Home Mental Health & Well-Being Stress and Mental Health Challenges Can Alter Our Ability to Filter Thoughts

Stress and Mental Health Challenges Can Alter Our Ability to Filter Thoughts

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The concept of a “damaged filter” might resonate with many. This metaphorical filter helps us decide what thoughts we share with the world and what we keep to ourselves. But what happens when this filter is compromised due to stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health challenge?

The challenge of a compromised filter

Imagine for a moment, a dam that’s sprung a leak. Suddenly, the thoughts and feelings we’d normally regulate begin to spill out in unexpected ways. This isn’t about losing control; it’s a sign that our mental health needs attention and care. Recognising this is the first step towards managing it effectively.

First, it’s crucial to recognise what this “damaged filter” means. In the realm of mental health, it can manifest due to a variety of reasons, be it stress, anxiety, depression, or other conditions. This doesn’t make us flawed; it makes us human.

Recognising when our mental defences are compromised is the first step towards seeking help and starting the healing process. It is important to understand that being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, but rather an indication of our innate human complexity.

The concept of a trusted circle

Enter the concept of a trusted circle – a small, intimate group of individuals we trust implicitly. These are the people to whom we can bare our souls, share our unfiltered thoughts, and express our raw emotions without fear of judgement.

But why is directing our unguarded thoughts to this circle so beneficial? It’s about creating a space where vulnerability is accepted and embraced. It’s about understanding that sharing our most authentic selves can lead to a more profound sense of connection and support.

When our mental filter isn’t working as usual, we might overshare, say things out of character, or express thoughts that aren’t fully formed. It’s in these moments that having a safety net becomes invaluable.

Building your trusted circle

Creating such a circle might sound daunting, but it starts with simple steps:

  1. Identify your people. Look for individuals who have shown empathy, understanding, and unconditional support. This might be a close friend, a family member, or a therapist.
  2. Set clear expectations. Communicate what you’re looking for in this relationship. Make it known that you seek a judgement-free zone for your thoughts and feelings.
  3. Reciprocate. A trusted circle is built on mutual respect and understanding. Be ready to offer the same level of support and non-judgement that you seek.

As you build this circle, consider the dynamics of each relationship and the unique perspectives each member can bring to your life. This diversity can provide a richer, more supportive network to help you navigate through your mental health journey.

The journey forward

Adopting this technique doesn’t mean relinquishing responsibility for our words or thoughts. Instead, it’s about acknowledging that we’re all humans and have moments of vulnerability. By creating a trusted circle, we’re taking proactive steps to manage our mental health in a constructive and supportive environment.

Remember, it’s okay to have only some of the answers or to feel overwhelmed. What matters is finding healthy, constructive ways to navigate these feelings. And sometimes, the best path forward is one we walk together, hand in hand, with those we trust.

Navigating life with a compromised filter

Many of us find that at some point in our mental health journey, our filters – those mechanisms that help us decide what we share and what we hold back – might get a bit, let’s say, compromised. It’s like having a dam that’s sprung a leak; suddenly, thoughts and feelings we’d generally keep to ourselves are at risk of spilling out, sometimes in ways we might regret later.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for anyone looking to maintain their mental health or support others facing similar challenges. By acknowledging the leaks in our filters, we can approach our interactions with more empathy and patience, both for ourselves and for others.

As we continue to navigate our mental health, remember that it’s a journey of many steps – some small, some big, but all important. The key is to keep moving forward, with the support of those around us, and to seek help when we need it. This is not just about coping, but about thriving.




Maxwell E. Guttman, LCSW is a psychotherapist and owner of Recovery Now, a mental health private practice in New York City.

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