Negative Filtering is the next thing we need to look at when trying to understand what works against us in setting and achieving our goals. This is an especially important concept to understand since negative thinking, rather than positive thinking, is prevalent among the majority of us. But why is that? If we can actively choose to think positively, rather than negatively, why do so many of us choose negativity?
It typically starts during our childhood. We want to be accepted and loved unconditionally. Our parents give us reinforcement, however, largely based on our behavior – which is perceived to be conditional acceptance. We, in turn, then try to get attention or seek praise and approval through our achievements and accomplishments. The reality for most of us is that when we behaved correctly during childhood, it was expected and therefore no one really gave us reinforcement. In other words, because it’s how we should have been behaving anyway, we didn’t really receive positive reinforcement. When we misbehaved, however, we got the attention of our parents or teachers, etc. We didn’t get caught doing anything “right.” We did, however, get caught doing things wrong. Even if our parents were great at giving positive reinforcement, we still were exposed to negative thinking and attitudes by other people in our lives – other family members, teachers, friends, managers, etc.
With the lack of positive reinforcement, we can begin to doubt ourselves and also other people. Some of us may try to protect ourselves by developing defense mechanisms. With those defense mechanisms in place, our mind filters things (new information, ideas, etc.) through negative thinking. We can become closed minded. We often develop judgmental attitudes and our thoughts are often motivated by fear and not possibilities.
More damaging results surface when we believe the negative things we’re told about ourselves by others. If we don’t realize this is happening, it can keep us from achieving more in our lives. We can end up living our lives totally under the influence of negativity. Sadly, many of us won’t achieve in life even a portion of what we’re capable because of this negative filtering.
To overcome the self-limiting that comes with negative filtering and thinking, we have to change our mindset. We have to become possibility thinkers and doers. We have to permanently change our attitudes – that change ultimately impacts our overall life performance.
Next Week: How lack of follow-up affects us in achieving our goals.