I have talked about how when we deal with other people, we are really just dealing with their reality. The flip side of idea is that when we are dealing with ourselves, we are dealing with our reality.
Practically what this means is that we are constantly making assumptions based on our experience and creating a reality in our own minds, which may or may not reflect the true reality of the situation.
Where this comes to play in our daily lives is in mind-reading. This is the practice of assuming we know what someone is thinking or feeling. Of course, we do it all the time, just not realizing we are doing it.
The danger is that often, the other party isn’t thinking or feeling what we think they are thinking or feeling, resulting in miscommunication – which is bad in human relationships. We might be fighting battles that don’t need to exist, or assuming that things are great, when they really aren’t.
So what should the astute person do? How can they know what the other person is thinking or feeling?
Well, honestly, we can’t.
However, there are some tools at our disposal that can put us as close as possible.
The first tool involves listening. Just listening to what is said, and not reading our own thoughts into things.
From there, we need to ensure that we are creating relationships with people we see through outside verification that are honest. That way, we minimize the chance that they are manipulating what they say for their own gain.
Finally, we need to look at their actions, and see if they are in line with what they proport their feelings to be.
If the other party passes all three tests – for lack of a better word – we can more-or-less safely assume that what has been said is what is meant, and not need to assume our own thoughts on the other party.