Distortion 3: Mental filtering

[Continuing my series on some of David Burns cognitive distortions. It helps me to really see them for what they are and how I apply them to my thinking.]

When our minds mediate the events we experience, ideally we get a good balance of the positive and negative aspects–the truth, essentially. But often we filter things out so that we can hone our attention in on only some aspects, and usually these are negative.

If we are depressed, our filter is clogged so that the positives don’t even get through. I don’t know about you but one person comes to my mind as a master “filterer” like this:




“Everything I touch gets ruined!

When I was a kid, my parents called me Charlie Brown…and Eeyore…often. I think they were well-intending; they were hoping that I would hear that and choose to change or show ’em wrong. Instead, I filtered it and internalized the notion that I really WAS like him. Like Eminem, “I am whatever you say I am.”


Think about this very seriously: if you have the power to choose your behavior based on that logic, then you necessarily have the power to choose not to behave that way too.

Even when you are telling yourself, “You’re not going to make it. You will fail,” you are proving that you at least have an option. Even your negative subconscious is holding out for you!


One thought on “Distortion 3: Mental filtering

  1. Dave Jenkins

    Universal application- Thanks for sharing the thoughts on Burns. His work has now found its way into the words of most encouraging people today.
    [It’s great to see you have been reunited with themonster.]


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