Why “Always” isn’t Always Good – Generalisation

February 14th, 2021,

Generalisation – the Scourge of Generalising

We’ve all been there: expected rejection letters from every company after receiving one rejection letter, believed you weren’t worthy of a placement because two schools rejected you, or refused to drive after a car accident. We just don’t want to relive the disappointment… so, we expect it before it can affect us all over again. Generalising can range from small things like thinking the bus is always late to believing you will never find love again because Bob left you. We all do it, and it’s often not harmful – though not beneficial for our mental wellbeing – but sometimes it’s connected to depression and other mental illness.

What is Generalisation?

Generalisation is when we fall into the trap of assuming the outcome of one specific experience will become the outcome of many more experiences as well.

If life has taught us anything, it is to learn from our mistakes… but at what cost? What happens when one setback stops us from trying? Does one rejection letter define your ability to succeed? What happens to our mental health and productivity when we generalise all of our experiences?

How to Deal With Generalisations

There are a few ways with dealing with generalisation, and it’s the way you treat above situations habitually:

Beneficial: Staying positive and challenging our negative thoughts – balanced processing of situations and thoughts

Less beneficial: Trying to keep an open mind

Non-beneficial: Assuming it will happen all the time

When one door closes, another one opens – when one relationship ends, another one can begin – so, the result of one experience does not determine the outcome of other similar experiences, rather it is how we learn to approach and build on these experiences that defines our outcome.

This week’s challenge: 

The next time you feel that you’ve already predicted the outcome – because it’s already happened, try to challenge your thoughts or look for areas for improvement. If you struggle with that, start with something small. It’s ok to feel let down by a negative experience. Just make sure you’re not dwelling in the belief that you are a failure because of it. If you receive a rejection letter, you may consider updating your CV or signing up for a new online certificate, but one rejection shouldn’t have you doubting yourself – or assuming that you are unqualified for any other job positions.

Have a great week, Lodestar!

Silja Litvin

Psychologist and Founder of PsycApps