What's this mental filter thing ?
Quite simply put a mental filter is when you focus on the negatives of any situation rather than look at all the factors of which there are going to be good or bad.
I will give a great example which happened to me yesterday. HH has been decorating a room and had the massive task of putting up some picture wallpaper. No mean feat - it required all his attention and skills to get 8 different bits of picture wall paper up in the right place, lining up so it looked just like the image in the next directory. He did a fantastic job - it looked great. I commented how good it was and how he must be pleased...no he said 'I am not!!!' ... I was little shocked. He walked over to one of the joins and said 'I am annoyed I think this does not match up completely. HH had fallen into a mental filter, it looked great, I could not see any fault but he could and as a result he dismissed everything else and focused on this one small negative (to be honest only he could see it).
We all use mental filters, perhaps we feel frustrated at the act of our partners. friends, children when in fact if we looked at the bigger picture we would be less harsh. I often think my children's rooms are a mess, however I have to remind myself they do other things which I appreciate or am proud of.
By allowing ourselves to dismiss the positives or failing to give them the credit they deserve we can give ourselves depression or anxiety. So tackling the mental filter thinking habit is really important.
What tools do you need to tackle a mental filter? Well I think we all possess a great toolkit we can access.
Number 1 - Quickly identify that thought and call it right out !!! (inside your head is best or people may start to worry about you ... )
'You are an unhelpful thought brought into my head by a mental filter' - I can guarantee you once you have identified this unhelpful thinking style you will be a good way down the road to dealing with it
Number 2 - Hello EVIDENCE .. where are you??
There is nearly always evidence which gives another perspective - OK so they did not clean their rooms BUT they did offer to help with the tea ... Ok you might think the wallpaper has slightly shrunk but lets be honest you need to be VERY close to see it !!
Number 3 - what do others think - do they have a different perspective, have they noticed something you have not ?
for example ' kids spot the flaw in dad's wallpapering??' (no-one spotted it!!)
The view of others can really help to put a different light on things and help you to look at a situation in a different way.
Number 4 - find some gradient in your thinking - this is really easy once you try it and also gets easier everytime you practice it. It's a great tool to reduce stress and help you reduce your emotional response to something. Scale the issue - what do I mean ? well on a scale of 1-10 how bad is it actually - because 10 must be something REALLY bad.
Mental filters are one of the unhelpful thinking strategies we can engage in but by using the tools and tactics above you can tackle these and develop a way of thinking which is more healthy and productive for you, your body and those around you.