How to Change Your Negative Thoughts
Thought Series Part 7
Today is the day we kick out the automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and replace them with truly valid and useful thoughts!
To start, a little background on this exercise: The more we think a thought, the easier it becomes for our brain to think it. So if you have ANTs frequently, it becomes easier and easier for your brain to have these thoughts. When you start changing your thoughts – replacing an ANT with a new, more empowering statement each time you notice yourself having an ANT – it becomes easier for your brain to think the new thoughts.
At first it takes work, feels hard, and may seem like there’s no point because you’re still having the ANTs. But the more you change your thoughts (either by thinking the new thought right after having the ANT, or by catching yourself before you have the ANT and thinking the new thought instead), the more you train your brain to have more empowering and useful thoughts.
If you are committed and consistent, before long your brain will start choosing the better feeling thoughts naturally. In this way, you are changing the neural pathways in your brain. Pretty cool stuff!
Let’s go over a quick summary of what we’ve covered so far.
The Thought Series So Far
Step 1: Identifying ANTs
Step 2: Identifying the Emotions That Arise When You Have an ANT
Step 3: Recognizing the Physiological Changes that Result From ANTs
Step 4: Becoming Aware of the Behavioural Consequences of ANTs
Step 5: Are Your ANTs Valid?
Step 6: Are Your ANTs Useful?
If you missed either of the earlier blog posts, you can go back and catch up by clicking HERE, or you can simply read this post as a standalone.
Today we are covering the seventh and final step:
Step 7: Choosing Your New Thought
Let’s begin by reviewing the information I’ve gathered about the ANT I am working with:
ANT: I am going to be alone forever.
EMOTIONS: Sad, defeated.
PHYSIOLOGICAL IMPACT: Heaviness in my chest, tightening around my mouth, twitching near my eyes and fluttering in my stomach.
BEHAVIOUR: Withdrawing, stopping efforts to meet new men, seeming uninterested and distracted when I do meet potential mates.
There is no part of me that wants to think this thought any longer. I can see how harmful it is, emotionally, physiologically, and behaviourally - and it’s not even valid! Time to choose a replacement thought. The trick to choosing a new thought is to ensure that it is reasonable and worded in a positive statement.
This is my new thought: “Meeting the right person can take time, and I am doing all the right things in the meantime.”
If you have an ANT and can’t come up with a new thought fast enough, use “That’s not true!” to start with, and then add on your new thought. In my case, it might look like this:
“I’m going to be alone forever.”
“That’s not true!”
“Meeting the right person can take time, and I am doing all the right things in the meantime.”
So there you have it. You are now equipped with a powerful tool for changing your thoughts. And it really works. It has worked very well for me, and many of my clients report real, lasting changes through using this tool.
In my next post, to wrap up, we’re going to go through the same process we did for the ANT but for the new thought to see just how different the impact of changing your thoughts can have on you emotionally, physiologically and behaviourally. You don’t want to miss that one, it’s really quite impressive. See you Wednesday!