Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

May 11, 2020

This is the third in our podcasts series on the best techniques to crush each of the ten cognitive distortions from my book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Today, we focus on Overgeneralization. There are two common forms of Overgeneralization:

  1. You generalize from some specific flaw or failure to your "Self." So, instead of telling yourself that you failed at this or that, you tell yourself that you are "a failure" or "a loser."
  2. You generalize from right now to the future, using words like "always" or "never." For example, you may tell yourself, "Trisha (or Jack) rejected me. This always happens! I must be unlovable. I'll be alone forever."

Overgeneralization is also one of the most common cognitive distortions, and it causes depression as well as anxiety. I believe it is impossible to feel depressed or hopeless without Overgeneralization.

The antidote to Overgeneralization is called "Let's Be Specific." Instead of thinking of your self as a "bad mother" or "bad father," you can focus on the specific thing you did that regret, like shouting at your kids when you were upset. Then you can think of a specific plan to correct this problem, like talking things over with your kids and letting them know that you love them and feel badly that you snapped at them.

David and Rhonda also talk about the idea that abstract concepts like "worthless" or "bad" or "worthwhile" or "good" human beings are meaningless. Good and bad thoughts, feelings and behaviors certainly exist, but there is no way to measure or judge the value of a human being.

In the next podcast in this series, David and Rhonda will discuss the TEAM-CBT techniques that can especially helpful for the next distortion, Mental Filter and Discounting the Positive.

David D. Burns, MD / Rhonda Barovsky, PsyD