Buddha wisely said that nothing can harm us as much as our own thoughts, and, for many of us, this certainly is true.
The average human brain does a lot of thinking, up to 70,000 thoughts per day. Most of our thoughts are just reflections of our feelings, emotions that we don’t choose. It simply happens with or without our compliance. The majority of these thoughts are negative and seem to pop up out of the blue. We can refer to them as ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts).
The important question is - why do negative thoughts tend to dominate human thinking?
Because negative thinking becomes a Habitual Pattern. When we engage in something frequently, such as thinking negatively, it establishes neural pathways, strengthening the connections in our brains. Repeated engagement in negative self-talk or the rumination of problems further solidifies this pattern of negative thinking. Breaking this habit becomes challenging as it grows stronger over time.
These negative thoughts aren't just mental; they can have profound physical effects. Chronic stress, caused by the persistence of these thoughts, reshapes the brain. Each negative thought alters our brain chemistry, leading to a cascade of negative consequences, including a decrease in beneficial brain chemicals, the shrinkage of the brain, an enlargement of the amygdala (the brain's fear centre), and an acceleration of the brain's aging process, among others.
Just as ants can disrupt a picnic, these "ANTs" can disrupt our life. While a few ANTs may not cause much harm, an "ANT infestation" — when thousands of negative thoughts take over our thinking — can be highly detrimental.
Learning how to combat ANTs by developing an internal "ANT-eater" can be as effective as antidepressant medications in addressing anxiety and depression. Striving to eliminate or at least reduce the presence of ANTs 🐜, or learning how to turn these ANTs into PETs (Positive Empowering Thoughts), can truly open the door to profound and positive transformations in your life!
Since the battle between ANTs and PETs is fought in the mind, therapy can play a crucial role to rewrite the script of our mind, helping us confront and turn these ANTs into PETs, creating a masterpiece of self-awareness and empowerment.