Image credit: Patryk Sobczak
Over at Geek & Sundry, our very own Dr. B breaks down the concept of ANTs: automatic negative thoughts. ANTs can hold you back, keeping you from doing the things that might make you happy.
As an example, imagine two people enter a party at the same time. Hypothetical Person A – who is definitely not an extremely fun, lumberjack-looking, college roommate of mine – enters the party, he thinks, “It’s go time!” and remembers all the social successes he’s had. He proceeds to enthusiastically behave in a way that displays confidence and joviality. Hypothetical Person B – who is even more definitely not a certain mental health professional with the same last initial who writes brilliant web articles – enters that crowded party and thinks, “Oh, God… I hope I don’t screw up!” when he remembers all the times he got bullied as a kid for acting “weird”, especially around groups of new people. Person B predicts a lot of social mistakes on his part, and he gets really anxious. In both of these cases, it’s not the party that caused both their reactions. It was how each of them thought about the party.
This is where ANTs fit in. Over enough time, our thoughts can become habitual. We get so used to thinking certain ways about certain things that our thoughts become more automatic, and when our automatic thoughts don’t match the reality of the situation it creates problems. It’s one thing to feel fear if there is a legitimate threat, but it’s another thing to have a false alarm and feel anxiety when there is no threat.
We’ve probably all been there at one time or another, dreading something that we shouldn’t have had to dread.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Dr. B shares some of his strategies for banishing the thoughts that keep us from living life to the fullest. Check out the full article to see how he handles those situations. As always, he has extremely useful thoughts to share.