My father used to teach Defensive Driving, and he was adamant that there was no such thing as an “accident.”
The word accident is derived from the Latin verb “accidere,” signifying “fall upon, befall, happen, chance.” (TheFreeDictionary)
He said, “They are collisions. And there are reasons they happen: driver error, lack of attention, or distraction.” The course is called “Defensive” because it’s not your driving that you have to worry about; it’s the other person’s distracted or erroneous driving.
Misunderstandings are not accidents
Interpersonal misunderstandings are also not accidents; there are reasons they happen. Misunderstandings are partly due to our lazy, crazy language itself, which omits information and can appear to distort what actually is. For example, the word cup is not the cup. No words are ever what they point to, and that is how and why language, believed in as truth, as actuality, can lead us astray.
A “misunderstanding” sounds innocent, however our society is guilty of “mind-reads” which are the primary cause of misunderstandings. Mind reads are claiming that you know what another person is thinking or feeling, and they are not innocent. They come from you, not the other person, are based on your fears or judgments about the other, are usually negative, and feel bad. Acted upon, they can cause disruption, disharmony, and mistrust.
The question, “Why did you put that on the chair?” can be distorted into “You should not have put that on the chair.” Which, while feeling bad, can then become, “He doesn’t like what I did,” then, “He is controlling me,” or “He is being sarcastic,” then, “He always… or never…,” and thoughts continue deteriorating like a runaway train.
Notice that every subsequent thought has nothing to do with the chair, or the question. In fact, each subsequent thought has less and less to do with what is, with truth. No thought that hurts came from him. It came from within. It came from you. Believed in, one bad-feeling thought leads to uglier and uglier thoughts.
This reminds me of a powerful childhood game called “telephone.” The first child sitting in a circle whispers a sentence into one child’s ear, and it gets passed this way from ear-to-ear. By the time it returns to the first child, it in no way resembles the original sentence, is unintelligible, and is therefore often surprising and hilarious. The only reason it does not become ugly like adult mind reads do is because it is a fun game, and the children are innocent.
Why do we mind read?
We mind read because…
1) People are lazy, and our use of language enables laziness. People often don’t complete sentences, nor share the rest of their thought, so we are left to fill in the blank. Any thing, or partial thing, can be said or thought. Any thing can be imagined to be true.
2) People don’t share their purpose for their statements or actions. What could be possible reasons someone would ask why I put something on a chair? My first mind read was: They didn’t like what I did, and we being sarcastic. Other ones can include:
- they are wondering if I put it there for anyone to take, have, or use;
- they wanted to sit in the chair and it’s in their way;
- they are wondering what I am up to.
You could probably come up with additional possibilities. This actually happened to me, and the truth was, they wondered if I put it there so nobody could sit there, because perhaps there was something wrong with the chair. That blew my mind! I would have never thought of that. In my model of the world, that is not what I would do with a broken chair, but I could see someone doing it. The contrast between how innocent their truth was, and how ugly my first mind read was, was stark, and shocking.
Okay, so the current situation is that everyone mind reads, and that is not so much a problem, if you know that everyone mind reads. Then you can do things to avoid misunderstandings, but unlike automobile collisions, it’s not just the others’ erroneous mind reads you have to watch; you especially have to watch for yours.
The day that I finally done with mind reads is a funny story I often tell in workshops and presentations. Now I urge everyone to give these up completely, starting yesterday.
How to avoid misunderstandings
- Ask yourself: “What else could be true? And what else?
- Give up all your own mind reads
- Ask people for more information
- Ask people for their purpose or how they feel (Never ask “why,” it implies judgement and just shuts people down.)
- Detach from all your perceived needs, so there’s no need to mind read
Practice quelling your own mind reads, detaching, and how to deal with the mind reads of others to maintain harmony.
Learn How to Deal with the Mind Reads of Yourself and Others
The best place to get hands-on, personal mind read transformation, detachment, and personal mastery is by joining a live Inner Peace and Happiness Workshop.
Click here: Next workshop,
Sunday, Nov. 16th, 2014 – Ottawa