What, you can’t read my mind?!?

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 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.

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24 thoughts on “What, you can’t read my mind?!?

  1. Marie Abanga says:

    So sorry Ashley. Maybe you could just outright try to start telling them and see if they urge you to talk as the listen attentively and with emapthy? that way you wouldn’t have to second guess if they got any of your clues or not…Nothing ain’t easy darling…what can I say to help further?

  2. Luftmentsch says:

    It could be that they understood you had an issue, but didn’t know how you wanted them to respond. If you wanted space or something more proactive.

    I get like this about people around me and I think a lot of the time they don’t notice anything wrong and if they do, they don’t know how I want them to respond. Half the time even I don’t know how I want them to respond!

  3. seedsinthewasteland says:

    Yes. This. I have had to train myself to realise that not everyone thinks the way I do, and wouldn’t necessarily expect certain things to mean whatever I think they do, or understand what a bad day/time really *means* for me. Regardless, it’s frustrating as hell and it’s not always easy to remember these sensible things, is it?

  4. s.e. taylor says:

    I often feel the same. I make an effort to ask people follow up questions, but others don’t seem to always do that. I’m not sure why. Maybe they think we don’t want to talk about it if we don’t bring it up. My “clues” must suck too, lol

    • ashleyleia says:

      It’s a good thing I don’t have myself as a friend, because my memory is crap and there are definitely times I forget to ask follow-up questions. I guess I need to remind myself of that more often…

      • s.e. taylor says:

        I forget things sometimes too. I’ve literally made a list of stuff to ask before making a phone call. My problem is once a conversation gets sidetracked I lose my train of thought to remember to ask about stuff. I think the most important thing is to ask questions while someone is talking about something. It not only shows interest but can help them (or me) open up more.

  5. suninthespring says:

    Maybe when you’re in a good state of mind you can have a conversation where you tell them what your clues are so that they know what to look for. I’ve done this in bits and pieces, and while it makes me feel more vulnerable and exposed, it also helps me get more help when I need it.

  6. Meg says:

    I have this problem all the time, too. And there are so many complications with it.

    I’ll play Devil’s advocate for whoever’s in your life, because with me:

    1) If people tell me something might go wrong on a given day, my memory is so pitiful that the day can come and go without my remembering I should’ve checked in then.
    2) There can be a pull to be like, “Oh, she’s acting tough, so maybe I shouldn’t be all nice about it, or she might burst into tears.”
    3) There can be a fear like, “Maybe it isn’t my place to pry or to make her feel worse.”

    Sometimes people are clueless, but in funny ways. I told the guy I like once, “I’m feeling down. Can you send a kind word?” And he wrote back: “Kind.” You can’t make this stuff up. That was so funny, though, that I immediately felt better.

  7. marandarussell says:

    I can relate. I was just talking to my therapist about how even though I consider myself a person with a lot of empathy, that sometimes I think that empathy might be off a bit because when I try to imagine how other people feel or think, I can’t help but project how I would feel or think in whatever given situation, and I realize that what I feel or think may not at all be what others feel or think given similar issues.

  8. Revenge of Eve says:

    I am fluent in mind reading. I was gifted it at a young age. Lol … Jk.
    But I get what you mean, especially when we drop clues. It is hard because we sometimes aren’t sure of what we want to be said. I’m a standoffish person, therefore, others tend to be when they are around me. Even those I am close too. I hope you are able to discuss this with someone soon.

  9. easetheride says:

    I identify with this. I do it too; I want them to ask because I find that their asking is indicative of their caring about me. When they don’t ask, I take it personally. It’s been helpful to remind myself that not everything is personal, and the person might just be in their own world with their own problems, trying to respect my space, or just not as intuitive as I believe myself to be. Still, I deal with the feelings of them not understanding or noticing the way I want them to as “unjust.” So should we expect them to be in tune with us? I think it’s okay to hope for it and be disappointed when they don’t, but my wise mind also reminds me that sometimes I have to accept that what I feel is ideal or fair isn’t always real life.

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