Things happen… you aren’t invited to lunch, someone turns down your invitation, someone is not as excited about an event as you are, you do not get the job, etc. How do we handle that?
This story was adapted from my high school english teacher and depicts the tendency we have to “mind read” and make assumptions about people’s actions that are not only inaccurate, but hurtful.
When I was 17, graduation was around the corner. Prom was a few weeks ahead and I had my eye on Jane Smith. I got up the courage to ask her to prom and she said No.
I thought, “Ah, man, she doesn’t feel the same way about me. I’m ugly. Nobody is going to say yes.” So I just dropped the whole idea of going to prom.
At the ten year reunion, I got to talking with Jane and she was being very friendly. I brought up prom and joked about how she turned me down. She grabbed my arm and said, “I was so disappointed! I was grounded from a party the weekend before.”
I had spent the last 10 years with this deep belief that I was ugly and nobody would say yes to a date with me.
The story above illustrates the thinking error of “mind reading” or assuming we know the reason for people’s actions. Technically, you are telling yourself something that is not only negative, but untrue. The consequences of this error can be long lasting and deeply effect our ability to appreciate and take full advantage of present opportunities.
Attributing reason for events when
there may not be any specific reason or when
the reason is not anything we could truly know can lead to unnecessary negative thinking.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to acknowledge that you do not know the reason for the event, give it to the Lord and refocus your mind on the present.
If you must make up a reason- at least let it be spun toward the positive (ex: she said no to the date because she was intimidated by your good looks!) 😉