Mental Filters

images brain pictureI recently gave a motivational presentation to a large organization. The energy in the room was strong and I was quite confident when I finished the speaking engagement.  Feeling a strong adrenalin rush, I quickly found my seat and encountered a number of individuals who congratulated me on a job well done.


Later, while I was networking with different people, a man approached me to talk.  He shared with me that my presentation would have been much better if I had gone into more detail on a specific topic. I handled the interaction diplomatically and went to sit down.


I was devastated.


I became obsessed with the comment the man had shared.  Over and over, my mind swirled with this bit of negative information. If only I had realized that I needed to go into more detail! Then, the presentation would have been great.  How could I have not known that the key to success was to go into more depth!?  I believed that my speech was sub par because I neglected this one aspect. I bounced this perceived error around in my mind until the error had become mammoth sized.


Does this faulty thinking sound familiar at all?  I’m sure at one point in your life, you have also succumbed to this dysfunctional thought pattern.


This specific cognitive distortion that affects so many of us is called filtering. It happens when you focus on the most negative and upsetting features of a situation, filtering out the more positive aspects.  In my case, I had numerous individuals that shared positive feedback on my presentation.  I felt excited and energized when I stepped down from the stage. However, none of the positive praise seemed to matter. Apparently, all it took was one person’s negative opinion to change my perspective on the whole speaking engagement.


Looking back on this experience, I can definitely see the error of my ways. Due to my resilience training, I was able to readjust my thinking and look at the situation more realistically.  I studied the situation in a pragmatic manner and asked myself why I was discounting all the positive feedback.  The question was, why did I give this one man such power? This just didn’t seem reasonable.


Obviously, this experience didn’t stop me from taking part in future presentations.  I was able to realistically look at the facts and reason it out.  However, not everyone goes through this process and your filtered experience can be a great time waster—

Stopping you from moving forward in life.


Make sure the lens that you view the world through is not clouded with some faulty thinking.





images dandelion


I worked at my desk for way too long and I couldn’t concentrate anymore.  On top of that, it was 85 degrees outside and I was itching to enjoy the beautiful weather.  I decided that I would go for a quick walk to clear my head. As I walked outside the front door and looked around, I marveled at the front yard. It was as if I was seeing it for the first time.


I noticed that there were some weeds cropping up in one of the flowerbeds, so I decided to delay my walk and take care of it.  I looked around and noticed the lush green grass and the flowered trees. As I neared the front of the house, I spotted it.  There, in the middle of a nicely manicured bed, was the biggest weed that I had ever seen. It had a very thick stem and a large yellow flower. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the flower/weed was at least 5 feet high. If you’re wondering if I’m confused and that it really was a flower, I can 100% assure you that it was a weed.


As I stepped over to the gargantuan weed, I wondered how I had missed it for so long. Much to my dismay, this 5-foot behemoth was not hidden behind bushes.  This flower/weed was not obscured from any vantage point in the front yard.  How was it possible that this weed went unnoticed by me?


I grabbed it and yanked hard, pulling it out of the ground. I ceremoniously carried the weed to the trashcan and threw it out.  On my way, I looked around to see if anyone was watching me.  In my mind, I wondered how many neighbors had obviously noticed the weed and were taking bets on when I was going to finally do something about it.


As I went for my walk, I wondered how I could have left my house numerous times during the day and driven back into the driveway without ever noticing the obvious. I mean, it was HUGE and in plain sight. I decided that the reason that I didn’t see the weed was because I didn’t want to see it.


As humans, we are wired to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. If you think about it, everything in life comes down to these two things.  Let me tell you a secret— I don’t like working in the yard.  To me, it’s a pain. I’ve been putting off planting my flowers and other yard work for sometime now. As I thought honestly about this, I realized that I hadn’t noticed the obvious because it was painful for me.  I avoided looking at the yard at all costs. This way, I didn’t have to feel any pain or discomfort and could go about my life. Yes, this sounded like denial to me.


As I faced the music, I made a commitment to change this negative pattern.  No matter how much progress you make in handling issues in a proactive manner, now and then, you can easily revert back into negative patterns from your past.  So here’s you’re wake-up call— is there something in your own life that you’ve been conveniently avoiding?  Are there some weeds that you need to attend to in your own garden?


I have faith that you’ll take the steps to move forward in your life.



Facing the Fear

It all started five days ago. I was eating breakfast and I heard a rhythm of knocks at the door.  It stopped for a while, but it soon started up again.  Knock, knock, knock. I opened the door and looked around but I didn’t see anyone.  I went upstairs to focus on my work.


I wasn’t sitting at my desk for more than five minutes when I heard the rhythmic knocking again.  Knock, knock, knock, knock.  On and on it went until I ran back down the stairs and opened the door.  Again, I didn’t see anything and I closed the door.  I asked my husband later that day if he had heard that same sound emanating from the front door.  He too had wondered what the sound was and had opened the door to find nothing.


Finally, on the fourth day of knocking, my husband quietly walked out the side door and worked his way to the front of the house.  There, at the front door, was a Robin banging his head against the door’s brass kick plate, over and over again.


According to an expert on bird behaviors, this is about the time when they start feeling territorial.  They do their very best to keep other adult birds of the same sex outside of their territorial boundaries.  When a Robin notices its reflection in a window or mirror, it becomes agitated and raises its feathers and assumes dominant position.  Normally, that behavior is enough to make other robins leave their territory.


However, the “reflection” obviously also gets agitated and becomes equally dominant.  If the robin sees his reflection repeatedly, it becomes more and more agitated and aggressive.  The bird gets determined to drive the “other bird” away.


Apparently, my robin friend was quite aggravated with the nerve of the “brass plate” bird.  No matter how much he threw his weight (and head) at the bird, the “brass plate” bird continued to fight back.  Therefore, that bird felt obligated to come back to my front door over and over again to show the other bird who was boss.


But we know the truth.  The “brass plate” bird was only a reflection and didn’t truly exist.  However, for my friend the Robin, it was very, very real and threatening.  The bird’s response to the threat was the same ritualistic behavior every time, which, as we know, was not bringing him the outcome that he wanted.


What do you fear in life? It’s possible that you have fears that are keeping you from moving forward.  Like our friend the Robin, your usual way of dealing with these threats are based on past behavior.  Do you have a coping pattern of pulling the covers over your head or do you persevere and face whatever’s in front of you?  Chances are, you repeat this ritualistic behavior over and over.  It’s very possible that your fear is about as real as that birds reflection in the brass kick plate.


Your success on moving forward in life is dependent upon your ability to see the fear for what it truly is— only a reflection of your past negative experiences.  Your success on moving forward is dependent upon your ability to change your patterns and find a new way to approach the fear.


Only then will you stop banging your head against the brass kick plate.