Do you ever find yourself overgeneralizing your experiences?
I am often guilty of falling into this habit. Example, recently I was involved in an annoying altercation with some strangers in a store. I felt that I was in the right, they felt that they were the right, we had a bit of a standoff, it was silly.
Instead of walking away thinking, “man, those people were rude”, I started overgeneralizing by saying things like, “ugh the world is a cruel place, humanity is awful, I hate everyone and everything”.
In reality, I know that what I am saying is not true, but just by saying it, I create that experience and feeling inside.
Overgeneralizing happens a lot when people talk about “luck”. Something bad happens and someone reacts by saying, “oh this is just my luck, I have such bad luck”. In reality, they are only reacting to one isolated event, or maybe a couple other recent events, and in fact their whole life is not unlucky.
It is dangerous to overgeneralize your negative experiences, because it can trick you into believing that the world is a bad a place.
Some of us, more so then others, take things really personally. It is hard to be a human in this world when you take things so personally. It is not a character flaw, it is due to being sensitive, but boy can it be frustrating when you feel so much!
Every little altercation, or perceived wrong doing from someone else, is felt very deeply in a negative way.
It takes me hours, if not days, sometimes longer depending on the severity of the event, to get over negative experiences with other people. Little things will eat away at me for much longer then I would like. (I have noticed that it is taking me less time to get over things now, there is hope!)
By overgeneralizing your experiences, you turn molehills into a insurmountable mountains.
It is hard to control your physical and emotional reactions to altercations with others, your adrenaline starts going and you might get flustered, angry, sad, overwhelmed etc.
You can start gaining some control over your physical experience, by controlling your mental reactions.
Try talking yourself out of the unreasonable reality that gets created by overgeneralizing. Remind yourself of the logical truth. Try to refrain from using general terms like “everyone”, “everything”, “all the time”, etc.
Everyone isn’t rude and mean, bad things don’t happen to you all the time, everything isn’t always hard.
Try to see the bigger picture. If it is an altercation with a stranger on the street, try to consider why they may be acting the way they are. It’s not always about you!
Maybe that person was rude because they were having a bad day, wrong place wrong time etc. They weren’t rude to you because the world is out to get you. (which is what we overgeneralizers often think)
I definitely have not mastered the skill of not taking things personally and overgeneralizing my experiences, but, I am starting to make progress and that is satisfying.
If anyone feels like sharing advise or experiences on the topic of overgeneralizing, please feel free to leave some comments! It’s always nice to learn how other people work through these things.
If all else fails, remind yourself that there is good in the world. It can feel like a harsh world sometimes, especially if you are sensitive, but there is beauty if you chose to see it.