How many of you have had ants in your house, pantry, food, anywhere, the little pests marched in and took over your home and in return, you had to battle to remove the little pests that were invading your space. So why do you allow ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) to invade your thoughts, feelings, and your everyday life? The answer is, that most of us do not know we have these ANTs, they are automatic as the name states and come and go, most of the time without us giving them notice until we feel sad, angry, anxious, fill in the blank. The problem is that most of us tend to go with these feelings never questioning our thoughts or where these feelings come from.
So, what are ANTs? They are what we call cognitive distortions and here are some examples of a few ANTs:
• Fortune Telling – These ANTs are great at predicting the worst, even though they don’t have any evidence to back them up.
• Mind Reading –These ANTs allow you to believe that you have the ability to know what someone else is thinking, even though they didn’t tell you. Many people do this, and more often than not it leads to false beliefs and troubles, this is one of the great relationship destroyers.
• Should of, could of, would of – These ANTs get you to start thinking with words like should of, could of, would of... The words we use to talk to ourselves are very important. These ANTs guilt us and get us to feel bad about ourselves.
• Blaming – whenever you blame someone else for the problems in your life, you are making yourself the victim and you start creating a belief system that you cannot do anything to change it. Blaming gives others control and makes us feel like we lack control of the situation, ourselves our world, a leading cause of anxiety.
• Labeling – Giving yourself or someone else a label making them the issues not separating the issue. An example would be someone who is suffering from anxiety, labeling would say, “they are an anxious person, instead of saying, he is suffering from anxiety”. Labeling is another form of creating a victim mentality.
There are several other ANTs, although this shortlist will help you understand and maybe notice some of your Automatic Negative Thoughts.
How do you get rid of these ANTs? There are several books on the internet about cognitive distortions, although to truly help you with them, it is advisable to find a therapist who specializes in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). In a nutshell, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective combination of talk therapy and behavioral therapy. CBT is a type of psychotherapy in which patients start to recognize their negative thoughts and behaviors and start towards changing these negative thought patterns. The goal is to continue to have our feelings, change the way one thinks about these thoughts and feelings, and create positive thoughts and behavioral patterns by turning negative thinking patterns into positive thoughts. The goal of CBT is to change one’s thoughts and eventually have more positive actions and behaviors.
About the author,
My name is Scott Donovan, I am a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (#101211). I graduated from Brandman University with a Masters in Marriage Family Therapy. I also have a Master of Arts degree in Child Development from California State University, San Bernardino. I have been in the field for over 15 years. I have worked with children, families, couples, and individuals. I have a solid background in therapy and often use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I was trained through the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy https://beckinstitute.org/ taking their Essentials of CBT: The Beck Approach course. I specialize in anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma-based issues, family, couples, and individual therapy. I am also a Christian and if you feel that having a Christian Therapist is someone you need, I have a strong Biblical background and will infuse Biblical beliefs with therapeutic practices. If you are not a Christian, no problem, I am not here to preach to you, I am here to help you and will do so through the therapeutic process. You came to my site for a reason, so why not take the next step and contact us to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation. I wish you well and hope to hear from you soon.
Scott Donovan, LMFT