Help to stop the ANTS!

Published 08/04/2020

Now then, nobody likes an infestation. Whether that’s an infestation of cockroaches or ants or negative thoughts. It’s not really where we’d like to be, in the middle of any of that. Trouble is, our brain has other ideas. It’s not evolved quite as fast as all else around us and it likes to constantly and consistently point out things that could be negative, to keep us safe.

In some ways, it’s very kind of it to worry so. But we’re not generally still living in caves and having to deal with those prehistoric day-to-day battles for survival. It’s not got the memo that times have changed and so, those that were really flippin’ useful thoughts and analytics, don’t tend to apply too much to us now.

The trouble with these thoughts is that they’re automatic – Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). No matter who we are, no matter our circumstances, our titles, our positions, our lifestyles, we all have them.

For some of us, those ANTs are everywhere, and made worse by the current lock down situation. In the midst of such uncertainty, here are some ways we might be able to halt or simmer the invasion of these negative thoughts:

1. Our thoughts lie to us. Often

Try writing them down and ask yourself, if they’re really true. Like, honestly really, really? Chances are, they’re not – your brain is just wanting you to sit-up, take stock and evaluate. Sometimes the act of writing them down and evaluating them is enough to quieten them.

2. Disrupt them in their tracks

We can all remember a time when we were feeling awful and then something happened that was exciting and helped us to feel better. That was our thoughts being disrupted and we can actually do it for ourselves if we’re self-aware enough to realise that the ANTs are descending. When the rubbish thoughts creep in, consider repeating a nicer one (either in your head or out loud) such as ‘I am strong/kind/funny/fun etc’ every time the not-so-nice ones try to get going.

3. Collate evidence against them

A Dropbox folder, camera reel of kind messages, a cork-board full of letters, positive words and feedback.

4. Stand up for yourself and argue back

Take the thought and raise it. if the recurring thought is that you messed up sometimes and the feeling you get is that it just goes to show how useless you are. Stop, take a breath and argue back. ‘I might have messed up but I really did try my best and do my best. I know differently now so I’ll do differently if and when there’s a next time’.

5. Be careful of what’s around you

If the people you spend time with are always putting you down, if you engage in social media, if you love nothing more than to engage in gossip and judge and put others down, if what you read and watch is full of betrayal, gore and sadness, then you’re likely feeding the ANTs. Try flipping the switch and surrounding yourself with what’ll lift you up rather than bring you down.

Negative Thoughts are disempowering, they leave us feeling exhausted and at war with ourselves. If we can turn the tide of our thoughts, even just a little, we can gift ourselves a little more peace of mind. Let’s face it who doesn’t need that right now.

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