Thought Mine #12: Judging

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 #12: Judging

Also called:



Having a fixed, critical view of self or others. Often using should have, should not have, ought to, must, mustn’t, never, have to, could have, or you better, to make a statement rigid and seemingly factual.

Negative self-talk example:

“If he loved me he would have called already.”

Couple example:

“You should have called me as soon as you knew.”

“You ought to respect me, I’m your wife!”

Teen example:

“If you don’t like my attitude, you shouldn’t have pissed me off.”

“You better get off my back, or I’ll …”

Work/school example:

“You have to give me a “C”, my parents will kill me if I get a “D” in this stupid class.”

“You never think about how that affects me!”


As I tell my kids, the shouldas, the wouldas, and the couldas, are not famous tribes. They are verbal ways we give ourselves permission to fail. Often, should have, should not have, ought to, lead to ultimatums and emotional friction. Fixed critical views of others make them feel unappreciated.

Robin was a smart young man who sought my help because he knew he pushed others away. He worked as a computer programmer at a large company. He had no social life.


Robin: I like people, but they don’t seem to like me. I see others joke and talk, but I don’t seem to be able to find that. In high school and collage I just figured that I wasn’t liked because I was good at school. All the people I work with are intelligent and seem to have friends, but not me.

Dr. Phil: Any idea about how you’re pushing people away?

Robin: Why do you assume that I’m at fault? Must it be my fault?

Dr. Phil: I’m not looking for fault; I’m just starting a conversation about your relationships.

Robin: I think that others don’t give me a chance. Colleagues never invite me out socially, but they have no problem interrupting me and wanting help with their projects.

Dr. Phil: Do you invite others out socially?

Robin: I shouldn’t have to. If they wanted me to attend their activity they should invite me.

Dr. Phil: How is that rigid view on social activity working for you?

Robin: Do you think I’m rigid? Are you simply rude, or insensitive?


Over the next month, Robin and I practiced socially acceptable ways to get him more invitations. By the end of the second month, Robin became open minded to the idea of inviting others out for coffee or lunch. At four months, Robin started dating. His life went from all work to a balance of mostly work and some play. Robin told me that, “The distraction of friends helps my work.”

I find that encouraging others to make good choices helps a lot. By advocating for good choices for others, and ourselves, we bring caring people around us and encourage cooperation and kindness

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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