The cognitive filter is responsible for sieving through everything the outside world throws at us, be it an unkind word or a kiss from someone we love. When a healthy sense of self-esteem is developing, our cognitive filter funnels the information received from the outside and blocks out negative input, like:
* Verbal abuse
* Parental disapproval
But since low self-esteem begins to develop in early childhood, the cognitive filter starts working wrong. Instead of blocking out all these bad things, it allows them in, keeping the positive input out instead, such as:
* Hugs and cuddles
* Attention and care
* Praise from a caregiver
* Time spent with playmates.
In a way, the now-damaged cognitive filter starts acting as our own worst enemy, constantly subjecting our still-developing minds to harmful elements while withholding the good.
What happens when our cognitive filter becomes damaged?
When our cognitive filter fails, we, like children, cannot understand which criticism is constructive and which destructive. So basically, we are left alone, at the mercy of the world around us (the parts that our cognitive filter allows in, at least).
When the filter does its job well in normal childhood development, the child maintains a positive attitude, is outgoing, confident, and doesn’t suffer from anxiety attacks.
If, however, the cognitive filter isn’t working due to LSE developing, the child will become fretful, angry, irrational, and self-sabotaging at every turn. Such distress marks the beginning of a lifelong obsession with putting themselves down without even realizing this.
Since the cognitive filter isn’t working correctly and is only exposing the child to harmful elements of the outside world, the child’s developing mind comes to see this self-sabotage and low self-esteem as normal. The status quo – and that makes it much more difficult for these effects to be reversed.
Can you fix a damaged cognitive filter?
We don’t talk of “overcoming” low self-esteem, but rather, we must speak of “unlearning” it, for that is the only way to fix a damaged cognitive filter. Since the child (presumably now an adult) has grown up to believe that his LSE and permanent anxiety are natural states, he must now unlearn them. That is the only way to make space for a healthy perception of self and combat and LSE.