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What?! Where did this come from?

I recall a subtle hint of irritation in the voice that after a long day greeted me with "hello". It's been more than 20 years, but I also remember my immediate thought which was "It must be something I've done!" The fact that I had been away all day and thus unable to do anything didn't even occur to me. It was like I carried around this filter that often ended up between me and the person I was talking to: "What you feel is probably because of me."

We all have our own unique set of filters. Thoughts, beliefs and experiences we carry with us from earlier in life which influence how we think, listen, interpret, communicate and make choices. Some are in-the-moment filters ("The alarm clock didn't go off; how am I going to be on time?") while others are ones we've carried with us since we were younger ("Maybe there's something wrong with me."). Some are limiting (“It will never work!”) while others are empowering (“Today is a new day holding new opportunities!”)

Imagine walking down the pavement and suddenly hearing a familiar voice saying “Hey, what are you doing here? So nice to see you, it's certainly been a while!” Now feel how your experience of that encounter changes depending on which filter you listen through:

1. Aaaargh, I knew I should have taken the other way home... now I won't be getting out of here for at least a good fifteen minutes.

2. Such a nice surprice! Lucky me I didn't take a different route home like I first intended!

3. Goodness, I really need to pee...

4. I'm so glad to see a familiar face.

5. Hmm, I wonder if I should say something about her having food between her teeth? 6. She's probably just being polite and talking with me to be nice.

7. Did I turn off the stove before I left?

Sometimes our filters are easy to identify and address ("I've been sleeping poorly for a couple of nights.", "I hurt my toe.", "At work they talked about downsizing but what does that mean for me?") and they don't have to be what decides how present we are in a conversation or which choices we make. But sometimes we are so used to them that we don't notice that they are filters and instead think of them as truths ("No one really likes me.", "I must have been born with bad luck.").

But that doesn't mean they are true. Often they are things we have been told or conclusions we have drawn while growing up and sometimes we need to challenge them a little. The first step is oftentimes just to become aware of them, to start listening to the inner dialogue we all have. "This interpretation I make… what I hear in these words… who taught me that?" "I have a thought that it's not okay to be vulnerable or ask for help. Where does it come from?"

It is important to know that our filters are not bad. They can help us identify needs we have. They can also give us increased understanding and empathy towards other people and their filters. But if we experience them as loud, limiting or contributing to us not feeling well, then maybe it's time to sit down and start listening to what they have to say. What task does this filter have in my life? In what way has it served its purpose? And do I want to keep it or do I want to choose a new thought?

These are examples of things we can look at and work on together in coaching sessions. Would you like to know more? Please read on about how I work here on this website. Are you wondering if this could be something for you? You are very welcome to book an exploratory call free of charge to talk about how this could be of help to you where you are in your life:



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