"Stop me if you've heard this before," you're probably thinking, "another article on cognitive distortions?!" Yes, this is indeed another article on those distortions. Why am I tackling it again? Well...I'll put it like this: by me writing more on my personal life and the things I go through, I assume you like my work and want to hear more from me.
Well, to a lot of people, that always isn't the case. This article covers another common cognitive distortion: overgeneralizing. In this distortion, someone comes to a conclusion based off one incident that happened in the past. Similar to jumping to conclusions, someone assumes that the worst outcome will occur over and over again.
However, there is a distinction between the two. In jumping to conclusions, someone knows how the other person is feeling or what they are feeling and know exactly how that person works. However, in overgeneralizing, they only know that certain area of struggling that person is in.
For example, a student may study very hard for a mid-term and then they receive a poor grade on it. The student concludes that they are a dumb person, they suck at school and academics, and is meant for failure. Sounds a lot like jumping to conclusions right? While yes, the student is "concluding" that they aren't a good student, no one knows that may be the only thing worrying them or bringing them down.Overgeneralizing typically results in important errors in thought and causes a lot of mental pain. It derives from drawing conclusions from the past and amplify that past failure over and over again. Whereas jumping to conclusions focuses on many situations triggering different negative outcomes and conclusions for someone.
However, overgeneralizing has been proven to be very ineffective because it can be highly inaccurate. What does this mean? Well has someone ever asked you out on a date, you went on the date, and then the person never asked you out on another date after that? There are many possible outcomes here. The person could have just wanted to get to know you and share a dinner with you as a friend, they could have wanted to spend time in a friendly way, or maybe develop a friendship with you where you go out and hang out regularly. Then over time, that could turn into a relationship.
Or...the fact that they didn't ask you out again after that means that it was just a one-time thing, they don't like you, they went out with you out of pity, and you were meant to be alone forever. Just because you were not asked out on another date. As demoralizing as that may sound (or maybe could be), is it always true? Not at all!
If you really think about it, you should be the one following up with the person you went out with and talking to them more. Otherwise, they will be the ones coming up with the distortion that you don't want to see them. This isn't to say that you are anti-social or lack communication skills and it is intimidating at first to be in a relationship, but you have to put in work as well.
By not following up or talking, the thought sets in that you don't like the person you went out with and they won't pay attention or give you time anymore because they feel that they are not worth your time. See? You're not the one with the distortion: they are. Because you are ignoring them. Whether or not it is intentional or not, that is the case.
More often than not, when people experience setbacks, painful emotions go along with them. The stronger the emotion, the more likely it is to trigger negative thoughts and results in us failing to believe a distortion exists. However, it is more than just a state of mind that takes control of one's mind in this case: they distort reality and believe the worst is always to come for them. But you the old saying: "when you assume, you are being an ass to you and me."