In my last post, I talked about how “all-or-nothing” thinking affects how we think, feel and act, and also what the Bible says about this irrational form of thinking. The second irrational form of thinking I will discuss is called “Mental Filter.”
Mental Filter occurs when a person only focuses on negative thoughts or events that happen throughout the day and minimizes anything positive. For example, let’s say a student is giving a presentation in front of the whole class. After the presentation, all but one student compliments the speaker on a job well done. There is one listener, however, who has something negative to say about the presentation. Rational thinking on the part of the student giving the presentation would sound something like; “Well, that one person did not like what I said, but everyone else did.” Mental Filter, however, would sound something like; “Wow, my presentation must have been really bad since so-and-so did not like it.” Focusing just on the one negative thing that happened and ignoring all of the positive things is irrational thinking and can greatly harm the way we live our lives.
Mental Filter can also harm our relationships with others. I remember a female client I had who always came into my office complaining about her husband. None of her complaints were very serious, meaning that her husband wasn’t cheating on her or abusing her in any way. What she mostly complained about was that her husband did not take out the trash or he watched shows that she did not like to watch. To teach her to focus on the positive, I asked her to write 10 good things down about her husband. After my client did this, she was more forgiving of the less-than-positive things her husband did and she did not focus on the negative things nearly as much.
Phillippians 4:8 states “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Always focusing on the negative makes most people feel bad and, in turn, they may not be motivated to do what is right. This is especially true for those who say they don’t go to church because of “all the hypocrites.” No one is perfect, including those individuals who use this argument, but focusing just on those who attend church but do not live righteously overshadows the good, hard-working, faithful Christians who attend. It also keeps people from doing what they need to do which is to follow God and not forsake the assembly.
Negative thinking of any kind can hinder us from being the best servants of God we can bo. We should always think positive and trust that God will take care of us!