Mental Filters

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Featured Articles | 0 comments

Mental Filters

I came across this photograph while searching on “world view.” It immediately struck a chord and took me back to a dream I had long ago. In the dream, I lived in a world of black-and-white working as an ice-cream cone delivery person. My job was to carry armfuls of ice cream cones through the obstacle-filled world of black-and-white and deliver them safely across the bridge to the people who lived in the world of color.

In my world of black-and-white, there was poverty, homelessness, mental confusion, and a pervasive feeling of desolation. The colored world, in contrast, reflected outward beauty, internal ease, and comfortable satisfaction. In the dream, I was angry and envious of those who lived in the world of color. I wanted to punish them so I intentionally let their ice cream cones melt, then blamed it on circumstances beyond my control. No awareness. No accountability for my actions.

It took years before I realized that both worlds were one in the same. If I change how I see the world, I’ll change my life.


Ah, mental filters. In the field of Psychology, the word mental filter refers to a cognitive distortion whereby a person focuses on the negative aspects of a situation while “filtering” out all the positive ones. Using my dream as an example, my mental filter was one of lack. I didn’t have what others had which made me feel bitter, lonely, and green with envy. What I didn’t see was how fortunate I was to be employed in the world of black-and-white; how I had a place to live, food to eat, and a healthy body that allowed me to move from one world to the other, and back. This isn’t to say we should negate the existence of the bad, but rather recognize when there is an imbalance, and to challenge yourself to find the good.

One world, different lens. Your choice.

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