Overgeneralizing And Anxiety

Overgeneralizing And Anxiety

You know what they say about assuming...


"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."

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there and you are not alone.

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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I'm The Person Who Always Says 'Yes' And I'm Tired Of It

I'm sorry for being blunt, but being a people pleaser is a tiring job.


Being a people pleaser runs in my family. My mom and I talk about this weakness of ours all the time, especially when we are both worn out from saying "yes" too much.

When it comes to academics, I always go above and beyond to ensure I did everything correctly in order to please the professor or teacher. If there's ever an instance where I feel as if I can't meet or complete a task, my anxiety takes over and out comes a handy-dandy panic attack. Typically, this ends with tears rolling down my cheeks, a headache, and someone telling me to worry about myself and to not stress if it's hurting me too much (if they see me panicking, that is).

Me going to check off "handy-dandy panic attack" in my handy-dandy notebook after a long day.

As a high schooler, the game of saying "yes" was easy and somewhat manageable. In college, however, that game has changed, and it has changed drastically. There was something about non-stop work that was added in… not a fan.

I don't know why saying "yes" has always been instilled in me, but I cannot think of a time when I was not constantly saying "yes" to others. The moments you will always catch me saying "yes" are moments when it comes to helping someone. Sometimes I interject myself because I feel guilty if I don't offer the help.

Of course, there are instances when I truly mean the offer I give, but then there are other moments when I highly regret asking. There have been plenty of times where I have gotten myself into too many outings at once and my extroverted-introverted self becomes beyond angry with myself.

If I say "no" to someone, there's this sense of guilt that hangs over my head for at least a week and it doesn't go away.

While I enjoy making others happy in (almost) any way possible, I believe it is time for me to start saying "no." This does not mean I will be saying "no" to every single thing someone asks me to do, but rather, I'll take a second to think about how much time and energy will have to go into the whole situation before diving in headfirst.

My new slogan will be "Just say no… sometimes."

Instead of stressing over every detail of an assignment for class, I'll stress over the major details rather than the microscopic ones. Before I interject myself into a situation, I will take a moment and think about whether my help is even necessary or wanted. This will be no easy task, especially for this anxiety-ridden people pleaser, but I am going to do the best I can. The over-achiever in me needs to sit down, take a chill pill, and over-achieve in the category of saying "no."

For those who also say "yes" way too much: breathe. The world will be okay without our help, even if it feels like it won't.

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