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Automatic Negative Thoughts

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

What are they?

Automatic negative thoughtsIt seems like a simple idea that if we are feeling particularly negative that we should fill our brains with hopeful, positive thoughts, but it's not that easy as most of us don’t have control over our thoughts. This negativity is known as automatic negative thoughts or ANTs which can overwhelming.

One or two ANTs tend to be irritating however having hundreds could definitely ruin your day. The more these negative thoughts stick around and the more bad days you have due to them cause an increase in bad decision making and depression as well as a higher chance of having troubles at work, school or in relationships.

Ru Paul once explained them as ‘being sabotaged by your inner saboteur’ as he explain the biggest problem we have is ourselves, we are often our own villain and own worst enemy. As the little voice inside tells us that we are going to fail, if we listen and let it control us the voice wins and we tend to give up!

Different types of ANTs

There seems to be lots of different types of automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) all of which tend to hide the truth. These are:

1.Some Ants tend to play the blame game and are quick to judge others for your own mistakes and would rather see yourself as the victim rather than own up.

2.Do you ever find your self assuming someone’s thoughts, these Mind reading ANTs can cause a lot of trouble in relationships when assuming how someone is feeling or acting.

3.Some ANTS can become self fulfilling prophecies if your not careful, some assume the worst that ‘your going to fail you’re a levels and never get into university’ by thinking positively it helps your brain function more optimally

4.Attaching yourself and others to negative labels like ‘fat’ or ‘nerdy’ is quite a common labelling ANT which can cause your ability to actually see people for who they are to faulter.

5.Guilt related ANTs tend to pop up the most and tend to include words like ‘should’ ‘must’ ‘supposed to’ and ‘have to’ which can be rather detrimental as a motivator!

6.Seeing the glass half empty is a prime example of negative ANTs who always tends to see the bad side of everything. Even if you’ve had an amazing holiday, the ANTs might only notice your sunburn or potential weight you’ve gained!

7.ANTs tend to have an all or nothing type of attitude and tend to include words like all, always, never, no one, nothing, none, everyone, and every time.

18 – 40 – 60 Rule

There is a rule that is well known and it explains that when you're 18; you tend to be the most worried about how others view you, when you are 40; you don’t seem to care what others think and when you're 60; you realise no ones thinking about you at all! Although a slightly sad thought, the rule goes to show that actually everyone is thinking more about themselves that anyone else so you should live your life the way you want and not be controlled by your inner saboteur.

The best way to eliminate ANTs

The best way to avoid and get rid of ANTs is to acknowledge them by taking notice of them, once you’ve identified them, talk back to them and take away its power. Just like in the 1980 movie Labyrinth; a coming of age story about personal power and self-actualisation, the main character realises that she is her own rescuer and states “for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!”. This just shows that you need to face your problems head on with a confident mind to overcome your issues.

Top tips-

Remember everyone messes up and can make mistakes. So don’t beat yourself up over them.

Nobody is perfect-Know your own values, so you can spot more easily if your thoughts are unusual - Remember the 18 –40 –60 rule, which shows that everyone is more worried about themselves than everyone else.

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