Be Careful – When you Focus, You Filter

when you focus you filter

Have you ever watched a newborn baby take in his world? His wide eyes are looking at everything, but are not focused on anything yet. What he sees must be overwhelming. There is so much to take in. Eventually, he learns to filter out some of his surroundings and focus on one thing at a time…mama, dada, bottle. That’s not so overwhelming, and he can learn more easily. Be careful – when you focus, you filter.

But it’s important to stay focused, right? Of course. But each time you focus, you sift out anything you consider extraneous. A filter is a great tool unless you start believing that what you are focused on is all there is, and that what you filter out doesn’t exist. That can cause trouble.

Each time you focus, you filter out everything you consider extraneous.

I was looking inside the refrigerator door for Worcestershire Sauce and didn’t see it. I knew it was on the grocery list, so Bruce must have forgotten to buy it. I got irritated, and asked sarcastically, “Hey, where’s the Worcestershire Sauce? You forgot to buy it!” He grabbed the door of the refrigerator, pulled out the brown bottle, and demanded, “What’s this?”

It was Worcestershire Sauce, but he had taken the paper wrapper off. I had never removed the entire wrapper, only the top, above the band. Since I didn’t see that paper around the bottle, I didn’t see the Worcestershire Sauce.

My filter sabotaged me in that small way. But your filter can really interfere with your success if you filter out:

  • Something because of its shape, color or texture?
  • All the complements you get, hearing only criticism?
  • Warnings you disagree with?
  • People who think differently than you?
  • Sources outside your comfort zone?
  • Criticism, because you don’t like it?

Be careful, because when you focus you filter. Try removing a filter sometimes. You might find that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.