjudge, the intention of others. By misreading others intentions, we can often get sidetracked from getting our needs met.

 

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