Are You A Mind-Reader?

by Annie Kaszina on September 25, 2011

Have you ever wanted to do something really quite small, and not dared to?

That was exactly how Simona felt.  The really interesting thing is what stopped her.  It might be the same thing that’s been stopping you, too.

Simona wasn’t thinking about travelling halfway round the world on a whim, leaving her babies in the care of strangers.  She wasn’t planning on giving up her job, and her security, for some hare-brained idea.  She just fancied going to a concert.

She wanted to see someone whose music she’d loved ever since she’d been able to hold a hairbrush to her mouth and sing along.

But she didn’t think she could.

Why not?

Because she had nobody to go with that night.

“What makes that such a big problem?” I asked her, in my attempt to understand.  Was the concert in a neighbourhood from which no lone woman had ever emerged alive?  Did she have to be half of a couple to gain admission?  Was she too old?  Or too young?

No.

The reason why she couldn’t go was this: she knew what the other people at the concert would be thinking.

I’m guessing you know, too.

What they would be thinking was this: “Look at that woman over there.  She’s on her own.  What a loser!!”

Does that sound familiar? 

Okay.  So, think about this for a moment.  She wanted to go to a pop concert where, you’d think, most people would be focused on the music, and the excitement, rather than scanning the venue for Simona, our Lone-Woman-At-The-Concert, so they could judge her.

You see, this isn’t really about the pop concert.

Or even Simona.

It’s about the power you give Other People in your life.

Other people have been judging you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper.  You know that because your parents, most likely, taught you about Other People at a tender age.

(Sometimes, I wish I had the free time in my life that Other People seem to have, to spend judging the World as the World goes by.  Not that I want to spend it being part of Other People.)

Other people are still a fixture in your life, are they not?  They’re like a Greek chorus, constantly present on your stage, constantly commenting on what you do, and what you don’t do.  And they’re unfailingly negative about you.

That’s part of the job description of Other People.

Simona knows a LOT about Other People.

But, as we discovered, she didn’t know as much as she thought she did.

I asked her a few questions about Other People, and here’s what I learned.

  • She didn’t know what Other People looked like.  She didn’t know whether they would be older than her, or younger than her.  She didn’t know whether they would look fairly normal, or have pointy heads, or ears like Yoda.
  • She didn’t know where they came from, or where they were going to.
  • She wasn’t too sure about their gender.
  • She didn’t know too much about their socio-economic background.
  • She didn’t know about their ethnicity.
  • She didn’t know how many of them there were, or if they shared a dress code.
  • She didn’t know terribly much about their values – except to say they were not her values.
  • She didn’t know about their musical taste.
  • And she didn’t know why they would be wasting time at an event they had paid to attend focusing on her.

In short, she didn’t know anything at all about Other People.  All she did know, from time immemorial, was that Other People would be judging her.

By now, she was laughing at the absurdity of it.

Life always presents us with enough difficulties, so that we don’t need to go looking for more.

I’ve no doubt you have enough difficulties right now…

Without adding Other People to the list.

Of course, there are specific negative others in your life – like your abusive (ex) partner, and perhaps family members also.

We both know that these people see themselves as spearheading vast armies of Other People.

But is it true?

Or, are you mindreading?  Like Simona was.

Is it just possible that, like Simona, you could be making things harder for yourself by telling yourself what Other People must be thinking?  When the reality is the World at large does not constitute your abuser’s Reserve Army of Heavy Duty Nasties.

Your abusive (ex)partner is, undoubtedly, a Heavy Duty Nasty.    And he’s someone you need to learn to deal with effectively.

But you’re wasting your time trying to defend yourself from Other People.  Other People are simply your projection.

Previous post:

Next post: