Imagine this scenario: Sitting in a room is a group of people from many backgrounds. What links them is that they are all interested in learning. Gradually, one by one, they share what they want to achieve from the time together. One of them is sitting there looking uncomfortable. A slight pink deepens on their face and they gaze to the ground, avoiding eye contact. What is going on in their head is this: “They were all expecting loads from me and now they are wondering why I am here – I feel such a fraud – in fact they think I am a fraud. I feel so stupid. They all think I’m stupid – Argh I am stupid… Oh, I so wish the floor could swallow me up”.
And the thoughts carry on – mind reading what others think.
If you think about it – being a mind reader is such an amazing skill. To be able to sit there and mind read what other people are thinking – incredible!
So are you a mind reader? Are you able to decipher what people are thinking about you? So many of us think we can mind read. In fact the above scenario is the typical inner dialogue that I had just last year when I had a period of doubt and insecurity.
Even now, occasionally I get caught out by my thoughts making up random stories. At a recent Confidence Workshop one of the participants got up and walked out of the room to get a drink. In my head I made up that she wasn’t engaged in the workshop and I started to feel concern. A moment later I realised I’d been hoodwinked by the illusion of my thinking…I shared this with the group…the lady looked at me incredulously and we all had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of my thinking!
Perhaps you get anxious about what others think about you and then make up stories in your head– belittling yourself worrying about your body image and intelligence.
A client recently was suffering from this same thing. “Are other people really spending all their time thinking about you?” When I said this to her, she burst out laughing (my clients and I often have a good laugh). She suddenly had an insight and realised how egotistical she was being. “It’s all about ME!! – everyone is spending their precious time thinking about me – Wow that is so self-centred”. I loved her sense of humour and how she fondly mocked herself….and what a great transformation. Since then she has shared with me:
“I have become more confident and no longer worry about what a person’s opinion may or may not be about me. Unless they actually tell me, I have absolutely no idea. I now can’t wait to start my next chapter in my life.”
It does seem that this egotistical mind reading causes so much worry and anxiety…and it’s becoming an epidemic, especially with young people. At a recent Confidence Inside Out Workshop I ran for Teenage girls, this was the number 1 issue that they all suffered from. And here’s the thing – this mind reading – it is all an illusion and ALL MADE UP! We see something that isn’t there and make it personal – we believe others are thinking about us – when they may even be thinking that we’d thinking about them!!
This way of thinking means that we are turning ourselves into puppets, imagining that the outside world can pull our emotional strings. It is not the outside world that causes the pain and anxiety –that is an illusion, a misconception. It is our thinking – which we do to ourselves.
I have never come across someone who can really mind read – even Derren Brown the amazing illusionist cannot really mind read, he uses clever generalist statements and watches tiny micro-muscle movements to know when to expand certain statements. (If you really can mind read, please let me know!!)
If you think about is (no pun intended) we have 50,000+ thoughts in a day like waves of the ocean, flowing through, and then one of those many thought pings into our consciousness. The problems arise when we:
The thinking isn’t the problem – we are thinkers – we always have thoughts and we always will. Thought is a just a tool – that’s it – an amazing tool to direct us through life – to have human experience. So use it wisely and please don’t take it too seriously!
Let’s stop this epidemic of made up mind-reading and snap those puppet strings…
Lindsey Reed is an experienced international coach and trainer who enables people to understand their thought process, overcome anxiety, transform their lives and be their best selves. If you would like to work with Lindsey, contact her either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01832 280168 for a chat to see if she is the right coach for you. (121 coaching is either face to face / telephone / skype)