Managing Automatic Negative Thoughts:

How positive thinking affects the body.

By Sherry Myers

Last month we began our 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 are looking at Step# 2. Every time you have an angry thought, an unkind thought, a sad thought, or a cranky thought, your brain releases negative chemicals that make your body feel unhealthy (and activate your deep limbic system).

Think back to a time when you were talking with someone, maybe a friend or family member, and you were very excited about what you were sharing. Perhaps your friend didn’t share your enthusiasm. Maybe they even degraded you or an idea that you had. How did that make you feel?

As happy as you were when you started talking, the emotions experienced because of the negative reaction actually over-rode the initial joy. That’s the powerful impact that negativity can have on us. The bad experiences we’ve had can actually affect our confidence throughout our lives.

Step# 2 states that the negative chemicals making your body feel badly actually activate your deep limbic system. Wikipedia defines the limbic system as a complex set of brain structures located on both sides of the thalamus, right under the cerebrum. The limbic system supports a variety of functions including adrenaline flow, emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction. The deep limbic system is near the center of the brain where emotions are experienced and expressed.

One Facebook source states that the brain gives more attention to negative experiences over positive ones because negative events pose a chance of danger. We become hyper-focused on the negative, so we have a hard time seeing, having, or feeling positive. (This comes from the below link that credits the online article: Humor, Neuroplasticity and the Power to Change Your Mind by Nichole Force, M.A. (quoted and rephrased)).

The best remedy to avoid agitating your deep limbic system is to eliminate the negative thinking before it takes root. Realizing the effect it can have both long-term and short-term can help us to take control of our thoughts and not feed into negativity.

Stay tuned to next month’s article about every time you have a good thought, a happy thought, a hopeful thought or a kind thought, your brain releases chemicals that make your body feel good (and cools your deep limbic system).