Part 3: Filtering, ANTS Are Not What You Think! by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
ANTS Are Not What You Think! Part 3
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
We are continuing our series on Automatic Negative Thoughts. When an event happens, we have a thought (internal dialog) about it, which results in a feeling. Sometimes we have automatic negative thoughts for no logical reason that can lead to fear, sadness or anxiety. If you can change the thought, then you can manage the feelings to being appropriate to the actual situation.
This month we will devote the column to the ANT called filtering. Filtering is when a person focuses on the negative while filtering out the positive. I sometimes call it ‘doom and gloom’ and it’s a common pattern. An example of filtering would be when a person leaves the restaurant and says, ‘The meal was wonderful and would have been perfect had we not had to wait so long for our food.’ Or a child might say, ‘The teacher doesn’t like my work.’ In reality, the teacher had said, ‘This is a great paper! Let’s get the next one in on time.’
According to Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods & Your Life
by McKay, Davis and Fanning, filtering ‘awfulizes your thoughts pulling negative events out of context and magnifying them, while ignoring all your good experiences.’ It exaggerates the importance of the negative.
There are two ways to conquer filtering. One can shift focus to coping strategies for dealing with the problem such as “The next time a waiter takes so long to bring our food, I’m going to ask to speak to the manager.” The other way to shift focus is to think about the opposite of your primary mental them. For example, if the theme is disappointment like the child’s comment in the second paragraph, she could focus on approval: “The teacher said my paper was great and gave me a 92.’
We live in a time of great negativity spread by the internet, gossipy magazines and TV programs and insecure people. It could be helpful for us to learn to manage any filtering traits we have so we can focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.
More in the ANTS series:
Copyright © 2018, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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