ANTS! Automatic Negative Thoughts

3 Sep

Are ANTS infesting your day and ruining your joy?   (More about ANTS by Dr. Amen  http://ahha.org/articles.asp?Id=100)

Whoa, I just returned home from a business trip.  Not surprisingly there was airline craziness; misinformation, cancelled flight, oops, not cancelled, etc.  There were ANTS everywhere!!

One red-faced, pacing, fuming man announced to me that he “yelled at that idiot behind the counter…”

“Did that help?” I asked curiously

“No, he’s an idiot!”

“I kind of feel sorry for him” I said, “I’m sure he’s not too excited about this situation either.  I’ll bet he wishes he would have called in sick today.”

“True, but I still need to get home today and he’s not helping me,” said the red-faced man, now a bit calmer.

The older executive-type gentleman on my right piped in, “I paid a lot of money for this ticket so I bought the right to yell at that man if I want.”  (Seriously, he said that!)  “This whole problem is the airlines screw-up and he’s the only person I have access to, so I’ll give him a piece of my mind – maybe that way it’ll get back to the company.”

I tried again, “well, I still feel badly for him.  I’m sure he can’t produce a plane or explain why the airline sent us all the same erroneous message on our email.  All he can do is try to fix the companies mistake.”

“Why are you so empathetic?” asked the executive type.

“I used to train people like him.  It’s a pretty helpless feeling when you have no answers for the situation you’re in” I said.

“Well maybe you can be empathetic because you worked with them, but I don’t have to!”

CONTRAST:  Sitting next to me on the same flight was a delightful woman from Scotland.  She was telling me of her journey that day which included the subway breaking down while she was on it, having to find a cab, her fear of flying, getting the inaccurate message on her cell phone and basically an ANT infestation starting while in the cab.  She looked at me “then I said to myself, today a thousand people will be told that someone they love is sick or dying – get over yourself!!  Then I calmed down and decided to roll with the punches.”

I Love it!

Your Choice!  First, check for ANTS.  Note every time you start to laps into Automatic Negative Thoughts.  Write them down, you might notice a pattern!

Second, decide on one ANT killer that you will use.  An ANT killer is typically an Automatic Positive Thought.  Something in your life that inspires a sense of gratitude or appreciation.  The Scottish woman was happy to deal with a delayed flight versus a sick loved-one.  This is a move away strategy (March 25 post  ) but it worked for her.  Find yours!

FYI the red faced man apologized to the gate agent, TWICE!  And, I would guess had a much better day when he got home.  The executive guy is probably still angry.   For more on ANTS, http://ahha.org/articles.asp?Id=100

One Response to “ANTS! Automatic Negative Thoughts”

  1. Bill Benjamin September 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Hey Sue – love the ANT metaphor. Sounds a lot like awfulizing – both of which we all have to work hard not to do! …

    P.S. love the guy who said “I bought the right to yell at the agent”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.