The cognitive distortion of Negative Filter — filtering out all positives, including hope — keeps the mind stuck in painful circles.
In my work as a group therapist, I witness those painfully negative circles of thought in others — over and over again, around and around.
Because of criticism, self-doubt, and disappointment, I — like any other human being — can get temporarily stuck in the painful circles of Negative Filter, too.
Yesterday morning, after reading about some particularly upsetting circles of injustice in the news, my mind got stuck in negative circles, again.
Then, on my walk to work, a tune I dearly love — First Circle by The Pat Metheny Group — circled through my ears and into my circulating mind.
(That live version of “First Circle” is circling beautifully here on YouTube. And don’t click the rectangular button in the middle of the screen, or you’ll have to circle back to listen to the rest of the music.)
That familiar, wonderful music was enough to nudge my mind out of the painful, repetitive circles of Negative Filter.
I immediately noticed — and captured — the first circle I saw:
From then on, noticing non-negative circles helped me help others who were stuck in their own negative circles of thoughts and feelings.
That circle — of group therapy hand-outs on the floor of my office — demonstrates what happens when a group therapist forgets to press the circular “collate” button on a new, rapidly circling copy machine.
The water in that circle-filled bottle helped sustain me through that circular ordeal.
After completing the circle of a 10-hour work day — witnessing many people support each other in getting out of negative thinking circles — I noticed all these circles, too:
What circles are you noticing , now?
Circles of thanks to Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, and the rest of the Pat Metheny Group, to all the people who sat around in circles of supportive group therapy yesterday, and to every circle I saw around the Fenway Park area of Boston and around my non-circular home. Also, special circular thanks to you — of course! — for circling your way here, today.