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How to Filter out Mental Filter

A woman saying no to negative thoughts

Imagine standing in a beautiful garden, surrounded by vibrant colors and fragrant scents. The sun is shining, and a gentle breeze blows through the trees, creating a symphony of rustling leaves.

However, instead of basking in the beauty of the moment, you find yourself fixating on a single withered flower at your feet. You focus on its wilting petals, its drooping stem, and the fact that it stands out among the other healthy flowers.

This is the power of the mental filter – the ability to dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives. It is as if looking through a pair of glasses that only allows you to see the flaws and imperfections of a situation while blinding you to the beauty that surrounds you.

We covered “All or Nothing Thinking” and “Overgeneralization” cognitive distortion in previous blogs. We will focus on the “Mental Filter” cognitive distortion in this blog.

Mental Filter Cognitive Distortion

Before we jump into “Mental Filters,” let us take a recap of what cognitive distortion is.

Cognitive distortions are negative thinking patterns that can cause individuals to view reality inaccurately, leading to emotional distress and mental health issues. These thought patterns can be deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome, but recognizing and addressing them is a crucial step in improving mental well-being.

“Mental Filter” is the cognitive distortion where you tend to dwell more on the negatives as opposed to the positives.

Let us see some examples of Mental Filters:

Example 1: Namrata watches the news and only focuses on negative stories, assuming the world is a terrible place without considering the positive events happening every day.

Example 2: Nilofer looks in the mirror and only sees flaws and imperfections, disregarding all the positive things about her appearance.

Example 3: Rahul goes on a date and focuses only on one awkward moment, disregarding all the positive moments he shared with Avantika.

Negative Effects of Mental Filters

The human mind can be both a powerful weapon and a vulnerable target. Capable of creating incredible acts of imagination, it can also be susceptible to the negative effects of the environment.

Negative consequences on mental health can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including mild stress, anxiety, extreme melancholy, and even psychosis.

Mental filtering can have serious negative effects such as:

Depression and Anxiety

It's like being trapped in a dark, stormy room with no escape. Your mind is consumed by overwhelming sadness and fear, and you can't seem to shake it off no matter how hard you try. It is like drowning in an ocean of emotions, gasping for air but unable to find a way out.

Low Self-esteem

It's like using colored glass that makes everything look distorted and bleak. You constantly doubt yourself and your abilities, and you feel like you're never good enough. It's like a heavy weight that drags you down, making it hard to stand tall and be confident.

Relationship Issues

It's like trying to navigate a complex maze without a map. You are constantly second-guessing yourself and your partner, unsure of which direction to take. It's like a rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs that can leave you feeling exhilarated one moment and terrified the next.

Common Triggers

We often filter our experiences through a lens that shapes our perception of reality. This lens can be colored by mental filters, where we focus exclusively on the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive. This type of thinking can be triggered by a range of factors, from personal insecurities to societal pressures, and can have a profound impact on our mental health.

Some of the common triggers for mental filter cognitive distortion are:

1. Negative life events can be hard to overlook for somebody with the “mental filter” cognitive distortion. A person who dwells on negatives even in a positive situation, an actual negative life event can easily bring the person down making it even more difficult to look at the bright side.


1. Losing a pet that was like a family member.

2. Getting fired from a dream job.

3. Going through a painful divorce.

2. Personal insecurities or vulnerabilities can be buried underground, mental filters help bring them to the surface.


Imagine creating a reel that went viral. You keep reading the comments and how people are appreciating you but one of the people writes “Have you increased weight recently?” Now you have suddenly stopped reading all the positive comments and all you can think about is if you look fat. You watch the reel again but now you cannot stop wondering if the negative comment is true.

3. Perfectionism can make people with mental filters believe that they need to achieve something impossible. They tend to get obsessed with perfectionism. It creates an endless cycle of striving and never feeling satisfied with their achievements.


1. Spending hours obsessing over the wording of an email or text message.

2. Avoid trying new things for fear of failure.

3. Struggling to delegate tasks to others due to a desire for complete control.

How to Combat Mental Filtering

Everybody has moments when they only see the bad things and ignore the good. This inclination may indicate a mental filter cognitive distortion if it persists and takes over our thoughts.

