Monday, June 23, 2014

Killing ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts)

Everyone has some fear-based or negative thoughts from time to time. Automatic negative thoughts can increase your worry, anxiety, stress and depression. It's important that each individual develops their own tool kit for dealing with negative thoughts and not letting them hang around and ruin your day, or that of the people who are around you. Everyone who loves you is dragged down by your negative thoughts if you let them flourish.

Writer Byron Katie has a technique I was reminded of at a conference recently and it's an especially helpful one. It's involves 4 questions you can stop and ask yourself when you are struggling with a negative thought that persists.

Ask yourself:

1. Is it true?

2. Can I absolutely know that it is true?

3. How do I feel when I have this thought?

4. Who would I be without this thought?

Next, turn the thought around if you can. Is the turnaround thought true or even truer than the original thought? This process of reflection and questioning automatic negative thoughts will help you get past them. You don't want to believe every senseless thought you have. Some thoughts need to be dismissed.

There are a variety of ANTs, including black and white thinking, blaming, making catastrophes out of bumps, personalizing things that aren't personal, emotional reasoning, and going to extremes (always, never). Each individual needs their own anteater. Keep adding to your skill set of ways to work with negative automatic thoughts when they pop up. Life is too short to let the ANTs take over and run your life!

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