I had to learn to actually hide the degree to which I can cold read people, picking up on channels they didn't intend to communicate on with facial expressions, body languages, even tone or breathing changes. It took me a long time once I started understanding what I was doing and why to think of it as more than a curse of anticipatory self-defense. Before I understood what I was doing, I used to joke that I was the Bus Stop Confessional. I was so constantly and fundamentally disarming everyone around me that complete strangers would unload their intense problems on me. I'd be 17, wide-eyed, nodding and listening with attentiveness and profound confusion to a 40-something woman who'd finalized her divorce that day, or a Vet who hadn't talked to his daughter in twenty years because of alcoholism. I'll still do this every once in awhile, but the difference now is that it's my conscious choice to engage instead of this ubiquitous accidental engagement that comes form reading and reacting to *everyone* around me.

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