Thought Catalog’s 10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has Top Be did a great job of identifying some really common disruptive thought patterns I share with about a million other people. One in particular really hit home.

You ascribe intent.
Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others.


I know quite a few of people who read meaning into an unanswered text or email, and then feel miffed, rejected or anxious at what they perceive to be a conscious slight. And even though I often don’t always respond to emails immediately myself (because other things take priority…I never received it in the first place…emails take a lot of headspace…I don’t yet have a response to someone’s query…shit happens…) I’ve found myself falling into that paranoid place as well.

The fact is, it is folly to try to read people’s intentions through the often-barbaric language of emails or texts, written in a hurry with little regard for niceties, and often falling silent suddenly because, very simply, everyone is pulled by too many things.




When I DON’T indulge dark notions of the secret subtext of a digital exchange, everything suddenly gets simpler and easier…and way more spacious. I allow for the fact that the email may not have gotten through, the recipient may be busy or spaced …or they may really be a dog (Cartoonist Peter Steiner’s brilliant revelation).

And curiously, the exchange usually picks up when the time is right, in a cordial way.


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2 replies on “How to Unhook from Email Paranoia

  1. As my mother used to say: Darling, get over yourself. It’s never about you.

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