You can overcome the “negative associationâ€ť or any type of illogical thinking by realizing that you should only believe what is real and true. You are not entitled to misinterpret a situation. If someone makes a negative statement about you, it does not mean that individual is representative of their particular gender. You are making the assumption that, for instance, if a woman says something negative about you then all women are capable of the same level of negativity and are to blame. It is not logical to believe that statement. Generalizing is a type of cognitive distortion. It is an incorrect way of thinking. It is not fair to lump all women into the same group. Each individual is very unique. It would be logical to be upset with the woman who made the negative statement but not with all women.
Racism and stereotyping are based on the same type of generalized feeling or belief. Having a negative interaction with an individual of a particular race or ethnicity, for instance, should not lead one to the conclusion that all individuals of a race or ethnicity would behave in a similar manner. It would simply be an incorrect assumption. False assumptions often lead to erroneous conclusions.
The first step in correcting cognitive distortions is to be aware that they are part of your thinking pattern. Not everyone can do this but it seems you can. I believe you are keenly aware of possible cognitive distortions. Next, always examine your thoughts and search for possible cognitive errors. It is not enough to be aware of cognitive distortions. To find them, you must analyze your thinking, in an active, not reactive way. Thoroughly think through each situation. If you have a negative interaction with an individual, analyze what happened and force yourself to find the reality of the situation. Do not allow yourself to make assumptions, jump to conclusions, or prejudge a situation or an individual. Finally, you should enlist the help of your therapist in this process. He or she can help to sharpen your thinking abilities and to work with you to clarify your thoughts. Changing the way you think will take time but with continued focus, dedication and practice, you can likely succeed. Good luck and please take care.