A filter is a device that removes unwanted and harmful stuff from whatever passes through it. If you want to drink clean water, you run it through a filter attached to your faucet. And in theory the device will filter out all the harmful stuff and leave you with clean, and great tasting water. The water has been changed.
Filtered water is often a very good thing.
Our lives are seen and lived through the lens of our experiences and what we’ve learned. These become our perceptions, which in turn are our reality. Whether they are based in fact or not is irrelevant, because we don’t know our truth at that time.
When I was in therapy, my therapist would say to me, “Shelly your filter is off kilter.” Thoughts or feelings would go in and they would filter through my past experiences of coping, how others portrayed me, my perceptions, and my reality. At that time, I was in a relationship that was emotionally abusive. My ex-husband had narcissistic tendencies. My life with him left me in a tangled, blubbering mess.
Growing up my father was an abusive alcoholic. I grew up devoid of affection from my parents, made to feel stupid, and ugly. My reality of myself was shit.
When I tried to make decisions on what I wanted or needed they went through a very cloudy filter, and would remain stuck. I made very little progress until I cleaned out my filter.
Do you run your life through filters? Do you filter your goals, your values, the expectations you have for yourself through filters before making a decision?
What are the types of filters we have?
The expectations of family, friends, society, culture
This is anything that puts rules on you on how you should live. Let me note here, if you want to live the way others want you to, more power to you. The issue arises when you follow along because you think you should.
Shoulding is a lens we filter our lives through. We ask ourselves before we make decisions, is this what I should do? Is this what my family would want me to do? A photo taken through a filter is not a true representation of the object. Sure, it may enhance the view, but the natural beauty and true potential of what lies on the other side of that photo is lost.
What others may think of us
In 2010, I had started rolling the idea around in my head about moving to Colorado, in part to get away from the shit storm that had become my life, and because I love Colorado. For two years I ran that idea through the filter of what others would think of me running off and leaving my kids (even thought they were grown), and my grandkids. Would I be seen as selfish? Or crazy?
It wasn’t until I completely lost it one morning and seriously thought of running my car into a moving train. That was a wakeup call. I saw my life through a different filter at that moment.
I quit my job, sold my stuff, and headed to Colorado for eight months. Best decision I ever made.
How others see us
If your desire to make meaningful change and you’ve been pretending for many years to be someone you are not, taking that mask off may freak some people out.
Like my blog? But me a cup of coffee!
How can you clean up your filters and live a life that runs freely of your own creation?
Clean up your self-worth filter
I’ve had people crap all over me. Being insecure, and of low self-esteem and self-worth I was easy prey for predators. It wasn’t until I began to love me as I needed to be loved, that I began to stand up for me. I loved me I would love others in my life and I developed a fierce sense of self-worth.
When your self-worth is off the charts, what you will and will not tolerate is easy to determine.
Create your core values filter
Do you live your core values, your true core values? I am not going to write much here, instead I am going to link you to a core values exercise I do with women all the time. I will say, I find core values very important because they act as a road map. If they are your core values, it’s your road your travel.
Stop living through the filter of worry
You can’t control what will happen, even if you take great pains to minimize the disasters. Sure, we all worry. A couple of years ago my partner Steve was diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolisms, i.e. blood clots on the lungs. That can kill people. So yes, I worried. But I still moved forward as I worried, knowing that it didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do, Steve would either get well or the blood clots could burst. Â I didn’t make decisions based on what might or might not happen.
Can you minimize risks? Sure. Â I love to hike 14’ers (14,000 and higher mountains) in Colorado. I did worry because of the unknown. However, I did my research and learned how to be safe and successful while on the mountain.
Let go of the false perceptions filter
I am not those things I’ve been told I was in the past. I know exactly who I am. It took some work on my other filters to get to this point, but my life decisions are now based on a true representation of me.
Doing these four things will allow you to write, create, and live your own story
Because I have done every single one of the things I wrote about, my life is now damn near perfect. It’s been a struggle sometimes. There were moments I fell back into old unproductive thought patterns and habits, but it’s easier to get back on my path now.
Would love to hear your thoughts! Just leave them in the comments.