Eliminate Automatic Negative Thoughts – Killing the Ants

By Sherry Myers

We’ve been looking at Steps 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))*.  This month we will finish identifying the 9 specific species of ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts) in order to take their power away over our lives. We will look at the ANTS 7, 8 and 9.

ANT #7: "Labeling"

Whenever you attach a negative label to yourself or to someone else, you stop your ability to take a clear look at the situation. Some examples of negative labels that people use are "jerk, frigid, arrogant and irresponsible." When someone seems rude on the road, we often call them a jerk, when that is actually not a fair assumption. We really don’t know the person and they may be rushing to get to a hospital or have an emergency or just having an off day. We shouldn’t be quick to judge a person without really knowing them.

ANT #8: "Personalization"

Personalization occurs when innocuous events are taken to have personal meaning. "My boss didn't talk to me this morning. She must be mad at me." Or, one feels he or she is the cause of all the bad things that happen, "My son got into an accident with the car. I should have spent more time teaching him to drive. It must be my fault." The fact is your people get busy and we can’t take everything personally. Remember a time when something was on your mind that consumed your thoughts and you may have not taken as much time with others as you usually do. 

ANT #9 (the most poisonous red ANT): "Blame"

Blame is very harmful. When you blame something or someone else for the problems in your life, you become a victim of circumstances and you cannot do anything to change your situation. Many relationships are ruined by people who blame their partners when things go wrong. They take little responsibility for their problems. When something goes wrong at home or at work, they try to find someone to blame. They rarely admit their own problems. Typically, you'll hear statements from them like:

"It wasn't my fault that...." 

"That wouldn't have happened if you had...." 

"How was I supposed to know...." 

"It's your fault that...." 

Whenever you blame someone else for the problems in your life, you become powerless to change anything. The "Blame Game" hurts your personal sense of power. Stay away from blaming thoughts and take personal responsibility to change the problems you have. 

Ant 7 – Labeling

Thought – That person is a jerk

To kill the ant –That person may just be preoccupied with something today

Ant 8– Personalization

Thought – My son had an accident. I should have spent more time teaching him.

To kill the ant – Accidents happen. He will learn from this.

Ant 9 – Blame

Thought – That wouldn’t have happened if he would have said something,

To kill the ant – We could have communicated better.

If you want your life to be as beautiful and peaceful as a picnic, you must take the necessary steps to eradicate unwelcome and unwanted ants that will ruin your day if you let them!