Squashing Ants-Automatic Negative Thoughts
Must We Live With ANTS?
Negative thoughts are toxic to the body, mind and spirit. They build up and become the birthplace of poor health, fear, depression, loneliness, despair and many other illnesses. They zap energy and focus, drawing one into an anxious environment of instability and chaos. Automatic negative thoughts cause the mind to create a reality before it actually exists.
A person with a strong negative thought pattern might walk into a room and automatically think, “Oh there is Sharon. She does not like me. She never talks to me.” In reality Sharon may be shy, introvert or perhaps just is waiting for an opportunity to meet Miss Negative Thoughts. ANTS cause a person to always think the worst; I am not good enough, I can never do anything right, my work performance is inferior or any number of self deprecating statements.
Negative thoughts processes are habitual and can be changed, broken and retrained just like any other habit. Some people promote the “flee” or “ignore” mode. These do not work because to flee means one of afraid and trying to escape a powerful foe. Ignoring negative thoughts are impossible. Remember that old exercise where one is told not to think of a pink elephant? Of course it is impossible to think of anything else!
How do we squash ANTS and form a positive thought process? This can be accomplished through mental discipline and constant self encouragement. This is not to promote the idea that people should escape from all unpleasant thoughts and mental pictures. Indeed we must accept responsibility for our actions and the resulting consequences. These exercises restructure the automatic negative thought and replace it with a realistic picture of what is happening to us.
Do Not Allow or Accept Negative Thoughts
Remember the old adage to treat other people the way we want to be treated. Apply the same philosophy to yourself. Do not talk to yourself in a manner you would not allow anyone else to speak to you. Emotional abuse is not okay, even when you do it to yourself.
When negative words appear in your mind, escort them to the door and slam it behind them. Pretend it is an awful person being told to leave your home. “Goodbye Negative Nelly. You are not welcome here due to your bad behavior!”
Negative thought suddenly pop up front and center, ones such as “I cannot do this. I am an idiot compared to the others working on this project.”
Visualize yourself walking up to the person saying these things and putting up your hand, palm out. Say “Stop! That is not true. I have experience in this matter and can contribute a lot to this project.”
Let the negative thoughts come and write them down. Do not accept them; just allow them space on the paper and not in your mind. When they stop coming, crumple up the paper and throw it away, shred it or even burn it. The act of discarding them physically removes them mentally as well.
Replace ANTS With Positive Affirmations
Write a list of affirmations and plaster copies throughout your environment. Tape them to the mirror, beside the computer, on your desk at work, in the break room and any place you spend a lot of time. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
I am a strong and capable person who has a lot to offer.
My mistakes are not world changing and can be rectified.
Millions of other people achieve their goals and I can too.
I have come so far and achieved many successes.
When repeating affirmations it is important to believe what you are saying. The brain and heart gets used to hearing meaningless talk so why should they believe you now? For that moment in time, trust in those positive words and phrases.
Why does a person even become a negative thinker in the first place? Usually it is a lack of self confidence or even self loathing that goes back to childhood. If a child is told he or she will never do anything right, he/she eventually begins to believe it. These are groundless lies that disguise themselves as truths in one’s mind. The darkness of lies can always be overturned by the light of truth once they are recognized as imposters.
When a negative thought enter and tries to plant a seed, ask questions to ascertain the real facts about the issue. Some retraining questions might be:
Is that really the truth? Do I have any evidence of this fact or is this negative idea just an old habit?
How does this make me feel? Are the resulting emotions pleasant? Write down every sensation, physical or emotional. Divide the positive and negative feelings like a Pro and Con list. The results will be clearly defined.
Now reverse those thoughts to be positive. Make a list of these also. Read them aloud and believe every word of it. You will find that every time the ANT was just a habitual way of thinking and contained no grounding facts.
Every negative thought is focused on the failures or insecurities in the past or fear of repeating the same in the future. The future will be consequences of today’s choices so there is no fear of it when decisions are intentional and made to form a future of our own choosing.
The past is over and done, can never be changed. Do not allow it to be a ball and chain that is dragged along every step of the way. If the ANTS try to pull the past into the present, refuse to allow them manifestation.
A simple but effective exercise is to imagine yourself on a boat, let’s say a Lake Tahoe cruise. Once in the middle of that cold, deep lake lift the past up and over the railing and toss it overboard. Then anytime it tries to return, simple say aloud, “The burden of my past was cast overboard and is buried under tons of water. Therefore it cannot come back. I am not that man/woman anymore.”
My own personal way to bury my past is to leave it at the foot of the Cross. I am a Christian and know how my faith changed everything. So if ANTS try to make me pick up the mistakes in my past, I simply say, “My past is the burden I left at the cross.” Each person is different and will need to devise an individual way to leave the past behind. That baggage called “My Past” is toxic so this is a crucial step in the recovery process.
Moods play a big part in how thoughts are processed. When a person spends too much time indoors, alone, watching depressing movies or television shows, he or she has fewer automatic positive thoughts. Get outside, take a walk, spend time with other people and refuse to talk about anything but good things. It all makes a difference in retraining the mind to see the bright, positive light.
Go squash some ants!