Time for a new filter?

What is the rationale behind this cultural phenomenon that allows people over a certain age – 70 or so – to say whatever they want? We all know someone like that, don’t we? They say any sarcastic, unkind, grumpy words that pop in their heads. We say their “filter” is gone. And we chuckle a bit, acting like they have earned that right simply by still being alive.

It’s true that I can name at least one person in my life, under the age of 70, who also needs a filter replacement. You probably know one or two folks like that, don’t you?

Here’s an interesting story…

ONCE UPON A TIME a woman bought a new home. Before she moved in, a friend told her the neighbors to the left of her new home were very odd. So HE said.

In a sense, words are encyclopedias of ignorance because they freeze perceptions at one moment in history and then insist we continue to use these frozen perceptions when we should be doing better.” – Edward De Bono

The woman chose to embrace this perception about her neighbors. And guess what? Everything they said to her made them seem odd. Funny how that works.

One day, she and the neighbors found they had a mutual friend. Hmm… the paradigm started to shift. There was common ground. Today, having been given an open door, those “odd” folks have shown themselves to be great friends and neighbors.

Okay, so you weren’t on the edge of your seat. But it is a valuable lesson.

β€œAll our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.” – Leonardo da Vinci

How about this for a confronting thought: everything I see, everyone I meet, every new experience I have, every word I hear, circulates through a filter embedded in my brain, shaped by the words I have heard since childhood. One word, one criticism, one encouraging word at a time. It is inevitable that, up to a certain age, we see things the same way the influential people in our lives see them. Whether it remains that way forever is up to us.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is – infinite.”
William Blake

How many people do you touch every day? How many hear your voice, are receivers of your mood and attitude, are affected by whatever is going on in your head? Only everyone you see, pass, speak to.
Every. one. That’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?

And what we project is rooted in our perceptions. We aren’t “bad” people…we don’t intend harm. But we judge people and situations based on our own or someone else’s limited perception. We don’t stop to think that the way we see every person and every situation is limited to what our filter allows.

Why oh why must it be this way

Before you can read me you gotta

Learn how to see me, I said

Free your mind and the rest will follow – En Vogue

The GOOD news is that, as an adult, I can create my own filter. Or is that good news? You see, knowledge brings with it responsibility. And adjusting the filter isn’t easy.

It means stopping myself every time I am about to whine, or criticize, or offer an opinion when I haven’t been asked. It means holding my peace, not riding a roller coaster of emotion and dragging everyone in my path along – whether that is in my home or in the grocery store. It requires dozens of small choices each day, requires asking myself if the words I am about to speak are true, kind and necessary. I don’t mean HUGE, life-changing words…I mean the little cuts, the sarcasm, the unnecessary comments. Are the words my own or someone else’s? Do those words support all the positve possibilities or are they rooted in negativity?

Most of all, reshaping my filter means resting in who I am, where I came from, and who I belong to. When I am confident in those things, very little can move me, and I am free to embrace, bless and truly see people in my path.

I have a filter. It shapes how I see you. And it shapes how I respond.

My response is my “voice” in this world. I can lift or oppress. I can encourage or discourage. I can embrace or push away. I can judge and condemn or be loving.

What kind of filter will I choose? What kind of voice will I be?

How about you?

Let me know what you think…