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CBT

Jealousy

Depression

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Conflict

Self-efficacy

Happiness

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Motivation

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POPULAR ARTICLES

Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

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Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

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RECENT ARTICLES

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What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

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7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?



NEW AUDIOS

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

Day of Fishing Mindfulness

Audio Version of Article: Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

All Audio Articles

March 10, 2017       
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Don't Assume You Know What Others Are Thinking and Feeling

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Each One Of Us Sees In Others What We Carry In Our Own Hearts Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is hard not to project your thoughts and feelings on to other people. I find myself doing it even with my cats: “Beef doesn't seem appetizing to me in the morning so I'm going to feed you the chicken.” What does how I feel about what I eat have to do with my cats' food? Nothing. But, if you buy food for a pet, have you noticed all the choices? Cats are carnivores so why do they create food with carrots and rice in it? Because it sounds good to the human: “'White chicken with carrots in gravy'—oh, yum, a nice chicken stew, I think my cats would enjoy that.”

Or, how about mothers instructing their children “Put on a coat” because the mother feels cold and assumes the child will be cold, too? “Don't argue with me! Just put on a coat.”

Certainly, these instances may be fairly benign but the problem is that we tend to make assumptions about how other people feel and think based upon how we feel and think. And in some situations we are not merely wrong but we can be destructive.

In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) this tendency is referred to as a mind-reading error which is the belief that you know what someone else thinks or feels. When you act upon that assumption and it is wrong, problems can occur in the relationship. For instance, people may make accusations based on their assumptions: “I know you think my idea is stupid—you're such a critical person!” or “You would rather be with her than with me.”

Often what a person sees in others is their own thoughts and feelings reflected back at them. If they are self-critical, they believe others are critical of them. If they are insecure, they believe others couldn't possibly like them or consider them competent.

An important part of training to be a psychologist is to base analysis of clients on evidence, not on personal internal experience. I had to learn to recognize when I was making an assumption based upon my personal biases and, instead, listen to what clients told me about their experiences.

The same can be applied to personal relationships. The more you understand yourself, especially your shortcomings or weaknesses, the more you can understand other people as they truly are rather than through inaccurate assumptions.

** A note about the accompanying photo: Jimsonweed, a member of the nightshade family of plants, can be beautiful with its showy flowers that open only at night or fatal if ingested.



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