If you want different results in
your life or your work, all you have to do
is change your mind.
With this anonymous quote, Regnum Christi consecrated woman Sarah Oryschak
began her presentation to help her female listeners, mostly wives
and mothers, eliminate negative thinking in themselves and in their
families. Sarah gave her presentation during the Calgary
Women’s Convention held in October, 2012.
was careful to point out that the ideas presented are
not hers, but based on information from the book Mind Coach: How To Teach Kids And Teenagers To
Think Positive And Feel Good, by Daniel G. Amen, MD.
to Dr. Amen, Sarah said it has been scientifically proven
that our thoughts provoke emotions and cause a chemical reaction
in our bodies that affects us, positively or negatively depending
on what those thoughts are.
“Whatever thoughts we don’t challenge –
those thoughts we believe, whether they are actually true or
not, are the ones that will stay in our mind
and affect our actions,” said Sarah.
there are certain thoughts which a person should always challenge,
calling these thoughts Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs.
Using Dr. Amen’s categories, Sarah said these thoughts fall into
the following groups:
The All or
Nothing ANT – a thought that something, or someone, is
all good or all bad, with no middle ground. (Example
– “If I spend my afternoon cooking – I am
a good mom. If I order pizza, I
am a horrible mom.”) The Always
ANT - thoughts that include one or more of these
– always, never, no one, everyone, nothing, every time, ever.
(Example –“No one appreciates the fact that I cook dinner
every night.”) The Focusing on the
Negative ANT – thoughts focusing on the negative side of
a situation, even though there may be a lot of
positive aspects. (Example -“My daughter offered to cook dinner tonight,
but she never puts in enough seasoning. And
she waits until after dinner to clean up her mess.”) The Fortune Telling ANT – thoughts
that predict the worst outcome in a given situation. (Example
– “This chicken has been in the fridge for two
days. I don’t know if it is bad,
but probably if I cook it, we will all end
up with food poisoning.”) The Mind-Reading
ANT - thinking one knows what another person is thinking
even if the other person has not said what he
or she is thinking. (Example – “I made my husband’s
favorite meal and he hasn’t acknowledged it – and he
has that look on his face – he is upset
with me.”) The Think with Feelings
ANT – accepting negative thoughts based on feelings without questioning
them or calling the thoughts by their name. (Example –
“The food wasn’t ready when my husband got home. I feel like a failure.”) The Guilt Beating ANT – thoughts including words like “should,”
“must,” “ought to,” “have to,” that focus on obligations rather
than motivation. (Example –“I should have made dinner tonight. I should have left myself more time rather than
ordering pizza.”) The Labeling ANT -
attaching negative words to yourself or another person. (Example –“I
left the lasagna in the oven too long. I can’t
believe it! I am an idiot.”) The Blame ANT - blaming others when things go wrong,
and failing to take responsibility. (Example – “Look, dinner is
ruined! This would not have happened if you
had called me to pick you up earlier.”)
So what should we do with ANTS? Sarah asked. “Crush
them so they do not crush you. How? Talk back
to them. When you challenge them, you take away their
power over you.”
For example, Sarah suggested rather
than thinking, “It’s my husband’s fault that I am so
upset today,” one should challenge the thought with the following:
“Maybe something he said upset me, but that doesn’t have
to mean I stay upset the whole day.
Maybe he doesn’t even know he upset me.”
Another example of a thought to challenge: “I can’t believe
my daughter blew up at me this morning.
She is so ungrateful!” Counter the thought with:
“We all have our good and bad days.
Just because she blew up at me does not mean
she is ungrateful.”
Another example -- countering this
common thought – “My hair is a mess, my clothes
are stained. My makeup looks awful.
I feel like a total wreck,” with: “Just because I
feel like a wreck doesn’t mean I have to act
Anyone trying to “stomp out the
ANTs” in her life needs to make sure not to
“feed” those pests, Sarah stressed. She said that
“common ANT food” includes: dropping hints to get someone to
read your mind, or making decisions based on assumptions, before
knowing all the details. Sarah also suggested avoiding
thinking along the lines that one is defined by her
mistakes, and by getting upset about having negative thoughts in
the first place.
“The goal is not that
we be perfect,” she said. “We just need to learn
how to deal with ANTs when they come.”