[fmco soundbites] Filtering out the positives

[21 June 2021] Day 21 of the fmco* in Malaysia.

The first thinking trap I wrote about was the Black and White trap. Today, it’s about the Filtering Thinking Trap. This cognitive distortion can become part of our nature because of the way we have been conditioned to process our experiences in a negative way. Sometimes, it’s also a defense mechanism to reject taking action.

Look at the picture of the coffee filter above. All you see left in the filter is the stuff we normally throw away. It’s not edible. No matter how long you stare at the picture, it’s just the same. This is what filtering is. You focus on the negative aspects of a situation and don’t see any of the positive or what is going well.

Examples of how this looks like:

  • You come home from a party and you only think about that one person that you didn’t have a smooth conversation with, rather than the four other people with whom you had great conversations with.
  • After a test, you think about the question you could not answer and forger about the ones you could.
  • You delivered a presentation at work but one person looked bored while the rest were totally engaged. So you tell yourself that you presented poorly.
  • After a performance review, you only remember where your boss had pointed out the areas for improvement, totally ignoring the parts where he/she praised you for your contributions.

When we only pay attention on the negatives, we end up viewing the entire situation as negative. In our minds, everything is negative. This can stop us from looking at all the aspects of a situation and drawing a more balanced conclusion. Consequently, our decision making become skewed to protect and defend ourselves.

Recently, I was reminded not to think like this. My training participants had rated me an average of 4.2 out of 5. I was so disappointed and focused on the 0.8 that I couldn’t achieve Until a mentor trainer helped me rethink this.

What can we do?

We just have to move ourselves to see positives.

The coffee pot is not going to move itself.

Now, do you see the coffee? Moving our framing will help us see the positives.

This is very similar to the half-glass-full, half-glass-empty situation, except with with the glass analogy, the glass has been moved for you to see both already.

(Feature Image by StockSnap from Pixabay)
(Image by Eray Genc from Pixabay)

*fmco = Full Movement Control Order


About the Author: Gina Phan is a consultant and trainer with Zinfinity Consulting. She currently conducts courses in workplace performance skills. Click here to contact her, follow her on Facebook or connect with her on Linkedin.

Read her other posts.


#thinkingtraps #filtering #cognitivedistortions #problemsolving #decisionmaking
#trainergina #ginaphan #gp

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