This is one of "22 virus definitions" (thought-mistakes that cause ineffectiveness and unnecessary negative emotions).
“When I was driving to work today, the other drivers were all so aggressive,” says Karen, who looks quite harassed.
When asked about details it turns out only two drivers acted aggressive. Two drivers out of the hundreds she shared the roads with. That’s one of the most typical thought-mistakes, and you can see why it would make you feel unnecessary negative emotions. Two out of hundreds of drivers acting aggressively is really saying hundreds of people did not act aggressively and that’s not really something to get upset about.
But “everyone is so aggressive” can easily be an upsetting thought.
When I first started writing, I would ask Klassy to edit for me, and the most common thing she wanted to change was my propensity for overstating my case. I was young and I had never thought about that before. But she would often scratch out a sentence like, “This method will work every time,” and put in something like, “It works most of the time.” And her revision was not only more true, but it was more believable for that reason. I was merely overstating my case and losing the credibility of the reader in the process.
It can be misleading in writing and it can be misleading when you think it in your head. Exaggerated thoughts makes you feel extra (inappropriate) emotions. Exaggerated negative thoughts makes you feel exaggerated negative emotions. As soon as you recognize one of your thoughts is an exaggeration, your emotions calm down quickly.
See the complete list of definitions: The 22 Virus Definitions.