It would be shameful if somehow I gained the ability to count all of the times I have said (or thought), “My husband feels like xyz,” or “He thinks xyz,” about me. I have this amazing ability to mind read; I know, I know, you are all jealous, right? And yet somehow, most of what I believe to be his genuine feelings are not at all what he actually feels. I have convinced myself that I know his thoughts and motivations better than even he does! I am pretty sure that I’m not the only person who thinks they know what their spouse thinks about everything. As funny as it sounds, it’s actually a dangerous thing to do. We don’t want to act on false belief that our spouse (or friends, family, neighbors, even strangers) are thinking negative thoughts about us.
Psychologists have done research on this type of “mind reading,” and have concluded that even with long-married couples, there was only an average of 35% accuracy. That’s a slim number! If we apply this to our marriages and relationships with others, this means that we could be living 65% of our lives in erroneous thinking. That is nearly seven thoughts in every ten thoughts that you have believed about how your spouse felt, without verifying for truth, that were wrong. That’s far too many times I have probably reacted by being snippy or angry, or even been hurt by something I thought my husband was thinking! Seven times we could have gotten along just fine, but I injected my own meaning into what he thought.
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:15
Wisdom suggests that we stop thinking for other people, and only think for ourselves. When we have a thought cross our mind saying, “So and so thinks this about you,” we must stop and seek out the truth behind it. This also goes for not reacting to situations without seeking to fully understand the thoughts and motivation behind them. This keeps us from causing more stress and strife when it might not even be warranted. Don’t create hostility where there is none by deciding what someone else is thinking; instead be patient, ask for clarity, and react calmly and gently.
We have to seek to understand someone else just as much as we hope to be fully understood by them.
Do you ever find yourself being upset about something that you think someone else feels about you, especially if they have not actually said it?
How can you remind yourself of the wisdom in Proverbs when you are feeling offended by something not spoken?