Why We Think Everything Is About Us: The Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift Feud Dissected

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In simpler times, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj pose together at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2012. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift were locked in a heated Twitter exchange on Tuesday evening, and it was all over a misunderstanding.

It started when Minaj began posting tweets over her disappointment that the video for her song “Anaconda” didn’t receive more MTV Video Music Award nominations:

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And then it got a little more intense:

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Assuming Minaj was talking about her, Swift tweeted the following:

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And then Minaj said her posts had nothing to do with Swift:

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Swift then quickly backtracked:

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Minaj’s rant didn’t mention Swift, although her “Bad Blood” video was nominated for Video of the Year (along with videos featuring Beyonce and several others) … so why did Swift assume the rant was about her?

It’s because many of us tend to assume everything is about us.

“We all start out in life assuming that everything is about us because infants are the center of their own universe,” psychologist Alan Keck, PsyD, explains to Yahoo Health. “It’s only eventually that we learn there are other people here who act independently from us.”

We can chalk it up to a thinking pattern called “cognitive distortion.”

This tendency to impulsively think or assume that something other people are thinking or saying is about you is part of a thinking pattern that psychologists call cognitive distortion. “It’s one of a number of unhealthy thinking patterns that leads to miscommunications and can get a person in trouble, personally and emotionally,” says Keck.

But psychiatrist Gail Saltz, MD, author of “Becoming Real: The Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” tells Yahoo Health this is a common trap for women who may have experienced some form of emotional bullying or behind-the-back criticism as girls.

“That can leave you with a lot of traumatic feelings that affect how you view things later,” she says. “Therefore you may assume things are about you when they aren’t.”

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Pop culture expert Jean Twenge, PhD, author of “Generation Me,” tells Yahoo Health that she doesn’t expect these misunderstandings to go away anytime soon. “This has been recognized for a while, however it might be even more common among millennials, given their higher levels of self-focus compared to previous generations at the same age.”

If you find yourself in a Swift-like mishap, Saltz says it’s best to ask yourself if you really have enough evidence to support that something is about you, or if you just tend to feel sensitive about the topic in question.

You can even ask an outside friend for input to gauge whether they think a comment was a barb aimed at you before confronting the person directly.

And finally, you can just ask for clarification. Keck recommends saying something like, “When you said [insert what was said here], I felt [insert how you felt here]. Can you explain what you meant?”

However, if you find that you’re constantly experiencing these miscommunications that something is about you (when it really isn’t), Saltz says it may be time to seek out a therapist. “If it really is plaguing your relationships, you might need to understand that and the way it’s playing out,” she explains.

And maybe take a pass on doing it over social media. That is, unless you want to leave it open for the whole world to weigh in, too.

Case in point … .

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