Mind Reading Cognitive Distortion. How to Stop Mind Reading?

Written by: Arooj Paulus B. Sc (Applied Psychology)
Last updated date : January 31, 2023

Do you think that you know what others are thinking? You may be so sure sometimes that you make assumptions without checking on it that what others are thinking. For instance, you might think that others are judging you. This is called mind-reading which is a cognitive distortion. Let us learn about this negative thought pattern and how to stop mind reading mind-reading.

In this article, we will discuss the distorted thought pattern of mind-reading and ways to stop it with the help of cognitive-behavioral behavioral therapy (CBT). In the end, you will find some coping statements to help you think rationally.

“Quizzes and recommendations were very uselful” Donna

87 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use
$9.00 $12.00

25% discount


Chapter 1:

Is Mind Reading a Cognitive Distortion?

A cognitive distortion is a flawed or misleading thought, belief, or point of view. Negativity is its main theme. Distorted thinking is a brief glitch for some of us. As it can harm your work and personal life as well as your self-esteem. For instance, a person who thinks negatively is in a trap as he does not enjoy simple moments in life. He may think “why did that person help me?”, “there must be some bad intentions behind it”.
What Is Mind Reading?
Mind reading occurs when someone assumes to know what another person is thinking. For instance, your friend walks by you on the market but doesn’t greet you because he doesn’t see you. You can falsely assume that because he is ignoring you, he no longer likes you.

According to a study, mind reading is more prevalent in kids than in adults or teenagers, and it’s also linked to anxiety.

We do not know what the other person is thinking. So if you think that you know someone’s thoughts or intentions negatively, then it is mind-reading which is a cognitive distortion.

Chapter 2:

How to Stop Mind Reading?

1. Identify Your Mind Reading Thoughts
The first step is to identify the cognitive distortion. Negative mental processes like mind-reading come side by side with fears of all types. Pay attention to what you are generally thinking. Look for any theme in thoughts such as it may be a lingering fear of something e.g. rejection. Mind-reading worsens existing fears and sends unpleasant signals to your body.

Example: For instance, your partner is indifferent one evening because they are really upset from receiving criticism at the job. The way you interpret their silence makes you upset. You may think “He or she is upset with me” or “He or she does not love me anymore”.

This example shows a mind-reading cognitive distortion. Identifying it is the first step toward fixing the problem. We can take another instance that if you constantly think to impress others it may be a sign that you have a fear of rejection.

2. Observe Your Thoughts
The next step is to observe your thoughts and the symptoms with them. There may be physical symptoms associated with the negative thought such as increased breathing, sweating or heart-pounding, etc. Mental signs may include anger, hostility, sadness, anxiety, etc. While behavioral signs may include avoidance, social withdrawal, etc.

By knowing the signs of your negative thought you can easily identify if you are mind-reading by linking negative signs with it. Validate if your feelings e.g. racing heart is justified with feeling? When you will be able to observe and identify exaggerated signs you will realize that the thought is irrational.

Exercise: You can keep a notebook and keep a record of your upsetting thoughts. For instance,

For example, what, where, when, and with whom did it happen? E.g. a friend did not say hi and passed by you.
What were you thinking? E.g. They do not like me.
Feeling and Its Intensity (1-10)
What did it feel like? E.g. you feel angry (9/10). This will help you to identify your cognitive distortions which we will challenge and modify.
3. Challenge Your Thought
Know that our core beliefs lead to what we think and how we see the world. Fearing all the time is not rational. Rethink. Are you making wise judgments?

Exercise: See the thought journal which we made to note the thoughts and feelings. Pick a negative thought and ask yourself the following:

For instance, the thought is “They do not like me”.

  • How this thought affects me?
  • What can happen if they think like me?
  • Can somebody’s views about me lessen my value?

This technique will help you to think positively in a difficult situation by considering different angles and solutions to a problem.

4. Replace It with a Positive Thought
Once you know the cause and your negative thought you know that it is unhealthy. So replace it with a healthy one. Such as “What if they did not see me while I overreacted?”.

Further, you can look for evidence of your thought. Look for the points in favor and points against the thought and then contrast them. For instance, remember the time when that person greeted you warmly or helped you. Try to replace your mind-reading thought with a positive one such as, “No worry if he did not see, I will greet him” or “This will not make me less of a person”.

In conclusion, we suggest practicing some coping statements. Which will help you to stay positive in a difficult situation. Let us look at some of the coping statements as follows:

  • I know my worth.
  • I am capable.
  • I will never please everyone, no matter what I do.

Read the materials listed below for more help.

Chapter 3:

Call to Action

You can read “Stop Blaming Others and Externalizing Behaviors” or “Jumping to Conclusions in Relationships: How to Avoid It”, under the section on thinking traps at Epsychonline. To help learn about negative thought patterns and how to stop them.

Further, you can enroll in the “DBT for Social Anxiety“ and “Managing Irrational Beliefs (IBs)” courses on our website. If you tend to read minds and make assumptions, social anxiety is likely to be prevalent. Further, irrational beliefs and thoughts make us see things from a typical view. The mentioned courses will help you to manage your negative thinking styles and stop mind-reading.

We hope this article was helpful to you. Sign up now for more learning

"Quizzes and recommendations were very uselful" Donna

87 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount