Today we will explore the idea ANTs which stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts (sorry to disappoint those looking for an article about fumigation or insects). The concept of ANTs will be explored looking into the definition, who is most at risk and how you can break the cycle.
Automatic Negative Thoughts are considered a symptom under the mental health umbrella. The name defines the situation – a consistent self reference to negative thoughts. This goes beyond the realm of being pessimistic and delves into the belief that all issues experienced or any set back are due to personal short comings. Thoughts akin to “I’m not good enough”, “This always happens to me because I’m useless” and “Why even bother? Everything I do fails” show varying degrees of ANTs.
Also a point of clarification before moving on, ANTs is a constant return to negative self reference as opposed to occasionally losing faith in one’s abilities.
Those most at risk of suffering from ANTs are individuals who are currently afflicted by depression and social anxiety disorder. The heavy and negative mind set experienced in depression and the fear induced by anxiety create a perfect storm for ANTs to develop. This creates a dangerous cycle as ANTs feeds into the feelings of fear, despair and hopelessness experienced by those with psychoemotional health issues and this state of mind becomes the perfect nesting ground for ANTs.
So is it possible to break the cycle of ANTs? There are management techniques with good results however it will always be a work in progress.
Mindfulness activities are considered one of the most beneficial techniques to help break the cycle of ANTS. To practice mindfulness means to be present in the moment. Do not allow negative, painful or past thoughts to enter your mind and just enjoy being in the moment. This is easier said than done of course so one technique you can try is to close your eyes and take six deep breaths concentrating fully on the breathing process and nothing else. For an example of mindfulness you can find a Buddhist story about the topic here.
As mentioned – breaking this habit can be difficult however with the use of mindfulness you may be able to get ahead of things. Should you or anyone you know need assistance in dealing with their psychoemotional health or just keeping it regulated, please contact us.