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Mental filtering: when we focus on negative details

Mental filtering: when we focus on negative details

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Only Focusing On The Negative

Do you tend to focus on negative details?

Mental filtering is a cognitive distortion that leads us to magnify the negative details of a situation while filtering out the positives. Also known as selective abstraction, this bias for dwelling on your shortcomings could lead ...

Blinkered Thinking

Mental Filtering can be described as focusing only on the negative aspects of an event, such as I ruined the whole recital because of that one mistake.

This blinkered thinking was found to be strongly associated with anxiety and depression. Mental filtering also shares a close rela...

Examples Of Mental Filtering

  • Upon submitting a project for approval, the overwhelmingly positive feedback is quickly overshadowed by one piece of constructive criticism. This can lead you to believe that you are doing a poor job, even though this is not what you were told.
  • A colleague fails to greet you when you...

Impact Of Mental Filtering

Mental filtering can have a detrimental impact on your self-confidence and personal growth. If the one piece of advice your boss gave you after a presentation led you to feel that you were no good at public speaking, then you may internalise that any future attempts will be a disaster. This vicio...

To manage this cognitive distortion, you must consciously start to manage negative thought patterns so you can begin to see your efforts and achievements in a more positive light.

First, recognise when mental filtering occurs. A key step to managing a cognitive distortion is to acknowledge ...

Manage Mental Filtering: Cost-Benefit Analysis

In psychology, a cost-benefit analysis is a technique used as part of cognitive behavioural therapy.  

On a piece of paper, create two columns for costs and benefits. Think about whether mental filtering benefits you, as well as what it costs you. Write each point down in a column and assi...

 Asking your friends or colleagues for an objective opinion on your performance or achievements is a good way to gauge your ability or progress. If you have become entrenched in negative self-talk, listen carefully to what others objectively report.

Write down all of the positive opinions y...

Challenging unhelpful thought patterns and becoming more objective can help to avoid the automatic descent into unwarranted negativity.

Journaling and keeping an open mind when receiving feedback can help you recognise the positives. By avoiding mental filtering, you will be better equipped...

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