My girlfriend's son has a lizard named Fland. Fland rarely moves. She sits under the heat lamp and peers out with no expression. But we like to say what Fland is feeling. "Fland is hungry." "Fland wants to be held." "Fland looks tired."
The joke is that after each of us says what Fland is feeling, we recognize that we are feeling the same thing. We often use it as a meter to tell where we are coming from.
I started thinking that perhaps whenever we say our opinion about what another person is thinking or doing, it's actually a safe way for us to express what we're feeling. It's not always safe to say what we feel. It can be scary. We're vulnerable when we open up. We worry about how other people will react. What if they don't like what we said and reject us?
Plus, we think we know where another person is coming from, but it's impossible to know what another person is feeling or their deeper motivations. We don't hear their thoughts and feelings. It's hard enough to know where we're coming from all the time.
Assuming to know why someone does something is a form of mental clutter. It doesn't serve us. It often separates us from the person we have the opinion about. And it removes us from our own feeling process.
My experience is it's worth noticing when we assume to know another's business because it's an opportunity to see what's going on for us. It's a safe way for us to see our more uncomfortable feelings.
I was watching Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, and I felt myself thinking, "This show isn't as funny as it used to be. Jon Stewart looks so tired. He's pushing himself. How come he doesn't realize this and do something about it?" Then a second later I realized, "I'm talking about me. I need to take care of myself and go to bed." I did. I got a good night's sleep and I felt so much better in the morning.