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ANTS or Automatic Negative Thinking ~REPOST



Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely spots. I have been very “stuck” in my healing processes as of late, and I attempted last weekend to focus on the care and feeding of others with nearly disastrous results!

I was casting around on blogs to achieve a refocus and get back on track. I went to Sources of Insight to read about productivity and got some good suggestions from my comments there, then I went back to the lovely story on The Naked Soul about “practicing” and found a mirror of my own stuck thinking – negative thinking on some of the comments there.

Lucky Ducky inspired me to repost this ANTS article, because I just needed to get my thinking un-stuck ….So here goes a repost as a Valentine to myself and hopefully to you as you might be thinking SAD with all this weather and economic strife.

Here is the list of the 9 basic trouble making ANTS in Negative Thinking These all come from Dr. Daniel Amen’s Book Healing ADD, The breakthrough program That Allows You to see and Heal the 6 types of ADD.

ANT #1: “All or Nothing Thinking. This is thinking where there is no middle ground and everything is either good or bad. One is not willing to challenge this type of thinking and look for middle ground. “There is nothing to do.” “If I get an A on this test I am a good student, if I don’t get an A I am dumb and stupid – a worthless student.”

ANT #2: “Always Thinking”. “Whenever you think in words like ‘always,’ ’never,’ ‘no one,’ “everyone,’ “every time,’ and ‘everything,’ those are examples of “always” thinking. “My wife is always yelling at me.” “You never listen to me.” This kind of ANT is extremely common and it takes practice to look out for it in your language and is the nuts and bolts of Negative Political Ads.

ANT #3: (RED ANT) Focusing on the negative. Going over and over again in your mind about the negative of yourself or a situation, cannot think of anything positive. Lots of folks with learning problems of any kind get stuck in this kind of thinking. This red Ant usually needs someone to intervene into the thinking and assist the person in making a positive list or positive experience and reading it over and over again until there is a belief system built.

ANT #4: (RED ANT) Fortune-telling. One predicts the outcome of an experience or situation as the worst possible and as impossible to overcome. “If I must get up in front of class and read with my stutter all the kids will laugh at me and think I am stupid.” When you predict that bad things will happen the mind often takes you there and makes it happen. The Red Ant also needs an intervention because it is based on deeper fears. I heard of one speech therapist who taught a kid with reading problems to get a rap rhythm going in his head and read to that rhythm – she was the most popular reader in her classroom after her performance. One needs some strategies to get the mind to predict a positive outcome and make that happen.

ANT #5: (RED ANT) Mind Reading. One is sure that they know what the other person is thinking and what they might do about what they are thinking. “Everyone at the party thought my Halloween Costume was stupid and dumb. They are never going to invite me again to the party.” One must open their thinking and tell someone what they are mind reading in others and double check because the chances are most likely that no one was thinking what you were thinking at all. One must speak out loud to clarify this thinking, and find out if it is true in order to move to the positive. One needs to work on communication skills to resolve this kind of thinking and often that feels like taking too big a risk.

ANT #6: Thinking with your feelings. “This occurs when you believe your negative feelings without ever questioning them.” Feelings are vitally important to each of us and recognizing their message and using that message to gain self – knowledge is crucial. Feelings are very complex and need more exploration and are quite often telling one about situations that occurred in the past that one has not completely worked through. “I feel stupid.” “I feel like you don’t love me.” “I feel guilty so I must be doing something wrong.”

ANT #7: Guilt Beatings. Guilt is a useful feeling if you use it like a foghorn, to keep yourself off the sandbar or rocky shoreline – it is a navigator emotion. When guilt becomes the primary feeling it is not useful or helpful. One needs to explore what is behind the feeling of guilt and not get stuck at guilty feelings. When you hear the words ‘should’, ‘must,’ ‘ought to,’ or “have to’ one can recognize they are at a point of guilt and they need to move forward. Rephrasing what is in the negative guilt mode into a positive is a helpful quick remedy. “It’s in my own best interest to do my homework and make it the best work I can do.”

ANT #8: Labeling. When you label someone or yourself with a negative label it says one is unable to deal with this person or situation in a reasonable way. One begins to expect the worst of themselves or the other person or situation. The mind races in to make it come true. ‘Jerk,’ ‘idiot,’ or‘spoiled brat,’ are all just labels that make the person or situation into a more negative hole with no ladders out.

ANT #9: (THE MOST POISONOUS RED ANT) Blame. “Whenever you blame someone else for the problems in your life, you become powerless to change anything. Many kids play the Blame Game, but it rarely helps them. Stay away from blaming thought and take personal responsibility for your life.”

Say, maybe you know of some more ANTS that you could name and define? Let me know?
What kind of Ant stomping do you undertake?

Other posts you might enjoy reading:
When in Doubt Stop and Listen
My Stroke of Insight
90 Seconds of Anger 90 Seconds of Happiness

16 Responses to “ANTS or Automatic Negative Thinking ~REPOST”

  1. Mark Says:

    This is excellent! I am so glad you re-posted this. I have already shared it with a couple of co-workers this morning. Thank-you also for the link and the mention. Take care of yourself, listen to your body and your inner voice and allow yourself to be.
    .-= Mark´s last blog ..It’s Okay When We Don’t Understand or Remember All The Wisdom That Comes Our Way =-.

