Thought Mine #7: Mind Reading

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 #7: Mind Reading

Also called:



Irrational concern about what the other person thinks about you.

Making negative assumptions about another’s thoughts or motives. Assuming that others think or feel the same way you do. Especially about negative thoughts or impulses.

Negative self-talk example:

“He thinks I’m talking too much.”

Couple example:

“You know that you only think of me as your sex toy!”

Teen example:

“My parents hate me. They just have to say they love me because it’s a law or something.”

Work/school example:

“They never ask me to go to lunch because they know I didn’t go to college.”


Often individuals who mind read see in others the negative thoughts, feelings, or impulses that they are personally fighting to control. An example of this would be a mother who constantly harps on her daughter about food choices when she herself harbors a desire to lose weight. Mind reading pushes people away.

It is usually best to deal with mind reading head on. Point out the fact that it is inappropriate to muck around in someone else’s thoughts, and that it is impossible to do so. Worrying about another’s thoughts is a personal distraction and a waste of energy.

It doesn’t matter what people think … only what they do. Words count a little; actions count a lot. It is best to judge others by their actions. Time spent believing that you know what anyone is thinking is a waste of your time. A patient with AIDS told me, “I now understand that you never know someone else’s sexual history, no matter what you may believe.”

Spend your time focusing on clearly observing behaviors if you want to begin to know another person. (And assume you still know very little.) It is often simplest to ask about someone’s thoughts. Most people love to talk about themselves, and what is more about them, than their thoughts.

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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