May 9, 2003
May 9, 2003


Are you unhappy all the time? Do you feel that members of your family don’t love you even when they profess their love? In certain cases, Internal Negative Filtering is to blame, not external sources. What a person hears is not always what is said. In such cases, the listener is Negatively Filtering (referred to as NF from now on) the information through a pre-internalized conception of who or what s/he is.

Caregivers who berate their children: “You never do anything right,” or those who imply imperfection by insisting on perfection create a Negative Filter for the now matured adult. (Caregivers can be teachers, relatives, friends or parents.) A child who attempts to attain goals beyond his/her abilities may also internalize the same “I can’t do anything right” attitude. If there weren’t such debilitating consequences, it would be a comedy of errors.

We all recognize the Negative Filter when we give a compliment and it’s turned into an insult.
Compliment: “I like your hair in an upswept like that. It brings out your features.”
Negative Filter: (NF) “You think my hair looks unkempt most of the time?”
What was meant to be a pleasant remark turns into a fracas. The NF that the receiver hears is as if the person is conveying that the usual chosen hairstyle is not stylish.

Sometimes it is just an opinion: The husband remarks, “I don’t like lamb stew.” (As the honeymooning wife places a new dish in front of her husband.)
NF of wife: “You think I can’t cook? I won awards in chef-school for my skill!”

The NF does not internalize it as a onetime statement of an individual’s dislikes. Statements which are denied as facts: A statement by a housewife about her own housekeeping: “Nancy commented on how neat and clean my house is in comparison to her other married friend’s houses.”
NF: “I saw that the garbage needed to be taken out. Why are you lying about how neat you are?

First housewife: I just stated that in comparison to other’s I keep a neat house.
NF: So now your’e saying that my house is a God awful mess!

The examples are endless for the Negative Filterer. One wonders how this distortion has come about in the inner brain of the unhappy oppositional person. Authoritarian figures in a child’s life can cause this problem. However, an individual can develop invalid impressions and then live a dissatisfying life because of his/her distortions. In adulthood we become our own caregivers. Investigating for the exact reference that caused that scarred attitude can sometimes give permission to the individual to reinforce with more positive messages.

Discovering that a teacher said: “Look at that 60% when it could have been 100 % with a little more effort.” Which had been meant to be a motivational speech, but the child might have felt, “What’s the use?” The innocent use of a NF by the teacher might have created a cyclic Negative Filter. Instead the teacher could have stated, “You really put in a great deal of work on this. You only have 40% of the work to study since 60% is correct. Are there any areas that I could help you with?” Positive affirmation will create the motivation s/he is seeking without any further comments.

Now it is time for the NF to reaffirm him/herself. To discover all his/her pleasant qualities and work on enhancing them. Then when someone compliments her/him it is believed because it is a self-truth as well. Obviously the NF person has a very poor self image/ego structure and feels that everyone is reflecting that about him/her. The NF person believes that the world is a struggle, when s/he has turned against him/herself. Nothing much can make the NF personality happy because the inner torment turns every delightful moment into a huge argument in which the NF is certain that the other person is the antagonist. The self-fulfilling prophecy of “I”m no good,” becomes true because people tire of trying to be helpful in order to reinforce positive affirmation. The individual needs to work with his/her inner child to hear without the static of warped inner messages. Easier said than done, but the first step is understanding the problem.

Practicing healing self affirmation for the hurting individual will begin the healing process. Often more work needs to be done with the help of a counselor.