Do you know what they are thinking?

When you look at another person, you don’t know what they’re thinking.  You may have a notion.  You may have enough in common or enough common experience together to venture a strong guess.  Spend enough time with somebody and you can finish their sentences for them.

But do you really know what they’re thinking?

From a young age, we learn roleplaying.  We learn appropriate ways to act.  We learn appropriate ways to be inappropriate.  The cultures we are exposed to teach us, through experience, what roles to expect from others and what roles are expected of us.

We run through scripts with each other.  With scripts, we can better predict how someone will react and what they will say and do.  With scripts, they can better predict how we will react and what we will say and do.

You can become confident that you know what someone else is thinking.

But do you really know what they’re thinking?

Predictable people make navigating social situations simple.  You simply have to learn their scripts and learn your scripts and play your parts and nobody is any the wiser.  As far as you’re concerned, you know what they are thinking.  As far as they’re concerned, they know what you are thinking.

But do they really know what you’re thinking?

When you look in the mirror, do *you* know what you’re going to think next?

What will you think about in ten seconds?  What will your thought be in seven minutes?

Do you know?

If you don’t know what you will be thinking fifty thoughts from now, how do you know what someone else will be thinking fifth thoughts from now?  Or two thoughts from now?  Or … right now?

We have wonderfully elaborate systems for discovering what someone is thinking.  We have cognitive science.  We have psychology.  We have stereotypes.  We have societies and cultures.  We have patterns of thinking that we develop young.

If you share the patterns with someone else, you still don’t know what they’re thinking.  Rather, you know what the pattern is thinking.  You know your script and, more importantly, you know the script they are following.

But even thought you know the script,

Do you really know what they’re thinking? Right now?

Isn’t that scary?  It shouldn’t be scary.  We pretend to know someone else through and through.  Yet, in the end, we don’t.  We know their roles but not them.

So, what do you do?

How can we accurately predict what someone else is going to say or do next?

We can’t do it for ourselves.  So why do we expect others around us to be more predictable than us?

Scary thought:  Do you know what they are thinking?”

It shouldn’t be scary.  It’s common.  Yet, it *is* scary.  Why?

Why?  Because facing an “I don’t know” situation is scary.

Certainty means: We can plan our next move.
Certainty means: We know what our next thought, feeling, or action should be.
Certainty means we don’t have to be afraid.

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