Overgeneralizing an unsafe world

I’ve written before about cognitive distortions, and in this post I’m going to focus on overgeneralization.

When something bad happens, the message I take from that is the world is an unsafe place.  This feeling of being unsafe spreads from whatever is related to the problematic event to the world in general.  People hurt me, and therefore I shouldn’t have people in my life.  I push away everyone indiscriminately, because I feel like I can trust no one.

Recently, something negative happened to do with one of my jobs.  I turned to one of my favourite maladaptive coping techniques, avoidance, to pretend that this just wasn’t happening.  Despite my attempts to pretend, I felt unsafe.  So when a friend tried to get in touch with me, I stayed in my figurative cave and didn’t respond.  I felt unsafe talking to anyone.  This friend kept trying for a while, although in my warped little mind they weren’t trying hard enough, and then appeared to give up.  It was a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy; I felt unsafe and found a way to prove to myself that this person was unsafe.

I don’t like that I do this.  It’s maladaptive, but I seem to be unable to recognize that until after I’ve kind of made a bit of a mess of things.  The problem is, I’ve accumulated so much evidence over the last few years that the world and the people in it are unsafe.  I truly don’t believe this is a cognitive distortion, and I could come up with a pretty long list of specific examples.  So with all this evidence the question becomes how to convince myself that the same pattern is not necessarily going to repeat itself in the future.  It just seems so naïve to expect that the future is just magically going to be different from the past.

I don’t have any insightful conclusion to this post.  It seems weird to think that not all that long ago I had a very optimistic outlook and I thought the world was generally a good place.  Maybe I’ll get back to that someday, but right now I’m just not sure how to even begin to transition back to that.

26 thoughts on “Overgeneralizing an unsafe world

  1. eirlysgwenllian says:

    I’m struggling a lot with this too, which usually results in me avoiding anything that can be possibly unsafe as well. and for me too it isn’t an outlook I’ve been always having. So I hope with time we both we’ll get back to looking more optimistically at the world and people in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeanne says:

    Possibly a memory trigger… this recently happened to me… i was forced to step out of my comfort and a shark attack occurred… not a literal shark… but it left me flailing. Now i sit in the dark trying to make sense of this world im forced to live in… dont get me wrong… i love where i am now with the move… but a recent incident is sending me reeling backwards. Ouch! Hang in there Ashley… 🧡j

    Liked by 1 person

  3. iwalkwithalimp says:

    I have the same situation, where I feel unsafe in the world. It prevents me from venturing out beyond my own little community and exploring all the wonderful things life has to offer. It’s something I’m working on. I also have trust issues, but I’m trying to live my life with the philosophy that most people are pretty trustworthy and to give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove to me that they can’t be trusted. I’m following you but I’m not receiving notifications of when you post, so I’ll keep checking your page. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. BeckiesMentalMess.wordpress.com says:

    I’ll tell you, Ashley, with all that has gone wrong over the last months, and all the powers that be with whom I have had to deal with…The State of NJ, and the lies… I have lost faith in the so-called system.
    In my personal life, I have 4 very close friends. That’s it. That’s all that I can handle. I too have trust issues. I struggle with letting my guard down with people because I have been screwed so many times by people who were supposed to be family and/or friends, and for that matter a man who I thought loved me, but I was used for money. (That was back in the day when I worked my tail off).
    I feel closer to people here… On WordPress because of the common ground, we stand upon. Personally speaking, I don’t know what I would do without all of you guys.
    I certainly don’t blame you for how you feel at the very least.

    Liked by 1 person

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