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Selective perception is when an individual would not attend to the other experiences in one’s life and fixates only on a particular set of experiences. This tends to occur in individuals who experience an emotional disorder such as anxiety or depression. What is common that despite other neutral or positive experiences happening in one’s life the individual attends only to the negative. By attending to the negative experiences the individual perceives the world through those negative experiences, and thus internalizes the perceptions which result from the negative experiences.

 

A case in point would be Andrea who is a loved member within the community who also has a successful business. However Andrea has had multiple romantic relationships which never lasted more than two years. If Andrea focuses solely on the unsuccessful relationships, then it would be unlikely that positive emotions or thoughts would be experienced by Andrea. This is because Andrea might believe that due to this pattern then it must be true that one is unlovable. Despite receiving opposing signals from others who express unconditional love towards Andrea such as relatives, friends and so on. This is similar to the concept of a horse blinder, in which the individual would only attend to a portion of their perception but ignore the rest.

 

When individual’s experience any troubling thought, I invite the reader to reflect on the evidence for and against that specific thought. This would help in managing the thought, due to the fact that one would understand that there is more evidence against the thought. In such a case the initial thought needs to be revised to a thought which is more in line with what is actually going on in the person’s life.

 

 

 

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt.