I am writing to you today from sunny South Africa and believe me, there’s no better time to talk about Mindtrap #4 than when you are in a different culture. Have you ever had the experience of someone not returning your call or email for a longer time than you would like? What tends to go through your head… that they are ignoring you or perhaps you have done something to offend them… then they call and tell you how they’ve been away or sooo busy with work. Whatever it is, we spend a whole lot of time on this Mindtrap… Mindreading… and usually it’s a waste of time.
I remember a number of years ago being in a shop where the salesgirl was extra rude and extra impatient when I asked for help.. after all, that’s what they’re paid for isn’t it? After I checked out, huffing and puffing and vowing never to return, I gathered myself outside the store. There I overheard a couple of women talking and realized after a time that they were talking about the salesclerk… single mother… disabled child…. no support… how does she do it? This conversation was meant for me to hear I thought. Ashamed, I was struck again by the mantra “Never assume you know what is going on for someone else. Ever.” I judge. We all judge. Most often, our judgements are wrong. We can never guess from the millions of options what another person is thinking or what their life experience has been.
It brings to mind Don Miguel Ruiz’ 2nd agreement from his book ‘The Four Agreements’: Never take things personally. “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” If you think about it, how we behave is based on so many things.. how much sleep we got, how we’re feeling, what our beliefs and personal histories are… how could we ever predict how someone else might think?
So, reading anyone’s mind lately? Expand your options, think “Maybe yes, maybe no”.
And remember…. Nothing is Personal… repeat… Nothing is Personal.