Telepathy is typically the reserve of the science fiction genre, but what if we could actually read other people’s thoughts? What might we discover?
When it is depicted in books, film, or on TV, the ability to read minds is most often a clean and coherent thing in which the telepath encounters an internal narrator that “talks” one sentence at a time. This makes sense for viewing purposes because a more accurate representation of the mind would be hard to produce and ineffective as a means of storytelling.
So let’s just stop for a moment and consider what it would really be like to read another person’s thoughts. What would we see and hear? What could we learn about ourselves?
Our Minds Can Be Chaotic
Well, the first thing I think we would realize is that thoughts aren’t linear; that is to say that thoughts do not always happen one at a time, nor do they always happen in the order we’d expect them to. Instead, we’d be confronted with an eruption of thoughts that weave in and out of each other like threads in an endless and complex tapestry.
A thought could be one of many things; we would notice the inner voice that speaks as us and to us, the “sights” that come from the mind’s eye (memories, imagination, etc.), and the sounds that float around our heads. If you could read another person’s mind, you’d likely be overwhelmed by the sheer number of distinct thoughts that whizz around at any one time.
Our Thoughts Can Be Irrational
The second thing that would become apparent relatively quickly is that not all thoughts are rational. We all experience our fair share of irrational and illogical ideas, but we don’t say them out loud because our minds are aware that this is not appropriate.
Sometimes, for instance, we experience a thought that is a pure knee-jerk reaction to what is happening in our lives. Often these are driven by our emotions, which are inextricably linked to our egos. They are highly likely to be irrational, and while the emotion remains, the thought will permeate throughout our minds. It is not until our initial feelings have subsided that a more reasoned thought process can occur and we can reflect on our irrationality with clarity and, often, a sense of humor.
As an outsider looking in, we wouldn’t feel these same emotions and so the pure ridiculousness of the thoughts would become instantly apparent.
The Ego Plays A Big Role
Another thing we’d notice, and this is linked to the previous point, is that a large proportion of a person’s thoughts revolve around themselves. You might think that this makes complete sense, and when it comes to practical thoughts about how one is going to do something, you’d be right.
But when it’s not your mind, you start to realize that the remaining thoughts exhibit selfishness, vanity, and narcissism. By observing the mind in action, you would be able to better understand the influence of the ego as it tries to protect and strengthen its position.
The ego is also responsible for all the worry and anxiety that we feel and the sheer number of thoughts that get dedicated to these feelings would become apparent.
Not All Thoughts Are Pleasant
We’d also realize just how often thoughts can be dark and somewhat disturbing. Even the most normal of people will find unwanted ideas popping up in their minds every so often.
Known by the professionals as intrusive thoughts, they can often repulse us with their unpleasantness. They typically include either a form of violence or a reference to sexual activity, but, whatever the content, a healthy person knows that they’d never act upon them.
That’s not to say that you wouldn’t come across them if you were reading somebody else’s mind.
What Does It All Mean?
After climbing inside the mind of another human being to watch, read, and listen to their thoughts, you will realize that your mind is just like many others out there. You are no different to the rest of us, so there is no need to feel ashamed of your thoughts; there is nothing wrong with you.
You may also gain a better understanding of the behaviors of other people. You will know that irrational behavior is driven by irrational thoughts, but that these do not define the person thinking them. It might even help you develop a more compassionate approach to your fellow man, knowing that you are more alike than you could have ever imagined.
The Conscious Rethink: you are not your thoughts and they are not you. The human mind is an often chaotic place and it’s the same for the vast majority of people. Irrationality, the ego, fear and anxiety; you needn’t be so concerned with them once you can observe and understand them. Seeing inside the mind of another person might just be the biggest eye-opener of them all.