Reduce anxiety and depression by challenging common cognitive distortions
“I would never ever in a million years, ever exaggerate.”
Our brains are truly wonderful things…most of the time. Our brains are wired to make generalizations that allow us to have a deeper and richer view of the world around us. We look for patterns and connections that we can apply globally which may often be correct! But not always. There are going to be times where our sample of experiences are too narrow to allow us to make an appropriate generalization.
This is when we may begin to overgeneralize our experiences. We take a few situations and use them as evidence that the same negative outcome will happen every time we are in a similar situation.
- I always do the dishes
- You never listen to me
- I will always get hurt
- You always lie
A telltale sign of overgeneralization is the presence of words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, ‘all’ or ‘nothing’. If you hear yourself making statements that include these words or sentiments, here are a few simple things you can do;
- Examine the evidence. Are there any times where this hasn’t been true? Is the evidence substantial enough to prove your conclusion?
- Get specific. Is the conclusion too broad based on the evidence?
- Test the thought. What do those who know and love you think about your conclusion?
If you are finding yourself getting stuck in these overgeneralizations and struggling to challenge your thoughts, we’d love to help you get unstuck!