Cognitive Distortion: Mental Filtering

The graphic shows a woman who suffers from mental filtering sitting on a chair with her head in her hands. On the bottom portion of the graphic is the title of the blog, which reads, " Cognitive Distortions: Mental Filtering".

Cognitive distortions are when individuals create a false perception or belief of themselves and create a negative narrative. Cognitive distortions can be extraordinarily harmful and negatively affect one’s relationships and cause anxiety and behavioral problems. For example, one type of cognitive distortion is mental filtering. With this type of cognitive distortion, people see the world through a negative lens. 

At A Cognitive Connection, we help you better understand your brain and behaviors. So, suppose you find yourself using a mental filter or another type of cognitive distortion. In that case, we will provide resources to help you become aware of and counter this harmful behavior. So, keep reading to learn more about mental filtering and its potential impact on you.

The image shows a young woman sitting down and she looks extremely sullen.

What Is Mental Filtering?

When someone uses a mental filter, they filter every thought and occurrence they have and only register the negative information. In short, people with mental filters focus on negative aspects while ignoring positive ones. For example, let’s say you’re a straight-A student and receive a C on one of your reports. With this cognitive distortion, you would ignore all of the assignments where you’ve received praise and good grades and tell yourself that you’re incompetent and a horrible student. In reality, you are an intelligent student who didn’t have the ideal results for one of your exams. 

Consequences Of Mental Filtering

Having a sustained negative view of yourself can lead to serious side effects. When you have reoccurring negative thought patterns, it can result in depression, low self-esteem, and a pessimistic view of the world. One of the difficulties with mental filtering is finding yourself in a hard-to-escape cycle. So, you’ll constantly have a negative outlook, which results in you being in a poor mood, which leads to more mental filtering. 

Mental filtering is one of the most common cognitive distortions that people with depression suffer. Because of this, those who undergo cognitive behavioral therapy for depression will most likely have a treatment plan that includes helping them recognize their mental filtering patterns.

The image shows a man sitting at a table in what appears to be a cafe and he has his head in his hands.

How To Overcome Mental Filtering

If you constantly assume the worst and you’re suspicious that you’re falling into a mental filtering pattern, take a moment to look at the evidence in front of you. Then, instead of automatically discounting the positives in the situation, take a deep look and examine the facts.

One idea is to practice cognitive restructuring and make an argument for the opposite of your negative thoughts. Forcing your brain to focus on the positives, you will train your brain to recognize when something good happens automatically. You want to challenge yourself to replace the harmful thoughts with positive ones and give yourself a chance to acknowledge the positives in a situation. It’s essential to be aware of your thoughts so you can stop the negative thinking patterns and improve your mental health. 

The image shows a woman who suffers from mental filtering and she's sitting on her couch with her face in her hands.

Overcome Your Distorted Thinking With A Cognitive Connection

Whether you’re battling mental filtering or another form of distorted thoughts, A Cognitive Connection is here to support you throughout your journey and give you the tools to improve your way of thinking. Living with cognitive distortions can be overwhelming, emotionally draining, and isolating. To take back control of your life and learn how to overcome your distorted thinking, contact the team at A Cognitive Connection today!

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