Stopping Automatic Negative Thoughts

Nov 21, 2022

Have you ever caught yourself getting stuck on a totally negative thought?  You might not even know how or why you started thinking about it, it just popped up in your mind and now you can't shake it. 


It's really annoying, right?


These thoughts can derail your whole day (or longer) if you let them.  I can think of many times that I've gotten into a total "doom and gloom" mood, where nothing anyone could say would cheer me up, all because of some negative thought that worked its way into my mind.  I know I'm not the only one!


Well, it turns out that constantly battling with negative thoughts can do a lot worse than putting us in a grumpy or sad mood.  The more we focus on these negative thoughts, the more we have them.  And when they get really out of control, they can literally change our brains!  (I'll link to resources in the comments).


I recently read a great book called, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Dr.Daniel G. Amen.  He's the founder of the world renowned Amen Clinics, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and brain-imaging expert.  Now, like every book I read, some things he wrote about resonated very deeply with me and others didn't.  One thing that did, was his therapy to deal with these negative thoughts. 


Of course I did more research, and as I continued down the rabbit hole, I knew this was something I needed to share with my fellow Kindhearted Badasses!


Dr. Amen calls them ANTs,  Automatic Negative Thoughts, because they can pop up any time and, like ants at a picnic, can cause an infestation of negativity in your mind if you don't get kill them quickly.


One of the best ways to kill the ANTs, and change your thoughts, is to recognize them and talk back to them.


I found a cheat sheet for you that outlines the different types of ANTs so you can recognize them quickly.  Take a look then leave a comment letting me know which ones you struggle with the most.


We'll be diving deeper into ANTs on this Friday's live call.  We'll go over the different types of ANTs, discuss which ones are the most dangerous and why, and explore different ways to kill those ANTs quicky!


Comment with your questions below, or DM me if you want to keep your comments/questions anonymous.




Change your Brain Change your life:

Dr Amen coined the term “ANTs,” for Automatic Negative thoughts.  He identified 9 types of ANTs as listed below.  Combine those with Byron Katie’s The Work and a reminder that this is a practice not a perfect and here’s what we get…


First, write down your ANTs.  We know how powerful brain dumps are!  This is the same idea.  Dump the ANTs out of your head and onto the paper.


Second, identify the ANT species.  There are 9 types of ANTs: 


1-All-or-Nothing ANTs: Thinking that things are either all good or all bad

2-Less-Than ANTs: Comparing and seeing yourself as less than others

3-Just-the-Bad ANTs: Seeing only the bad in a situation

4-Guilt-Beating ANTs: Thinking in words like should, must, ought, or have to

5-Labeling ANTs: Attaching a negative label to yourself or someone else

6-Fortune-Telling ANTs: Predicting the worst possible outcome for a situation with little or no evidence for it

7-Mind-Reading ANTs: Believing you know what other people are thinking even though they haven’t told you

8-If-Only and I’ll-Be-Happy-When ANTs: Arguing with the past and longing for the future

9-Blaming ANTs: Blaming someone else for your problems

Third, channel your inner Byron Katie and do the work.  Start by asking yourself our favorite questions… 

Is what the ANT is telling you true?  

Can you be absolutely sure it’s true?  

How would you feel without this thought?

Is there any reason to hold onto this thought?


Lastly, remember this is a practice, not a perfect.  Just like actual ants, your ANTs will come back again.  It’s normal.  We are made to be works in progress for our entire lives.  Every time you practice killing your ANTs, you’ll get stronger and the ANTs will get weaker.  They’ll come back less often, more quietly, and will be more easily brushed away.  And when a new, big, scary ANT comes along (because as long as you live and continue to grow, new ANTs will come), you’ll be ready.  You’ll know how to handle it.  And you’ll know you have a safe space with your KHB Crew to share your struggles and you wins!


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