“The constant creeping of ANTs will wear away the stone.”
“Our ants? Like the marching little insects that like to plague our picnics?”
No, but you’re close – our ANTs can be quite intrusive and annoying little things.
Allow me to explain.
ANTs is an acronym that stands for automatic negative thoughts.
These are the thoughts that happen without conscious awareness or decision. They suddenly pop up and hinder any positive change or growth we’re attempting to create.
What do they sound like?
- I should…
- I can’t..
- I never..
- I always…
They may also show up in the form of:
- Fortune telling: “If I do this presentation, I will fall flat on my face and everyone will make fun of me, just like the last time.”
- Labeling: “I didn’t say hi to everyone at the party. I am such a failure.”
- Feelings as fact: “I feel uncomfortable and unattractive. Everyone must think I am awkward and ugly.”
- Focusing only on the bad: “Sure, I had a few people compliment my meal, but that one person didn’t.”
- Mind reading: “They did __ to me because _____.“
Our ANTs disempower us and over exaggerate the reality of situations. They make us small, hold us back, and sabotage any goals we want to meet. Over-identifying with – and more importantly, believing – our ANTs stresses us out, depletes our self-confidence, creates fear surrounding success, and limits our ability to grow into the full and complete human beings we are meant to be.
Because our thoughts are often automatic by nature, we hardly question the validity of them. We consistently assume that our thoughts are reflections of truth and reality, and because of this perception we don’t exactly realize they are negative in the first place – we just believe they’re true and that’s it. And, even if we’re aware of their negativity, it’s still truth to us, and so we continue holding space for them to sit in our psyche and affect all areas of our lives. We may experience low vibrational emotions, negative behavior, unpleasant experiences in our relationships, or a lack of drive or motivation in our work.
Yin and yang. Good versus evil. Positive and negative. This is the duality of nature. We welcome the positive thoughts, and embrace them fully in our experience, but what about the negative ones? As we’ve learned our thoughts are energy and create the reality we find ourselves in. Negative thoughts have power that can totally encompass our entire lives. They can cause anxiety, depression, and affect our physical body in a detrimental way, quite literally draining our life force energy when we allow them to run rampant.
“The central method for achieving a happier life is to train your mind in a daily practice that weakens negative attitudes and strengthens positive ones.”
– Dalai Lama
Our ANTs are irrational and deceptive. They tell us stories about ourselves and our experiences so that we might feel more “safe and secure,” never stepping too fully into our lives. The reality is, we grow complacent and stagnant, fearful of doing anything that may challenge our current status quo.
This is why learning how to conquer them can be so transformative and powerful. Conquering our ANTs puts us in a space of open receptivity to life and the myriad of opportunities that lie waiting for us to embrace them. We are no longer plagued by these intrusive negative insects burrowing their way into our minds and controlling our lives. We step out and into our purpose and manifest the goals and success that we so desperately wish to.
How can we learn to conquer our ANTs?
- Identify: The most important thing in conquering them is becoming more mindful of our thoughts. In other words, listen to your inner dialogue. What are you saying to yourself? Become aware and begin to identify the negative self-talk and mind chatter you notice. Make a list of all the negative and irrational thoughts you may have. It might help to journal these as you notice them creeping into your awareness.
- Challenge: Now, go through each thought. Ask yourself, “Is this really true? How can I absolutely know it’s true? Can I legitimately justify this as truth?” I bet you will find that simply asking yourself these questions will highlight the irrationality and falsity of the thought.
- Conquer: By now you’ve challenged the thoughts and found that they can’t be justified and therefore are not truth. The final step to conquering the ANTs is reframing them into a more realistic and positive thought. This can be done by creating an affirmation for each that shifts the language into one that is serving you and your highest good. “I’ll never be able to quit smoking” turns into “I have the power to release this habit for good.” “I can’t handle this change” turns into “I honor these times of transition as necessary and sacred.” “I always ruin my chances at promotion” turns into “I am powerful in my professional life.”
As always, it takes time and practice. And the truth is, we probably won’t ever completely get rid of them. This is why it’s important for us to be as mindful and self-aware as we can be because the more we practice identifying, challenging, and conquering the ANTs we currently have, we have a better ability to do so in the moment, as they pass through our conscious awareness in real time. We know our reality is created by way of our thoughts, so consciously shifting into a more self-serving and positive space in each moment will undoubtedly be reflected in our daily experience.
Here’s a question: If we wouldn’t dare say these things to people we love, why on earth should we say them to ourselves? We are number one, always. We must treat ourselves with as much love, compassion, and respect as we would anyone else. It’s imperative that we learn how to release and conquer our ANTs, support ourselves through loving self-talk, and ultimately encourage our ability to be successful, expansive, and fulfilled – because that is the real truth.
You are powerful.
You are magnificent.
You are courageous.
You are sacred.