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How Overgeneralization Can Poison Your Relationship

Jenny's heart was pounding. 

Tears filled her eyes. 

She had just found out that her boyfriend, Tom, had been lying to her for months. 

The betrayal cut deep. She couldn't believe it. 

In her mind, all relationships were now doomed to fail. Jenny decided that day that she would never be able to trust anyone again.

Her friends tried to comfort her. 

They told her that not all people were like Tom. 

But Jenny couldn't hear it. 

She was stuck in her belief that all relationships would end in pain and lies. 

She pushed her friends away. She didn't want to risk being hurt again.

Over time, Jenny became more and more isolated. 

She spent her days alone, watching TV and eating junk food. She missed her friends, but the fear of being hurt was too strong. 

She stopped going out. She stopped taking care of herself. 

Jenny's life became a sad, lonely place.

At work, she was distant and cold. 

Her coworkers noticed the change. They tried to include her in conversations and invite her to lunch. 

But Jenny refused. She believed that they would only betray her like Tom had. 

She convinced herself that everyone was just waiting for the chance to hurt her.

Her boss noticed her poor attitude and performance. He warned her that she was at risk of losing her job. 

But Jenny didn't care. 

She thought that her boss was just another person waiting to stab her in the back. She didn't see the point in trying to improve.

One day, Jenny arrived at work to find a termination notice on her desk. 

She had lost her job. 

She was devastated. But instead of seeing it as a wake-up call, she saw it as further proof that she couldn't trust anyone. 

Her life continued to spiral downwards. She lost her apartment, her friends, and any hope for a better future.

All because Jenny had overgeneralized one negative experience in a relationship, her entire life had become a series of negative outcomes. 

Do you nurture pain and suspicion in your relationship?

Jenny's story shows  that our own mindset and beliefs have the power to shape our reality and ultimately dictate our experiences in relationships. 

This is like being a painter who, after encountering a single tube of dried-out paint, decides that all paint is useless and discards the entire palette. 

The painter then refuses to try any new colors or explore different techniques, simply because they've been scarred by that one unfortunate experience.

In doing so, the painter robs himself of the opportunity to create something beautiful, unique, and vibrant.

Similarly, when we overgeneralize negative experiences in relationships, we limit our emotional palette and prevent ourselves from growing and learning.

We discard the potential for happiness and connection with others, all because we've allowed one bad experience to define our entire outlook on relationships.

We unknowingly create a self-perpetuating cycle of pain and mistrust, pushing away the very connections that could bring us happiness and support.

To truly grow and flourish in our relationships, we must be willing to open ourselves up to new experiences and not let past negativity cloud our judgment. 

But how do we prevent this negative mentality practically?

Please read on... 

Overcoming Relationship Storms- Steps to Empower Your Love Life

Step 1- Recognizing the storm:

To break the cycle of overgeneralizing negative experiences, we must first become aware of our own thought patterns and how they contribute to our perception of relationships.

This is essential because it allows us to take responsibility for our part in shaping our reality.

To chieve this, you can try...

Embracing curiosity:

Instead of accepting your thoughts as facts, approach them with curiosity.

For example, when faced with a negative thought like "All my relationships end badly," ask yourself "Is this really true?

Are there exceptions?"

This unexpected approach helps you avoid jumping to conclusions and encourages deeper exploration.

Recording your thoughts:

Keep a journal specifically to track your thoughts about relationships. Write down instances when you catch yourself overgeneralizing negatives.

For example, note when you think "Everyone always lets me down."

This startling record will reveal patterns and help you recognize when you're caught in the storm of overgeneralization.

Playing devil's advocate:

Challenge your assumptions by arguing against your own beliefs.

If you think "I can't trust anyone," try listing reasons why you might be able to trust some people.

This astonishing exercise exposes the flaws in your overgeneralizations, leading to more balanced thinking.

Step 2- Charting a new course:

Once we recognize our tendency to overgeneralize negative experiences, we can consciously choose to create a different narrative by focusing on the positive aspects of our relationships.

This element is essential because it empowers us to steer our ship in a new direction, away from the stormy seas of negativity.

To do this, you can...

Embrace the "Flip Side" Mentality:

To chart a new course, start by deliberately seeking out the hidden positives in every negative situation.

For example, if a friend cancels plans last minute, instead of feeling hurt or disappointed, appreciate the opportunity to spend some quiet time with yourself or catch up on a hobby.

This can help rewire your brain to focus on the silver lining in every cloud.

Create a "Positivity Jar":

Get a jar and fill it with small notes, each containing a positive memory, compliment, or achievement from your relationships.

Whenever you feel the urge to overgeneralize a negative experience, pick a note from the jar to remind yourself of the good moments.

This simple  tool can act as a powerful counterbalance to negativity and help steer your thoughts in a more positive direction.

Adopt a "Gratitude Attitude":

Cultivate the habit of expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of your relationships, even when things don't go as planned.

For instance, if your partner forgets your anniversary, instead of dwelling on the oversight, focus on the love and support they've shown throughout the year.

This  can help you break free from negative patterns and foster a more appreciative mindset.

Step 3- Strengthening the vessel 

As we navigate through the rough waters of our relationships, it's essential to build up resilience and emotional fortitude.

This is crucial because it helps us withstand the challenges that come our way, without getting swept up in the storm of negativity.

Embrace the Chaos:

Life is full of surprises and not everything goes as planned. Instead of fearing the unknown, embrace it with open arms.

When we accept the chaotic nature of life and relationships, we become more resilient to setbacks.

For example, if a partner suddenly loses their job, instead of panicking, see it as an opportunity for growth and change.

Find Strength in Vulnerability:

Society often teaches us to hide our weaknesses. However, embracing vulnerability can be a powerful tool in fostering resilience.

Share your fears and insecurities with your partner and encourage them to do the same.

This openness creates a safe space for both of you to grow stronger together.

For instance, admitting that you're scared of losing each other can lead to a deeper bond and trust.

Observe the Bigger Picture:

We often get caught up in the details of a situation, losing sight of the bigger picture.

By stepping back and looking at the broader context, we gain new perspectives and insights.

For example, if you and your partner argue about household chores, try to see the larger issue at play, such as communication or teamwork.

This shift in focus can help you both find lasting solutions.


 In conclusion, addressing the issue of overgeneralization is a crucial step towards building healthier and stronger relationships.

It's natural to feel anxious or guilty after reading this article, especially if your thought patterns have affecte your relationship negatively.

Remember that you have the power to make positive changes and grow from this experience.

Don't let guilt hold you back. Instead, use it as motivation to buld a better life for you and your parner.

  Go back to>>> How to cope with Common Signs of Trust Issues After Trauma


Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


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