Filtering is something we all do, filtering out certain details that we focus on, while disregarding the rest (filtering it out). In fact this is perhaps the easiest one to understand, because we all do it (all of the time). Just take a look at the chapter on perception where we take you through this.
The problem though is the rules according to which we filter, identifying where these filters create and support distortions that negatively impact on our lives. Just take a look.
Negative filtering (or dismissing the positives). Where the positives simply don’t count, only the negatives do. Ever heard the expression, we do not see what is, we only see what we expect to see. The reason for this is that we frequently overlook ‘facts’ to the contrary. Things that we do not value. But what happens if we do not value our successes? What if we are only concerned with problems or failures?
In relationships this results in people feeling as if their contributions are not valued, useless. Internally successes do not matter. The value dissipates and so does the motivation which would come from appreciation, recognition and reward, even in the form of self-satisfaction.
So the questions are;
Are there any facts which are not being considered?
Are there any details which I may have overlooked?
What is the reason/reasons I have overlooked these?
The next chapter introduces you to various approaches to help you to see things you have not seen, to consider things you have not considered. To expand your perception and your perspective. It will also help you to recognise the nature of what it is that you filter out, and the rules that guide those filters.
One of the ‘rules’ relies on All-or-nothing thinking;
A cognitive distortion, where the reason is that nothing counts unless it is perfect. Driven by a set of standards which measures things in clear cut terms, valuing only perfect makes this distortion appear to be in the service of maintaining optimal performance levels and outcomes.
The questions or challenges.
Ask why this does not count?
What does this represent and why?
The rule itself is central to this distortion, and as a result challenging it requires an understanding of the outcome (or cost) particularly when compared with the reason for the rule itself, its intention or underlying belief. This is however explored in the later chapters on intention.
In other distortions the reason can provide clarity, but not always. Take for instance magnification or catastrophising.
Exaggerating the significance or size of something
including in the case of catastrophising the possible outcome
can at times be purely for dramatic effect, or even comic relief.
The problem is our mind cannot tell the difference between and starts believing the stories being told. Then, with everything magnified we respond emotionally to the size or magnitude of the situation or anticipated outcome.
Asking if things are really as big as they are made to appear, really as big when compared to .(something really big)..is important in identifying this distortion.
So ask yourself what is the lawyer in the case of the law asking for, and how does the increased weighting (magnification or catastrophising) or reduced weighting (minimising) serve that. Do you know what your magnification or minimisization is asking for?
Minimising is a distortion that sometimes reflect a discomfort with something, including the attention that comes with a compliment or accolade.
So asking yourself what you are asking for can help you understand the distortion. This is not always clear. In fact it generally is not. But by exploring intent both of the thought and the distortion, you will have an improved ability to challenge both the thought itself and the distortion and you will also grow as a person.
Discovering what drives you, uncovering your intentions is an intricate part of interacting with your distortions, while facing your fears and learning more effective ways of asking for what you want and need is also possible because as you will discover there is more to the distortion than pure errors of logic.
This is the case even where faulty reasoning seems to drive the distortion, in the likes of overgeneralisation, labelling, or selective abstraction.
Overgeneralising, is a cognitive distortion that involves making hasty generalizations from insufficient evidence, Drawing a very broad conclusion from a single incident or a single piece of evidence. It is very often the result of the need to save time, but it can also be because of things like a need to self protect.
In both instances it can be costly, so it is crucial that you ask where a generalisation is either negative or has a negative impact; that you ask
what purpose is this generalisation meant to be serving?
and what am I focusing on
what (other) evidence would I need to reach that conclusion.
You will discover that the piece of evidence or the fact based on which you have reached your conclusion, your generalisation represents something to you, often something that elicits an emotional response.
Recognising that feelings inform thought, it is important to distinguish this from where it drives thought. Where feelings replace facts and where facts are disregarded in favour of the feelings.
There are some cognitive distortions which are particularly prone to and reflect this, cognitive distortions that we focus on challenging in the chapter Objections, the term used in a court of law to reject the introduction of these arguments into evidence.