After filtering the positive and the negative for two thousand and eighty consecutive days here at The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, I’m amazed that I haven’t written about the common cognitive distortion of Negative Filter before today.
Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).
This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation. For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”
Why do people disqualify the positive? Why do we focus on the negative? When I try to filter through experience and answer those questions, my best guess is that the negative gets our attention because our survival has depended on our being hyper aware of danger and fixating on problems until we solve them.
However, negative filter can lead to depression, hopelessness, and an inability to enjoy the positive.
How can we filter our experiences more effectively, letting in the positive AND the negative? And how can we deal with all the information around us, which can clog up our filters?
As usual, I don’t have all the answers but I do have lots of questions, like what kind of filters do you see in my recent photos?
Let things come to you, but please don’t filter out the positive.
Last night, when I was working on letting go of my own negative filter, I positively and completely enjoyed this tap routine on the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance (if you want to filter everything else out, the dancing starts at 2:30):
Gratitude helps clean out the filter, so thanks to Evan DeBenedetto, Lex Ishimoto, choreographer Anthony Morigerato, everyone else who helped me filter through recent experiences to create today’s post and — of course! — YOU.