Thought Distortions: Mental Filter

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Thought Distortions: Mental Filter

Mental Filter will be our focus for the second in our series on thought distortions. This filter, and any other thought distortion, happens reflexively before we even realize we are thinking in this pattern.

Mental Filter is only paying attention to certain types of evidence while blocking out the rest. You notice your failures but not your successes. You are able to filter out positive events so effectively you believe that negative is your only experience.

If you have a Mental Filter, you might focus only on the negative comment a professor made on your paper when most of the feedback he or she gave was positive.  

Your day is going great, but one person does not acknowledge you in the hallway, and you wonder why no one likes you.  

You did not make one of your goals at work and kick yourself mentally for days.

Even though though you are normally attentive, you accidentally run a red light and berate yourself for being a terrible driver. 

You give a presentation and everyone expresses positive feedback except for one minor critique, and later you can’t stop feeling awful about that one minor issue.

In moderation, this type of thinking may help you perform better, but when it is excessive, it can cause anxiety and depression and result in emotional distress.