ANTS that bite

The Teenager Today|May 2020

ANTS that bite
Have you ever found yourself rolling downhill?
DR SHEFALI BATRA

Well, not really an actual mountain but down a negative spiral that does not allow you to stand up to believe that things can actually be right? And that everything will not be appalling? That it’s not really the end of the world?

  • I’m going to fail this exam.
  • My future is bleak and dark.
  • I will never make friends.
  • I’ll never be slim and fit.
  • I will always be alone.
  • Nobody cares or ever will.

What do these statements do? Are they encouraging? Do they make us feel good? Can we accomplish our goals faster when we think like this?

These are ANTs — Automatic Negative Thoughts. And they bite. They drain energy, suck out motivation, and portray a future that is already confirmed to be miserable. And if we knew that the outcome was going to be negative, why would we even bother trying? ANTs make us hopeless about our future, helpless about the present situation and hence we see ourselves as worthless and lesser human beings. It’s conjuring up a recipe for anxiety and depression.

Practice makes perfect

As much as we don’t realize it, positive thinking is essentially a habit. Many argue that this is easier said than practiced. But as simple as it may sound, even consciously changing our word lexicon and subtracting negative words from our vocabulary can bring about changes in the human brain circuitry. And drive us to be positive thinkers. For instance, if all the above statements could be substituted with the ones below respectively:

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May 2020