In the past decades, we wouldn’t consider most professional photos without some touching up or without or with no filters taken on a camera. Going back to the 1800’s, photographers and artists would hand-color monochrome photos. This process lasted through mid 19th century. As technology developed, changes could be airbrushed, taking away blemishes, modifying colors and even changing body shapes. The process was done by artists or photographers for magazines and other types of media.
Today, this process has been transformed to most anyone who has a phone or computer. Photos with no filters are posted millions of times a day all over the world. But there are many that are also posted with filters that can change hair color, complexions, add makeup and transform a person taking a selfie in their backyard to a remote location around the world. Filters can also greatly distort a photo. This makes us wonder what is really real. Now enter Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) with the ability to generate realistic fake video and other media and life becomes even more complicated in many ways.
Here, I want to focus on how living with no filters embraces a genuine and unvarnished approach to various aspects of life, though there should be some boundaries. We will touch on communication, self-expression, decision-making, relationships and personal growth.
All of us probably have someone in our life that speaks with no filters. Many people, as they age, care less about what people think and freely give opinions about everything from cooking to business to politics. I know you know someone like this! They don’t even think about the fact that living with no filters in communication involves expressing your thoughts, feelings and opinions honestly and directly. The no filters approach doesn’t include sugarcoating or manipulating your words merely to appease others.
This type of communication can seem abrupt and unkind, though we are usually forgiving of those older folks who have suddenly become much more opinionated. It’s a lot harder with a friend. I have one of those people in my life, so at this point, I just smile and nod my head and move the conversation forward. However, I do appreciate this person’s honesty and ability to verbalize opinions easily. There is no question about who she is and what she stands for and this is true authenticity. I’ve actually worked to apply more of that in my life.
When I think of self-expression, I always think about the tie-die shirts of the 1970’s. Shirts were accompanied by long, straight hair and even smoking the drug of your choice. Woodstock, the music and art fair held in 1969, attracted more than 400,000 attendees and also became a defining event for the counterculture, anti-establishment generation. Tie-die shirts have now come back in popularity and the drugs of choice have expanded and parents are wondering if it’s worth trying to even explain the culture of the 70’s to their children. It may seem mild today.
A no filters approach of self-expression allows one to express themselves without fear of judgement. So quirkiness, passions and even vulnerabilities are shared openly. We presently have free speech in America and it has come to the forefront in recent years with political agendas and blame with restrictions of what is called misinformation which has limited self-expression. Also, some of what has been labeled self-expression has gone far beyond protests and speeches to riots and destructiveness.
This is not healthy self-expression but anger and agendas carried out in an unhealthy manner. To express oneself with no filters at least involves considering the feelings of others and communicating in a way that makes sense and is understood.
Many of us have a difficult time making small personal decisions that can be as simple as what to make for dinner or more involved as to where to go on vacation. I respect those who are able to make decisions quickly based on their goals and core values but it can also sound too abrasive if spouted off too quickly. When I ask my husband where he’d like to go to dinner, after some back and forth, we usually decide on the same place, which is our regular little local Mexican restaurant, which I had in mind the whole time anyway.
What helps in a no filters approach in decision making is the ability to filter out impulsive or rash choices to make well-considered choices and judgments. The dinner example and even the vacation example seem minor next to huge business decisions on marketing budget and product development. But keeping the main thing the main thing with our mission and purpose based on our core values helps tremendously. I talk about this quite a bit in my book Stop Circling.
There is probably no better illustration of healthy use of no filters in relationships as in a marriage. Honesty and transparency, along with commitment, are important in building trust within a marriage. This doesn’t mean we communicate every thought that comes in our head. My poor husband would never get anything done with the amount of words that could be expressed as many realize most women have many more words to express than men. I realize this sometimes over our morning cappuccino when I have expounded on a subject and realize he’s not said a word for about five minutes!
However, the wise spouse also holds back in what not to say. A journal comes in handy for this with writing down thoughts and feelings to be able to express them in a healthy manner. This also applies to colleagues and managers. We want honesty and transparency, but also wisdom in how and what to say at the appropriate time.
This is an area where most of us need filters. Filtering out distractions, unproductive habits, irrelevant information and time-wasting events. Saying no in certain areas helps us to say yes to a better choice. Growing personally is a choice. We can stay stuck, circling in the same spot or choose to filter out activities and areas in our lives that will grant us more energy and effectiveness for our future.
Time is one of our most valuable resources, so we all need to use it wisely. Deciding to grow may involve signing up for an online course, taking a community class or implementing a new healthy exercise routine. It’s never easy to start as there are usually a million excuses that get in the way. But choosing to grow as a lifelong learner at any stage of life is one of the best choices we can make. It will keep our mind sharp, help us ride the wave of changes in our world and even provide more energy. Ultimately, having some sort of boundaries in all these areas is healthy and will impact our overall well-being.
- Review Your Core Values and be able to verbalize them in a clear, yet non-abrasive way.
- Review your Mission and Purpose statement to keep the main thing the main thing in your life and business.
- Take advantage of using a journal. This will help you put thoughts down on paper to express more fully later.
- Regularly evaluate your activities, work and responsibilities as time is our most valuable resource. Filter out the unnecessary.
The no filters approach doesn’t include sugarcoating or manipulating your words merely to appease others.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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