Filtering is a type of cognitive distortion in which an individual focuses on the negative and minimizes the positive. When in a depressive state of mind, people are often more readily aware of what is not going well than what is going well. When an individual employs filtering as a thought pattern on a regular basis, day-to-day happenings are skewed, creating a perspective that feels as if nothing goes smoothly. The individual can feel like a failure, struggling with resenting the world and the self. Life can feel like one let down after another.
If you find yourself struggling with filtering, look for the evidence to support your negative thought. When you look more closely, you will find things that have gone smoothly, things that have blended into the background because you may have taken them for granted, or just not noticed them because there wasn’t a need for attention that required fixing. Focus on what is going well, giving equal credit to the positives as you go to the negatives. Take the extra step of starting and ending your day with listing three things for which you are grateful, no matter how small.
As the cliché goes, the grass is greener where you water it. If we focus on the positive aspects of our daily lives, we develop more content hearts. Conversely, if we focus on the negative things, we develop discontentment. As Philippians 2:14-16 reminds us, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
When we reach a place of darkness and brokenness, reshaping our thought patterns can be hard to do alone. Utilizing resources such counseling or a trusted pastor enables you to work through brokenness and find strength in the collaborative process of enlisting others to guide you on your journey to healing.
Eileen earned her Masters of Art degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy from Adler Graduate School in Richfield, MN after obtaining her undergraduate degree in Psychology and French from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Eileen’s professional experience has included assessment and therapeutic intervention work with pediatric and well as adult clients. As a licensed professional clinical counselor, Eileen uses a frame work of family systems and cognitive behavioral therapy.
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