Mind reader. Knowing one’s intentions. Uncovering one’s motivation. These are examples of what we do when we assign a thought, intent or motive to someone else. It happens when we give more weight to what we believe about another person than what is actually true.
Funny how our beliefs can easily become greater than truth. In fact, they oftentimes become our “truth.” If we believe it, well then it must be true. But it’s a slippery slope to be on. After all, what if we’re…gulp, wrong???
This is just a guess…but I would say that most of the time we assign the WRONG thoughts, intents and motives to other people. We can be an expert at body language but it still doesn’t mean we know what someone else is thinking. We can have a discerning spirit but it still doesn’t mean we know someone’s true intentions. And we can have great insight into others but it still doesn’t mean we know the motivation behind someone’s actions.
How many times has someone assigned a thought to me? “I know what you’re thinking,” while I respond, “You have no clue what I’m thinking!” Or assigned an intent. “You obviously meant to belittle me,” while I respond, “That wasn’t my intention at all!” Or assigned a motive. “This is only to benefit you,” while I respond, “I was actually thinking more about you!”
It’s frustrating when people do it to us. It can sometimes be hurtful. But while we recognize those injustices, we oftentimes fail to see how we do the same to others.
Assigning a thought, intent or motive to someone else runs the risk of creating unnecessary friction, messing up a relationship or even permanently damaging it. Done over and over again, it can fray already worn edges. To the point it’s broken and unfixable. It also makes us look bad (or prideful) when we think we know more than we really do.
Just as we don’t want this done to us, we should be careful to make sure we don’t do it to others. It’s better to ask questions (in a polite way) when we need clarification on what another person thinks or intends. It’s better to take time to truly understand someone’s motives.