Fortunately, there are tried-and-true strategies to escape this mental snare and broaden your perspective, including:

1. Identifying and Challenging Negative Thoughts

Sometimes, the negative thoughts that our minds produce might depress us and make us feel self-conscious. One method for overcoming this is to recognize and confront these unfavorable ideas so that we can replace them with more constructive ones.

Identify: Every time you feel you are starting to look only negatives in the situation, make yourself aware by thinking "I make mistakes sometimes, but I also learn from all oopsie-daisies and improve myself". Start by counting 5 positives in your current reality.

Challenge: Every time you feel like "I am not good enough", challenge it by thinking "I may not be perfect, but I have many qualities that make me unique".

2. Practicing Mindfulness and Staying Present in the Moment

Being totally present and misjudgingly aware of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences is the practice of mindfulness. It can aid in lowering stress, sharpening our focus, and improving our general well-being.

Example 1: Charulata uses art and creativity to practice mindfulness. She draws, colors, and paints to help her focus on the present moment and engage her senses. Writing, dancing, and singing help her connect with her emotions and thoughts.

Example 2: Digvijay practices mindful breathing by using a visualization technique. He imagines that he is inhaling a calming color blue, and exhaling a tense color red. With every breath of blue, he becomes more grounded and peaceful.

3. Reframing Negative Experiences in a Positive Light

It involves the ability to look beyond the surface-level negativity of an experience and uncover the hidden gems of wisdom and growth that lie within. It is a powerful tool for personal transformation and a key ingredient for a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Example 1: Raj has failed an important exam. Instead of dwelling on the negative, he tries reframing it as an opportunity to learn from his mistakes and improve his study habits for future exams.

Example 2: Sunaina lost her job unexpectedly. Instead of seeing this as a setback, she thinks of it as a chance to explore new career opportunities and find a job that is a better fit for her.

4. Seeking Support From Loved Ones or Mental Health Professionals

Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is reassuring to know that there are people out there who can genuinely navigate life's ups and downs with greater ease and resilience.

Example: Jagat has been dealing with a breakup. But instead of brooding, he joined a support group where he connected with others who were going through similar experiences. This helped him to get support and guidance from people who understood what he was going through.

Overcoming Mental Filter Cognitive Distortion

This requires a combination of self-awareness, mindfulness, and the willingness to challenge negative thinking patterns. By practicing gratitude, challenging negative thoughts, and seeking support when needed, you can break free from the cycle of mental filters and develop a more positive and balanced perspective on life.

Let us consider a couple of examples:

Case 1: Sameera struggled with mental filter cognitive distortion for years. She would constantly focus on the negative aspects of her job and ignore the positive ones. She would always think about how difficult her boss was, how stressful the workload was, and how she was never appreciated for her hard work.

Realizing that negative thinking was affecting her mental health, she sought professional help.

Resolution: Through therapy, she learned how to challenge her negative thoughts by asking herself:

  • Is this thought true?

  • Is this thought helping or hurting me?

  • What evidence do I have to support this thought?

By challenging her negative thoughts, Sameera was able to see her job in a more positive light. She realized that she enjoyed her work and was appreciated by her colleagues. She also learned how to focus on the positive aspects of her job and not be consumed by negative thoughts.

Case 2: Joginder struggled with mental filter cognitive distortion in his academic life. He would often focus on his lower grades and ignore the positive ones. He would constantly think about how he was not smart enough, how he was failing, and how he was letting his parents down.

Joginder recognized that this negative thinking was affecting his mental health and decided to seek professional help.

Resolution: Sessions with a therapist helped him challenge his negative thoughts:

  • Is this thought true?

  • Am I being too hard on myself?

  • How can I break this vicious circle?

This helped Joginder see his academic life in a more positive light. He realized that his grades did not define his worth. He also learned how to focus on the positive aspects by acknowledging his achievements and celebrating them.


Our minds act as powerful filters, selectively processing the vast amount of information that comes our way every day. However, these mental filters are not always accurate and can lead us down a path of distorted perception, impacting our thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

To break free from this cycle, we must first recognize their existence and learn how they affect us. Recognizing mental filters and challenging them is not an easy task. It requires self-reflection and a willingness to be vulnerable with ourselves. By engaging in activities like gratitude journaling or meditation, we can cultivate a more positive mindset that replaces negative thought patterns with more constructive ones.

Remember, you deserve to live a life filled with positivity and joy. So don't let mental filters hold you back. Take action today by joining us on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth as we explore techniques and strategies to help you break free from the confines of your mind.

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