I am new to editing photos in general. When using the radial filter, I find that it's applying to whatever settings I customize for the filter to the entire image, not just the filter (inverted or not). I imagine it's a setting I have or something clicked that shouldn't be- just can't figure out what. thanks.
If you are using Lightroom Classic, a common cause of this issue is that the sliders for the radial filter (same applies with gradient filter and adjustment brush) are hidden, so the only sliders which the user sees then are the Basic panel sliders below, which of course do apply to the entire image. See this first screenshot with the radial filter sliders "collapsed", as the indicated arrow is pointing left, so only the Basic panel sliders are exposed.
Clicking on that arrow will expand the panel to reveal the set of radial filter sliders, which of course only work on the masked area.
Another possible cause is that the filter is inverted using the checkbox near the bottom of the panel, if that is checked the adjustments apply to the image outside the masked area, not inside. That might lead one to think the adjustment is being applied globally to the entire image.