This can often be a confusing concept, but when we boil it down- mentalizing is all about “seeing ourselves from the outside, and seeing others from the inside”. Mentalizing is about being curious, being open and having a wondering stance- it’s never really about knowing exactly what others (or even ourselves) think and feel. It’s what makes us feel really connected to others.
You’re mentalizing when you might say “why did I do that?” or wonder “what’s happening for them?”. In essence, mentalizing is a form of mindfulness.
Ever had the experience of someone saying “Yep I totally know how you’re feeling”- and you’re thinking woah you’re way off, no you don’t! They’re in non-mentalizing mode- they’re so concrete and certain- not at all curious and open. Annoyingly as humans, we switch into this non-mentalizing mode when we become stressed or overwhelmed- usually the times when we need to mentalize the most!
The more your baby/child experiences your curiosity, and experiences you thinking carefully about what he is saying or showing you; the more he will feel to be accurately ‘seen’ by you and he will then feel more secure in your mind and in the world. As a baby or young child- the more we are truly ‘seen’ by our caregivers, the stronger our sense of self is.
️To help process and unload a particular incident or child’s meltdown think about these questions:
🔅Objectively what happened- what are the facts step by step?
🔅What thoughts and feelings were you experiencing?
🔅What thoughts and feelings might your child have been experiencing?
🔅Was there a time when you switched into non-mentalizing mode, and just reacted and couldn’t wonder anymore?
🔅What was it?
🔅Could you wonder why?