We all have filters through which we process what happens to us and what is said to us. Our filters are often strongest when it comes to someone offering advice in an area where we are particularly sensitive.

For example, when someone gives me a suggestion about how to run my life, I filter it through, “You can’t tell me what to do,” and I balk. Often, after I’ve had time to think about it, I become less defensive and can consider the advice but I first need time to process it beyond my initial filter.

The idea for this column came to me after I’d had a skirmish with my daughter. Knowing she wants to lose weight, I had given her what I thought were helpful suggestions about ways to eat healthy. She filtered my “good ideas” as criticism and ended up feeling hurt.

Later, when I was trying to figure out how to avoid this in the future, I reminded myself (with much embarrassment) that I might want to practice what I preach: namely, that an answer to a question that nobody asked is a wasted answer. My daughter hadn’t asked me for suggestions so why was I giving them? I’m pretty sure if I had first asked her “Are you interested in hearing a few ideas for how to eat healthier?” her honest answer would have been, “Not particularly.” That’s because she is aware of her own filters and wouldn’t have wanted them to be triggered. Asking permission to give her suggestions would have saved us both a lot of grief.

I find myself wishing that my advice to my daughter could go through a love filter, that her reaction to my suggestions would be, “I know she’s doing this because she loves me.”

I wonder why so many of our filters are negative, causing us to be defensive? After all, we have complete control over our thoughts so why not choose a different perspective?

For example, if your boss asks to speak to you in her office what if you chose to filter it through, “Oooh, this is exciting. I wonder what she wants to tell me?” instead of “Oh, oh. I wonder what I did wrong?” You would be the one generating the thought, why not choose the one that would make you feel good instead of frightened?

Some filters are becoming endangered species. Is it just me or has the “benefit of the doubt” filter gone the way of the VCR? Some people still have one but fewer and fewer as time marches on. When did we start assuming bad intention when someone irritates us instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt? It’s one thing for a six-year-old to protest “You did that on purpose!” when his playmate trips him, it’s quite another for a sixty-year-old to have the same reaction to a slight.

We seem to have adopted the slogan I once saw on a bumper sticker: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they AREN’T out to get you!

What are your filters? What is your knee-jerk reaction when someone gives you advice? In what areas are you most sensitive and why?

Are your filters serving you well? When they are triggered, are you focused on something that makes you feel good or something that makes you feel bad? Remember, the Law of Attraction dictates that you get more of what you focus on. When my “you can’t tell me what to do” filter kicks in, my full attention is on what I DON’T want rather than what I DO want. The more I resist, the stronger my focus and the more I begin to attract people who want to run my life.

That’s why I wish we could filter more things through love. The more we interpret that people are giving advice because they love us, the more love we will attract.

When your filters are activated, what are you attracting? Is it what you want? If not, you might consider turning your existing filters in for some new ones.

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