At last glance one of my email spam folders had over 400 unopened emails. I rarely remember to visit the spam folder. When I do visit it, I occasionally am surprised to find a relevant email from someone I know, but most of the time the emails live up to their label: spam.

Our minds also have a spam function. We are inundated with so much information at any one moment that we must have a mechanism to screen the information. Only the information that is deemed relevant and important is allowed access to our awareness. 

But unlike email filters, our mind’s filter is biased towards problems and negativity. There is good reason for this.The function of our mind is protection. Therefore, the mind is overly focused on threat and danger. Have you ever experienced food poisoning? I did, nearly 20 years ago. And I can still remember that day like it was yesterday. I can’t remember what I ate for dinner a week ago, but I can remember what I ate on that very painful day. Why do I remember it so vividly? Because it was a very painful experience, and I never want to experience that again. 

So, our mind is slanted towards looking for and finding problems and threats. Any information that supports this is allowed access into awareness. But more positive information may be “sent to spam.” 

All hope is not lost. This means that we would benefit from taking a more active approach in being aware of how our mind works. We can notice its proclivity for the negative. Rather than trying to wrestle negative thoughts to the spam folder (which is usually a losing battle), we can understand that our mind’s emphasis on problem solving is a sometimes inconvenient part of being human. We can practice noticing when our minds are stuck in the negative/problem filter, and we can make the choice to gently return our attention to the present moment. 

So, don’t let the mind’s negativity filter dominate your life. Notice how it emphasizes the bad and often screens out the good, and consider how you want to respond to your thoughts. We often don’t choose the thoughts that show up, but we can choose how we respond to our thoughts.  

Hopeful Hint: Negative thoughts and experiences may feel stronger than positive ones, but your negative thoughts don’t have to dictate your actions.