The ANTs

My stress management teacher gave us a cool little handout. I thought I’d share it with you guys.  

Automatic Negative Thoughts. ANTs are cynical, gloomy, and complaining thoughts that just seem to keep marching in all by themselves. When the deep limbic system is overactive, it sets the mind filter on ‘negative’. When your mind is burdened with may negative thoughts, it affects your deep limbic system and causes deep limbic system problems. (Irritability, moodiness, depression.) Here is how we can stop that process.

Step 1: Realize that your thoughts are real.

Step 2: Notice how negative thoughts affect your body.

Step 3: Notice how positive thoughts affect your body.

Step 4: Notice how your body reacts to every thought you have.

Step 5: Think of bad thoughts as pollution.

Step 6: Understand that your automatic thoughts don’t always tell the truth.

Step 7: Talk back to ANTs.

Now, in order for us to exterminate the ANTs we need to identify what ‘species’ it is. Once we can identify it, we essentially take away the power it has over us. There are nine ‘species’ of ANTs.

  • Always/Never Thinking: Thinking in words like always, never, no one, everyone, every time, everything
  • Focusing on the Negative: Seeing only the bad in a situation
  • Fortune Telling: Predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.

  • Mind Reading: Believing that you know what other people are thinking, even though they haven’t told you
  • Thinking with your Feelings: Believing negative feelings without ever questioning them
  • Guilt Beating: Thinking it words like should, must, ought to or have to. (My teacher says to not ‘should’ all over yourself.)
  • Labeling: Attaching a negative label to yourself or someone else
  • Personalizing: Investing innocuous events with personal meaning
  • Blaming: Blaming someone else for your own problems

Kill the Ants/Feed your Anteater

Notice the ANTs. “If you can catch them at the moment they occur and correct them, you take away the power they have over you. When a negative thought goes unchallenged, your mind believe it and your body reacts to it.”

Information taken from

Change your Brain, Change your Life

Negative Body Image related to Depression, Anxiety, and Sucidality

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