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Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Signs of those suffering from automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs.


When they look at the past, they feel regret.

When they look at the future, they feel anxiety and pessimism.

In the present moment, they're bound to find something unsatisfactory.

The lens through which they see themselves, others, and the world has a dim grayness.


Negative thoughts affect your body


When your mind is burdened with many negative thoughts, it causes deep limbic problems (irritability, moodiness, depression, etc.).


Mark George, M.D., from the National Institute of Mental Health, demonstrated an Enhancing Positive Thought Patterns phenomenon in an elegant study of brain function. He studied the activity of the brain in ten normal women under three different conditions: when they were thinking happy thoughts, neutral thoughts, and sad thoughts.

happy thoughts -> a cooling of the deep limbic system.

sad thoughts -> a significant increase in deep limbic system activity.


"Thinking" principles to heal deep limbic systems (modified)


Step 1: Realize that your thoughts are real

  • they have a real impact on how you feel and how you behave.


Step 2: Notice how negative thoughts affect your body

e.g. muscles become tense, hearts beat faster, hands start to sweat


Step 3: Notice how positive thoughts affect your body

e.g. muscles relax, hearts beat more slowly, hands become dry


Step 4: Think of bad thoughts as pollution.

  • Thoughts are very powerful. Every cell in your body is affected by every thought you have.

  • That is why when people get emotionally upset, they frequently develop physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches.

Step 5: Understand that your automatic thoughts don't always tell the truth.

  • You don't have to believe every thought that goes through your head. It's important to think if your thoughts help you or hurt you.

Step 6: Talk back to ANTs.

  • Believe that it is up to you.

  • You can learn how to change your thoughts, and you can learn to change the way you feel.

  • When you challenge a negative thought instead of simply believing it, you can correct it and take away its power over you.

Step 7: Exterminate the ANTs. 🐜

  • Think of these negative thoughts that invade your mind like ants that bother you at a picnic.

  • 10-20 negative thoughts = 10-20 ants at a picnic -> may cause you to pick up and leave.

  • Whenever you notice these automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs, you need to crush them or they'll ruin your relationships, your self-esteem, and your personal power.


Learn the 7 Types of ANT Species


Always/never ANTs.


think in absolutes

use words like all, always, never, none, nothing, no one, everyone, and every time

E.g. I never do well on essay tests.


Just the Bad ANTs.


* Focusing only on the bad side of any situation.

* E.g. I only got a 90 out of 100 on the exam. I’m worthless.


Guilt-Beating ANTs.


* Use demotivating words like should, must, ought to, or have to

* E.g. I should work on the outline for my term paper, but I don’t want to.


Labeling ANTs.


* Attaching negative labels to yourself, which keeps you stuck in your old ways.

* E.g. I’m a lousy student.


Fortune-Teller ANTs.


* predict the worst possible outcome with little or no evidence.

* E.g. The other students are going to hate my speech.


Mind Reader ANTs.


* It thinks it knows how others think and feel without even being told

* E.g. My study partner must be mad at me because she didn’t reply to my text right away.


Blaming ANTs.


* Blaming others for your problems

* -> prevents you from admitting your mistakes or learning from them.

* E.g. It’s my teacher’s fault I didn’t get a better grade.


Practice affirming yourself every day


  • Knowing you have the ability to manage stress and other life difficulties can help boost confidence and self-empowerment, further promoting faith in yourself.

  • You can simply search online for ‘positive affirmations’ or ‘guided meditation’ on different platforms like YouTube

  • Make it a habit:

    • Start with 3 to 5 minutes at least twice a day - upon waking up and getting into bed

    • Repeat each affirmation about a few times. Listen to yourself saying it, focusing on the words. Believe them to be true.

    • Ask a trusted person to help. Listening to someone else repeat your affirmations may help reinforce your belief in them.

    • Make your routine consistent and be patient. Try not to skip any days.


Sources



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