What is The Mental Filter? | Assertiveness Basics

  • The Mental Filter is a Cognitive Distortion, an automatic irrational thought.
  • It refers to defining a context through only one aspect and filtering out everything else.
  • More often, we filter the positive from a context and keep the negative.
  • The negative element that we decide to keep may not have been a defining element of a context, and certainly, it is not the only one that we can use to describe it.


Examples of Mental Filter

“The day was awful.”

The day certainly included neutral or even positive elements.


“He is a horrible person”.

There are plenty of traits of a person. At least some of them are positive. We have to acknowledge them, even when they are not the predominant elements that we notice in a person.


“The business meeting was a disaster.”

You can learn from those things that went bad in a business meeting, but remember to identify and acknowledge what went well too.


How To Manage The Mental Filter


Whenever you find yourself describing a situation or a person in negative-only terms, stop for a while and try to identify the neutral or positive elements. Acknowledge and integrate them in the whole. This will gradually correct the distortion.