What you think others think is probably a good indication of what you think. Much of what we think, that is much of our attitude toward life, our circumstances and our relationships, lies unacknowledged in our hearts. Often our general opinion of our inner lives has more to do with what we think should be going on there rather than what really is. However, counselors and wise spiritual guides have always known that one of the truest indicators of what someone really thinks, what their attitudes really are, is revealed in their candid assessment of others.
This principle is set forth masterfully in Dickens’ Dombey and Son. Mr. Carker the Manager is the trusted assistant of Mr. Dombey, the very rich and very proud protagonist of the novel. When confronted by Mrs. Dombey for his deceitful fawning of his employer, Mr. Carker the Manager explains that if he did not play to Mr. Dombey’s pride, someone else would. His justification for his deceitful flattery is that others would do the same, or so he thinks.
Later in the novel, Mr. Carker the Manager accuses his brother John, and all of the lower staff of Dombey and Son, of secretly wishing for the fall of the Great Man, Mr. Dombey. Mr. Carker the Manager cannot believe his brother when he tells him that none of the staff that he knows have any but the highest regard for Mr. Dombey and wish him only good. The Manager calls his brother a liar, so sure is he of the malice in the hearts of others. John’s denials do nothing more than strengthen the Manager’s conviction, for he reasons that subordinates would never admit such evil thoughts.
But the thoughts are only those of the Manager, thoughts that he projects on others creating an imaginary justification for his own deceitful dealings with his employer.