Jumping to Conclusions: Mind Reading & Predictive Thinking

Unhelpful thinking styles are well known, widely recognised, ways in which the way we think can create problems for us. We all pretty much to all of them. When we use them too much we create problems for ourselves.

Unhelpful thinking styles are a problem when they produce an unwanted emotion – depression or anxiety. When there is pattern in the thinking that leads to the unwanted emotion is an unhelpful thinking style. When they happen we can notice a HOT thought. Watch for the hot thoughts!

Jumping to conclusions

Humans are really, really, good at doing this. It’s a short cut way of thinking which can cause us great problems.

Our Brains are continually receiving information from the world around us.

To save mental energy we use a tiny bit of data and then jump to a conclusion which we might or might not check out later on.

Sometimes we are right but pretty much, most of the time, we would be wrong to some degree.

Taken to an extreme we start predicative thinking. There is no point in doing that because of the conclusion I usually jump to. We also start to believe we can read minds.

Mind reading: this is when we assume that we know what someone else is thinking, or we know the rationale behind someone else’s behaviours. This happens to be a very common style of thinking and its just not possible.


Predictive thinking is where we think we can

We also jump to conclusions when we begin making predictions about what is going to happen on some future occasion. We change our behaviour and communication as a result. This is a very common way to increase anxiety and stress.

Often these are predictions about what other people will think about us or how we will feel in a future situation.

Here is example. You have to give a talk to a group of people. Your thoughts might be “I’m going to hate this, I’ll be really bad and they will all think I am an idiot.’ Even though you talk to people all the time you believe this to be true. You believe this despite the fact that you have delivered many successful presentations in the past.

Remember every time you think you know what someone else is thinking and you don’t ask them what they are thinking you’re just plain wrong. If you start changing your behaviour because you think you can predict what others are thinking, again , your wrong.

Your brain gets one small piece of evidence and jumps to, usually, the wrong  conclusion by a country mile. You need evidence and then you need to check it.


You should always identify the amount of data you have, what more you need and how to get it.

Briefly describe the situation. What was the HOT thought that went through your mind? What feelings did you experience consequent to your thinking? What more information did you need or what alternative interpretations are you ignoring?


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