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Crushing ANTS
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Eliminating negative thoughts is the first step toward improving our lives


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.  

Sarah 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. 

According 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.

She stressed 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 like one.”

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.”



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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