If I could read your mind love. What a tale your thoughts could tell. ~ Gordon Lightfoot
I have not shared what is my favorite of Dr. David Burns concept of twisted thinking styles that many of us with stress, anxiety, depression or C-PTSD practice. This is the concept that we believe that we can Mind Read. What do I mean by that? Imagine you say or do something and then you start with your mind thinking “because I did that, this person now thinks…”
How can you possibly have reached into that person’s mind and know what they think. But you have already come to that conclusion and now might change your behavior or even stop associating with that person(s), because you believe you know what they think. Guess what? YOU DON’T.
Dr. Burns describes the issue in the following way:
Jumping to Conclusions: Interpreting the meaning of a situation with little or no
- Mind Reading: Interpreting the thought sand beliefs of others without adequate
evidence. “She would not go on a date with me. She probably thinks I’m ugly.”
- Fortune Telling: The expectation that a situation will turn out badly without
I just talked to a person this week that explained their actions to me. They felt they were friends with the office mate who shared an office with them. They started by talking a lot. Then, one day, the other person stopped talking to this person. The person I talked to then did this “mind reading” issue as they were also the victim of bullying and had developed this twisted thinking style. Because they had it, they started messing with the other person’s computer at work.
So think about it? Yes, maybe this other person all of a sudden stopped wanting to talk to my friend, the person I talked to. But I also thought about the idea that my friend’s office mate might have been going through a rough time and could have been depressed and just stopped talking. There could be lots of reasons why they stopped talking. But, by jumping to conclusions, my friend took it personally and it twisted him up inside. He figured the other person was bullying him as was done to him in the past.
This is why you have to stop mind reading or jumping to conclusions. This was just him messing with a computer. But what if he took it further. What if it got violent. Don’t think it can happen? It does and we need to learn to worry about ourselves and not what others are thinking.
This isn’t easy if we have developed thinking problems from years of abuse or twisted thinking. I know I did it all the time when I was feeling a lot of anxiety and depression. Dr. Burn’s book “Feeling Good” showed me these twisted thinking issues and I want to share them with you now. I learned so much on stopping this thinking. You will need help to do so, but it’s good to realize this is not thinking that will help you. It will only create angst and anger and you can live a better life by giving that up. I hope you might consider that if you are guilty of being a “jump to conclusion” person.
Would you like to share your story here with others? I am looking for other writers to share their stories about bullying, and overcoming abuse here if you want to. Send an email with your story to me at email@example.com. Make sure to put “my story” in the subject line. Let me know how you would like your name to appear in the story (if at all). I will contact you and work out the details from there. I would be honored to share your story here. ~Alan Eisenberg