If You’re a Mind Reader. . .

It’s a beautiful Monday afternoon at the beach. My husband Jeff and I have toes in the sand and the sound of crashing waves in our ears here at Panama City Beach, Florida.

I look up from the book I’m reading (because of course I’m reading a book on the beach) when a young woman near us stands up. She is quickly spraying sunscreen on her body as she watches her friends jump into the water ahead of her.

I’m glancing at her from my beach chair, wondering if she realizes that the sunscreen will all wash off if she jumps immediately into the water without giving it time to sink in.

I’m also seeing her struggle to spray the sunscreen on her back.

That’s when I hear Jeff say, “It’s so hard for me not to go over there and help her.

I know Jeff likes to serve people. He’s one of those natural helpers who is quick to notice when someone needs a hand; he often offers his. (For example, we were eating breakfast at Hardee’s one morning when someone’s car stalled in the road in front of us. Jeff immediately ran to the road to help move the car out of traffic.)

I, on the other hand, need time to think things through. While I’m also glad to help, it takes me a minute to figure out what help I could offer that would be of use to someone, with the least amount of awkwardness from either of us. By the time I compose a logical solution, the moment has often passed. (Somebody like Jeff has already stepped in and the problem is over.)

But offering to help a stranger on the beach spread her sunscreen? That’s a bit much, even for Jeff.

And I say so out loud to him, using the most measured, calm voice available to me in the moment.

“Um, I know you like to help, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

And to further drive the point home, I add, “Plus, her sunscreen will all wash off in a minute anyway.”

At that point Jeff replies, “What???”

He looks at me. He looks where I’m looking. And roars into laughter.

While I had been watching the sunscreen woman, Jeff had been watching a 75-year-old woman in front of us struggling to fold up her beach chair while holding her book.

It was this older woman with her chair that Jeff had wanted to help, NOT the younger woman with her sunscreen.

As he explains it to me, I also laugh out loud at our hilarious (and potentially dangerous) miscommunication.

Doesn’t this happen between humans all the time? One person assumes the other person is talking about subject A, when in reality they are talking about subject B.

Confusion ensues. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Or wives get suspicious.

Why? Because we didn’t use enough words or signals to more fully explain ourselves, but relied on our mind reading skills instead.

My goal this month with my One Word Human has been to focus on the human mind, specifically to (1) learn new things and (2) ask more for advice.

But after my miscommunication with Jeff this week, I’m adding a third category: (3) communicate more clearly.

We may think we are mind readers. But bridging the gap from one human mind to another human mind isn’t as simple as we assume.

Don’t try to read minds. Make the mental path more visible instead.

It’s a good human thing to do.

If you're a mind reader

Do you think you’re good at reading someone’s mind? Share your thoughts in the comments.

More here on how to be a HUMAN:

18 thoughts on “If You’re a Mind Reader. . .

  1. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    This made me smile. I could totally see how something like that could happen. What you said also reminded me of my own husband. I, too, am the one who needs time to process while my sweet husband is willing to jump into any situation to help someone. I could totally see your scenario happening to us.

  2. Barbara Harper

    My husband and I are the same way. He’s pretty quick to jump in and do what he can to help. It takes me a while to figure out If I should do anything, and if so, what.

    I had to smile at the miscommunication. We’ve had some misses like that–thankfully usually nothing serious.

    The fact that we can’t truly know what someone else is thinking, even after having been married for decades, is a good reminder to clarify.

  3. Esmé Slabbert

    Hi Lisa, Mindreading can be a dangerous thing IMO. Yes, we can not assume you know what others see or think.
    I visited you via Thinking Out Loud Thursday – May 18, 2023
    If not already part of SSPS, and are interested, find my entries: 15+16
    You will find the linkup information (1) In the Top bar under Blogging: Weekly Senior Salon Pit Stop (2) In the sidebar: Click on 2nd image; (3) under “Recent Posts. We hope to meet you there virtually.

  4. Michele Morin

    I remember when I was dangerously post partum, my poor husband took the brunt of my unreasonable expectation that he would read my mind. It’s funny now, but sure wasn’t at the time!

  5. Lisa Blair

    Great illustration, Lisa! It is so easy to think we are communicating clearly when in reality we are not. Thanks for the reminder to make sure our communication is in the proper context. Awww Panama City, Florida is an awesome beach! Enjoy!

  6. Jean Wise

    Funny and wise and sooooo human! A great story and illustration. We vacationed at Panama City Beach last September and can’t wait to go again! Beautiful there! have a great weekend, Lisa!

  7. Barb Hegreberg

    Oh my…I can see a very similar thing happening with my hubby & I. I think I actually laughed out loud.

    Also….love this:

    “Don’t try to read minds. Make the mental path more visible instead.”

  8. Richella J Parham

    Oh, Lisa. This made me laugh. . . but what wisdom you illustrate here. “Mind-reading” is dangerous for relationships!

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  9. Paula Short

    I should have used the bathroom before I read this, I laughed so hard. I’m a spontaneous helper. I’ve got to say I love your sharp insights here.
    Thanks bunches for sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month sweet friend.

  10. Cecelia Lester

    Michele: I have had experiences like yours. I think Hubby is saying something that could be difficult, and I automatically open my mouth and state what I think should be done or not done. I am learning not to do that as often.

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