How to Eliminate Automatic Negative Thoughts

Try talking back!

By Sherry Myers

This month we are looking at Step #7 in the series on step-by-step thinking principles used by Daniel G. Amen, MD in his article on ANT THERAPY (eradicating Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS))*.

Step# 7:  You can train your thoughts to be positive or you can just allow them to be negative, which will ultimately upset you. It's up to you! Take the time to learn about your thoughts and choose to think about good positive things.
One way to learn how to change the way you think is to notice the thoughts coursing through your brain and talk back to them. If you can correct the negative thoughts, you take away their power over you. Did you know when you think a negative thought without challenging it, your mind believes it and your body reacts to it?
You have more power than you may realize in shaping and controlling your thoughts.  The key is to take the time and evaluate them.  When a thought comes to you and you feel low, take a moment and think about that thought. Does it have the potential to be destructive to yourself or others? Is that thought one that promotes and uplifts or does it create a stressful feeling in your body?
The mind can tend to wander off on bunny trails. You can start with one thought leading to another and another until you are far off from the original thought. This often pays a destructive dividend. If your thoughts start taking you down fallacious paths, it is important to realize this and use a new tool to take control. One way to retrain the mind to operate differently is to turn the thoughts into pleasant ones. The trick is to have a happy default thought. Remember a time of great joy, a joke or any other memory that always makes you smile. Keep that thought in your pocket and pull it out every time you get a negative thought. That way you can override the old negative thought with the new one. Mediate on that thought until the negative feelings depart and you can come back to the problem with a new perspective.
It may take a programming of the mind and effort to begin to change your thought processes but remember that you are in control and not your mind. You are worth the time you devote to making this change. Remember the old song sung by Bing Crosby: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative, but don’t mess with Mister in-between.” Strive to be positive in all you do; your mind is reacting!