Is Your Emotional Filter in Backwards?

“My counselor told me my emotional filter is in backwards.”

I was sitting across the table in IHOP from one of the guys I’ve been meeting with monthly for about five years.   Chris is a great guy who was brought up in a highly dysfunctional family and who, in recent years, was blindsided by his now-ex-wife leaving him for another man and turning his children against him.

“What do you mean, your emotional filter is in backwards?” I asked.

“Well, my counselor said that I dismiss anything positive someone says about me and let even the slightest negative comment drill down into my heart and immobilize me.”  Given his family history, I can understand that.  I can do the same thing. 

Let me give just one example.  Several years ago, I was elected by my 1,500 healthcare executive peers in Georgia to represent them as Regent for Georgia to the 40,000-member American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the premier personal membership society for healthcare leaders.  What a huge honor!  Part of what ACHE does is bestow the designation of Fellow on executives who excel in their profession and demonstrate their competence by reaching certain milestones, including passing a rigorous exam.  Besides being Regent, I have chaired and/or served on seven different ACHE committees, including the one that develops the exam that Fellows have to pass.  So I have some credibility when it comes to ACHE.

In order to help affiliates pass the exam, every year the local Georgia ACHE chapter hosts two-day exam preparation tutorials.  For several years, I have done the presentation on the overall healthcare industry.  As is common with educational programs, the organizers ask participants to rate the various sessions and speakers.

When the results came in for one of my presentations a few years ago, I was pleased to see that I received an overall rating of 4.3 on a 5-point scale.  Not bad, I thought.  But then I took a closer look and saw two things that bothered me.  First, I discovered that one of the other speakers received a 4.4 rating, beating me by a tenth of a point.  How could that be?  And second, when I looked at the individual members’ rating, I saw that one participant had only given me a 3. 

Now, mind you, 3 indicates an adequate job.  But the fact that one person considered me “adequate” instead of great really bugged me for a couple of days.  Never mind my overall outstanding rating and my ACHE credentials and track record.   All that was swallowed up by that 3 from one guy and validates that I sometimes have my emotional filter in backwards.

Chris’ comment reminded me that I need to refocus on the many blessings God has bestowed on me and learn from specific constructive criticism without obsessing on anything less than perfection.  Ultimately, continuing to allow my filter to operate in reverse betrays my statement that I am relying on Jesus for my acceptance.  It’s never appropriate to close the door to legitimate input, but neither Chris nor I need to worry about that.  In fact, we have the opposite problem.

Let me ask you, which way is your emotional filter positioned?