Kill ANTS (Stopping automatic negative thoughts)
Imagine these scenarios:
You’re sending out applications to several job openings, and every single response you get is a rejection. You’ve tweaked your resume and hired the best career coaches you could afford. Yet you can’t seem to get a call back for an interview. These rejections keep replaying in your head, so you call yourself a failure. You call yourself a loser and quit searching.
Your friend is not answering your phone calls and doesn’t answer your messages. Thoughts that might be running through your mind might include: “Maybe I’ve said something that made him angry? Maybe I’ve insulted him somehow or didn’t pay much attention to the things he’s been saying to me recently?”. This causes you to feel sad and anxious.
Maybe you suffered from a bad break up when you were younger. You were so hurt that you vowed to protect your heart, never letting anyone get close to you again. But now? You’re finding it hard to trust people. You can’t seem to hold a conversation because you have several negative thoughts running through your mind. What if I get cheated on again? What if he turns out to be what I’m running away from? I’ll never find love again.
These thoughts are called automatic negative thoughts or better known as ANTs,and this article will show you how to stop them.
What is an automatic thought (ANT)?
It is no secret that the majority of us with anxiety have "thinking" problems that sometimes tear us down and make us feel miserable and depressed.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a psychiatrist, physician and author, calls this type of thinking ANT’s(Automatic Negative Thoughts). He says that ANTs are "cynical, gloomy, and complaining thoughts that just seem to keep coming all by themselves". ANTs are thoughts like this:
- "My presentation is going to go horribly."
- "I'm not going to close this sale."
- "They always ignore my ideas during meetings. Why do I even bother?"
- "Something bad is going to happen. It always does."
One of the biggest problems is that these thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you are convinced that your presentation in front of the board is going to go horribly, you won't really prepare for it. You'll sit in fear and procrastinate rather than taking action. And then guess what happens? The presentation will indeed go horribly, and you will say to yourself, "See? I told you it would be a nightmare!"
This type of thinking can severely limit your ability to enjoy your life. How you think on a moment-to-moment basis plays a huge role in how you feel and thus how you act.
The Most Common ANTs
There are different ways that your thoughts lie to you to make situations worse than they really are. Dr. Amen says to think of these nine ways as "different species" of ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts).
In the upcoming articles we are going to explore the different “species” of cognitive distortions.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy.This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.