Anger Triggers: ‘Mind Reading’

Frequently it is not the event itself that provokes us but what we decide the other involved person is thinking or feeling about us.

When someone behaves in a manner that is against our ‘rules’ we arbitrarily decide that we ‘know’ their motives. We decide that we are able to read their minds.

For example: when a car overtakes us we get angry because we ‘know’ that the driver is looking down on us or thinks he/she is better than us in some way. If someone turns up late for a meeting we get angry because we ‘know’ they do not respect us. If someone in our family misunderstands us we get angry because we ‘know’ they are doing it deliberately.

No need to ask… I know…

In such cases we don’t bother to ask them what, exactly, they are thinking or feeling at the time. After all why should we? We decide that if they truly cared about, respected, loved us they would live according to our rules – or they would ‘know’ that their behaviour was going to upset us and not do it.

This kind of warped thinking may seem humorous when read in cold print but is frequently the kind of thinking that goes on in those moments when we are simmering and coming to the anger boil.

It occurs through lack of self-awareness – we get into the habit and it becomes our normal way of thinking. Then it’s as if there is a mental programme running in the background which guesses what a person is thinking, decides that they feel negative toward us, and then starts up our anger motor.