BY: Ashleigh Munch, MA, LLPC

We live in a world where we can, with relative ease, give off the impression that we’ve got it all together; life is easy, times are good, and we’re well-liked. In a matter of seconds, you can reduce an hour-long time lapse to seconds, you can crop out a painful trigger, or you can alter the lighting on a dark day. In reality, many of us are struggling. We’re scared to be vulnerable. We’re scared that if we let someone else in, they’ll take advantage of our vulnerabilities. We’re scared that voicing a challenge will somehow make it real and permanent.

In my counseling experience, clients in these scenarios tend to land in one of three states: rejection, desensitization, or abjection. You can think of these states as filters that alter the way we see the world around us. Sometimes they overlap and compound.

First, let’s consider the rejection filter. Here, the world is predictable. You assume you know how things will work out, and you’re confident they won’t be in your favor. Often this filter presents as discernment or caution to others, but ultimately, it is fueled by pain. People have hurt you. No one understands. Your unique identity is not accepted by those that matter to you. When you’ve been hurt, you sometimes determine that it’s better to be safe and to reject possibility. When you’re seeing through the rejection filter, the consequence is holding the world at a distance.

The desensitization filter has to do with opacity. Here, the world is white-washed or screened over. Things are static and there is nothing new to do, be, or see. This filter tends to develop as a result of emotional or mental fatigue. You might’ve started out by feeling overwhelmed … which lead to burnout … which leads to not being able to see or feel the nuance of everything around you. This filter gives off a vibe of calm or acceptance, but in actuality, is out of touch.

Then there’s the abjection filter. Here, interacting with the world is pointless. You feel like a burden and everything required of you becomes burdensome. When you make an effort, no one notices. You’re tired of trying. You used to want to make a difference but now you feel it will never be enough. You wind up feeling like nothing you are or produce matters.

Maybe one of these filters sounds familiar to you. Maybe you want to take the filter off, but have no idea how to get started. Maybe you’ve thought about starting therapy, but the thought of going to counseling is terrifying when you’re looking through these filters. I’ve been there. My clients have been there. You are not alone.

Many clients have shared with me that counseling was a key component in their #NoFilter pursuit. In having a safe, confidential, and welcoming place to process life, they began to shed the filters that were falsifying their outlook on life. It can be scary to start, but when you realize the consequences of the filters you’re wearing, it becomes worth the risk to make the call and get started. Let’s learn to let ourselves be who we are and to take life as it is. Let’s make #NoFilter happen.