I’ve talked before about my tendency to experience mind-reading as a cognitive distortion, i.e. thinking that I know what others are thinking. I also do the reverse; I expect those close to me to know when something’s wrong. The problem is, they’re no better at mind-reading than I am.
I feel like I’m not very subtle. When things aren’t good, I think I leave some fairly obvious clues. But am I a reliable source? Or am I falling more on the clueless doofus end of the spectrum? Inspector Gadget is what’s jumping to mind, although I suppose he was the one trying to sort out the clues rather than leaving them, and perhaps this whole paragraph is a complete load of crap.
Someone in my life knew that recently I was expecting a negative result to come out of something. That negative outcome did happen, but this person didn’t ask any follow-up questions. Being avoidant as I often tend to be, I wasn’t volunteering any information. But I left signs that things weren’t good. And either my clues sucked, or this person’s perception was crap, or perhaps both, but the message didn’t get through. That starts me thinking that this person expects me to support them, but isn’t willing to support me, and so on, and so forth down the rabbit hole.
I get that it’s unrealistic for people to magically know what’s bothering us. But is it unreasonable to expect them to be sufficiently in tune to figure out that something’s up? I don’t know where I stand on this, because part of me says yes and part of me (perhaps the more reasonable part) says no. I’m very selective about who I choose to let in, so it kind of feels like they should get me, but past experience would tell me that’s just not the case. Which leaves me in a position where I should expect to have to actually say what’s on my mind, and that makes me run far in the other direction.
Moral of the story, I guess, is that when my mind is sufficiently messed up that even I can’t tell what’s going on in there, I shouldn’t expect anyone else to figure it out either.
The CBT Fundamentals mini-ebook, available from the MH@H Download Centre, provides an introduction to cognitive behavioural therapy concepts along with workbook exercises.