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See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
1. MIND-READING (M-R)
a. OFFICIAL Meaning
This is one of the many Cognitive Distortions (CDs) that plague ACoA & alcoholic thinking: “… an arbitrary conclusion that someone is thinking or reacting negatively to you, without any real evidence… often going contrary to what the other person actually says and does, and is almost always pessimistic in nature…”
• This CD is fundamentally a projection of our IC’s self-hate or the critical voice of our Negative Introject. It is an example of narcissism, which allows the IC to conclude we are the same as the other person, so — if I think & feel a certain way, so will you!
Wikipedia: Psychological projection is a defense mechanism whereby a person unconsciously denies their own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, or to other people…. it reduces anxiety by allowing a form of expression of the unwanted / unacceptable (unconscious) impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize those needs & wishes.
➼ Mind-reading is completely about US – not
about the person or group we’re referring to.
Because of that, we insure staying disconnected from the rest of humanity, which reinforces our sense of alienation. ACoAs are notorious for believing ‘We don’t belong anywhere’, even when in a room full of other ACoAs!
M-R comes from:
• our fear of separateness – if we ‘know’ what someone is thinking then we are joined (symbiotic) & can stave off the bitter loneliness of the IC
• knowing from experience that our parents did not love us unconditionally & so assume everyone else will feel the same towards us
• growing up in families where emotional & mental honesty was missing, so we had to guess at what others were thinking or feeling
• needing to protect ourselves at all times from the ‘dangerous’ world
• not being taught how to gather info correctly, we make up things. We’re not allowed to ask AND assume we won’t get the truth anyway
• trying to figure out how to behave (if I believe I know what you’re thinking I can adjust my actions accordingly)
✧ S-H becomes “Nobody likes me”
✧ FoA becomes “She would never spend time with me”
✧ paranoia becomes “I know they’re talking about me”
✧ fear of rejection becomes “She’ll too busy to help me”
✧ perfectionism becomes “They all thought my _____ was awful”
✧ lack of boundaries becomes “The boss expects me to be just like her!”
Me, me, me! It completely erases others, as if they didn’t have separate identities, minds of their own OR had other things to think about besides us!
EXP: Paul sits anxiously in a 12-step meeting, raising his hand but not getting called on. He’s convinced the speaker is deliberately avoiding him – “he must not want to hear what I have to say… he doesn’t like me… he thinks he’s better than me…”, so Paul sits & fumes.
➼ Reality: If Paul had asked the speaker about this, he would have been told: “I’m sorry, I saw your hand, but just didn’t get to you. It’s so hard to pick – you want to include everyone, but there’s just not enough time.”
EXP: If your therapist yawns or seems distracted – you assume he / she is bored with you. Or if you get invited to a dinner party, you’re sure they only invited you along to make up the seating numbers.
➼ Reality: you’re therapist was up all nite with a sick child or writing their blog! :), & you were invited to dinner because the hostess likes you & knows you’ll be a great addition!
EXP of NOT mind-reading:
I taught my 12-week ACoA course “Knowledge is Power” over 10 years. Reaction from students varied widely in every class. Some listened intently, taking notes & asking questions. Others fidgeted, yawned, fell asleep, got mad, or stopped coming. Regarding the latter group – IF I had used the classic form of mind-reading, I would have assumed that even tho’ some students seem interested, the ‘disinterested’ people indicated the ‘truth’ – that I was a boring speaker, gave complicated or worthless info & generally wasted their time – the LIE that the bad voice whispers!
➼ However, I KNOW I’m a good teacher, that my material is important & useful, & have been told by many students that the course greatly improved their lives. I also know that some people were very tired (especially being an evening class), some had ADD & so usually have trouble sitting still for 2-3 hours, but most of all – the class material brought up a lot of difficult awarenesses & intense pain, so that some people just wanted to opt out. So their seeming lack of interest was ALSO a validation of my work! So there – PP! See – Little One??
CONTINUING this kind of M-R keeps us:
• Internally – attached to our dangerous family // anxious & needing to isolate
• Externally – suspicious of everyone’s motives // missing out on all the good people & opportunities that present themselves
SO: Once we clearly know an un-recovered person’s toxic pattern from many painful encounters, it’s time to stop giving them the ‘benefit of the doubt’! How many more times do we need to be hit over the head?
NEXT: MIND-READING vs Intuition – 1b