Ants. First you spot one, then another and another. Before you know it, there is a whole mess of them. We all have ant problems from time to time.
This is true for both insects and our thoughts. I know what you are thinking, what do ants have to do with our “thoughts”. Hang with me, I am getting there.
You see ANTs is an analogy for Automatic Negative Thoughts. And just like the insect, negative thoughts manifest and multiply, causing problems if we don't put a stop to them.
ANTs are cynical, gloomy and complaining thoughts. They multiply all on their own. They limit us from experiencing joy, alienate us from our friends or even worse — attract us to those who are negative too, and limit our potential in all we do.
Did you know the way we think about things, determines the way we feel. Our thoughts are so powerful, they actually cause chemicals to be released in our brain. Good thoughts, feel good chemicals, bad thoughts, feel bad chemicals.
Every time we have an negative thought our brain releases negative chemicals that make us feel bad.
Every time we have a positive thought our brain releases chemicals that make us feed good.
Our body reacts to every thought we have. We know this to be true from lie detector tests.
Unless we stop to think about our thoughts they are automatic and just happen. Since they “just” happen they are not necessarily correct. Our thoughts do not always tell the truth. Sometimes our thoughts even lie to us. Gasp!
Once we become aware of our thoughts we can chose to think good thoughts and feel good or we can choose to think negative thoughts and feel bad.
That's right, we are not a victim. We can CHOOSE!
In the book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Dr. Daniel Amen devotes a whole chapter to getting rid of those pesky ANTs.
Just like the insect, there are species of ANTs, actually 9 species, that can steal our happiness and limit us in all we do!
- The “Always” Thinking Ant thinks in words like always, never, no one, every one, every time, everything.
- The Focusing on the Negative Ant only sees the bad in a situation and ignores the good.
- The Fortune Telling Ant predicts the worst possible outcome to a situation.
- The Mind Reading Ant believes that you know what another person is thinking, even though they haven't told you.
- The Thinking with Your Feelings Ant believes negative feelings without ever questioning them.
- The Guilt Beating Ant thinks in words like “should, must, ought or have to.”
- The Labeling Ant attaches a negative label to yourself or to someone else.
- The Personalization Ant takes on personal meaning to innocuous events.
- The Blame Ant blames someone else for personal problems.
Whenever you notice one of these ANTs entering your mind, train yourself to recognize the thought, identify the ANT and then step on it, not literally, but figuratively. Become an ANTEATER.
Negative thoughts diminish our desire to exercise, eat healthy, destroy our self-esteem and make us feel bad about ourselves and others. When we learn to challenge and correct negative thinking, we take away the power negative thoughts have over us and open the doors to our unlimited potential.