  2. Patricia Says:

    Thank you for your good words and for sharing my words. My meditation retreat day was so helpful, I am planning on doing it again this weekend. Let the healing begin :)

  3. Talon Says:

    You’ve obviously given thinking a lot of thought, Patricia, and you’re definitely on a wonderful road.

    I hope you have a fabulous weekend! And I hope your meditation continues to bring you inner peace.
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Misunderstood… =-.

  4. Patricia Says:

    Letting go is such a task….up and down and round and round…this was a good reminder.

  5. Evelyn Lim Says:

    I am glad that you reposted this! Let’s not having any more ANTs continue to bite us! I am mindful of Ant #8, whether it is labeling others or judging myself! Thanks for a great post!

  6. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I do hope you have a better weekend and this brings peace to you .. you will overcome & that is what counts.

    We’re all who we are – we’re all full of love, full of goodness, and full of abilities .. whatever others think – be positive and be hopeful .. We can all learn with you – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..St Valentine’s Day, Tokens of Affection and Love Spoons =-.

  7. Barb Hartsook Says:

    Oh dear — you have named these as poisonous, and boy are they ever!

    I think we sabotage ourselves more than anyone or anything else could possibly do!

    The trick for me is to catch myself doing it. I am an encourager by nature, and look for what’s good. But wow, I can see what’s possibly NOT good, so easily. In myself and in others. But especially in myself.

    And it IS poison! I ran through these quickly, but you have got them nailed. (Or rather, your source did.)

    These are definitely Do Not’s of Biblical proportions.

    Patricia, you love to read and review. Have you ever read Shad Helmstetter’s book, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself? Or his Self-Talk Solution? I know he opened my mind to the overlap of mind, thought, and the way the (physical) brain accommodates and nurtures those thoughts. And how malleable our brains really are. Interesting stuff.
    .-= Barb Hartsook´s last blog ..How to Paint a Portrait from a Casual Snapshot – A Tutorial =-.

  8. Meggin Says:

    Just home from Hawaii and since I was w/o internet for 2 weeks, I yearned to read your blog…missed you terribly!
    Anyway, I love in Hawaii how at the end of the day, people all over stop what they are doing and for about 20 minutes, everything is quiet as they watch the sunset. Those moments of quiet each day give time for the wonder and the gratefulness of every blessing we are so thankful for. I know that here in the NW we seldom see a sunset in the winter, but the ritual of Hawaii has made me take those moments here at home and everyday, usually when I awake and before I get out of bed, I remember the sunset and give thanks and praise to The One.
    Thanks for your words of wisdom, Patricia. You always make the strings of my heart tug!

  9. Josh Hanagarne Says:

    I’m always very leery of anyone who speaks in absolutes, particularly when they’re trying to give me advice. I’m with you all the way on Ant #2. Bravo!
    .-= Josh Hanagarne´s last blog ..My Unexpected Lunch With Seth Godin =-.

  10. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia.
    I have an extremely good ant portfolio! :-) It keeps life interesting. When I was reading this, after each one I thought wryly, “Yep, I do that.” By the end I was doing a lot of Red Ant #3. Then I started to write this comment and my first sentence washed that all away. Laughing at ourselves is an excellent remedy for these.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Take a Spiritual Bawdy Break =-.

  11. Patricia Says:

    I am keeping the ants from biting by working on a vision board as suggested on your post – thank you

    I just thought thinking better thoughts would make it a better Valentines. I am very hard on myself. Old habits are hard to release and when all is not going so well sometimes they just sneak right back in.

    Thank you for the book referrals…Dr. Marshall Rosenberg also takes on self-talk in his Nonviolent Communications. This post is one that I use with children to help them understand, because it is easy ….I will add your references to my book list. Thank you

    Welcome home and your trip and sunset watching sounds like heaven on earth. It is so nice to be missed and by such a wonderful person – Well aren’t I the lucky one :)
    I thought this would be a very good self Valentine reminder!

    This has been one of the most powerful tools I have used in helping children move forward in their lives….stuck thinking of any kind is very hard for growing minds to change….it is also very problematic as the body gets stuck in hormone changes for men and women as they grow older….a thinking tune up so to speak!
    Welcome, welcome and thank you for your good and forward thinking comments.

    I do think laughter is the very best medicine and then again having a good visit with Davina can truly shake up my thinking! It is so good to say things out loud….some times hearing myself say something into the atmosphere really makes me laugh and laugh….Thank you friend for all that you do….

  12. Mama Zen Says:

    Excellent post! I have to be particularly careful about mind reading!

  13. Patricia Says:

    Mama Zen,
    I bet you are very good at mind reading :)

  14. J.D. Meier Says:

    I like your persistence and your intellectual prowess.

    I think knowing the ANTs is a powerful way to challenge your thinking. A lot of our negative thinking really is automatic, and it’s our explanatory style and the stories we tell that contribute to our positivity.

    In terms of finding a way forward, I’m a fan of focusing on a single compelling vision of the future or a metaphor that reminds me of where I want to be. It’s these little head-movies that go a long way.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Love Quotes =-.

  15. Patricia Says:

    Head movies…what a great description. I am busy doing Evelyn Lim’s Vision boards this weekend for my Valentines celebration and that is making the venture fun also.

  16. Davina Says:

    You’re welcome :-) My pleasure.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Life Coach for the Knobs =-.