Ants are the dark black insects that infest your backyard and can easily ruin your picnic plans. But far worse are the ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) that can infest one’s mind and wreak havoc to one’s mental equilibrium. The mind is a powerful place with its capacity to learn and imagine. As humans we were not born with wings and yet we fly (in planes), we were not born with gills and yet we can stay underwater (in submarines), we were not meant to scale heights yet we climb them every day (in skyscrapers). We achieve the impossible daily because we have the power to imagine, and what we can imagine we can achieve.
It is this power of imagination that can be our biggest friend and foe. Sometimes the brain can go off-track and start imagining situations that are destructive and hurt our ability to keep a positive mental attitude. Over the years, we all accumulate baggage from our past experiences. These experiences were meant to teach us a lesson, but some of us find it hard to forgive ourselves and others for the pain and anguish such experiences may have caused. The more we ponder on these negative incidents the more negative experiences we attract in our lives.
The value of having a positive mental attitude is not unknown to anyone. “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrnes is full of positive advice on the law of attraction and positive thinking and has sold 19 million copies for a reason.
Why do we continue to fall into our old ways of negative thinking?
Unfortunately, Automatic Negative thoughts invade our mind and create a toxic environment for positivity and creativity to breed. Like the ants that infest the backyard, they build colonies and breeding grounds of negativity. Because these thought processes are so automatic it is hard to control them. What’s more they come in armies and work incessantly to eating the mind from the inside out. Just allowing one negative thought is enough to open the floodgates to the whole entire army.
While difficult, we can kill the ANT’s with a few simple, albeit repetitive strategies. Unfortunately, these strategies have to be repetitive until we have achieved a place in our mind where negativity completely eludes us. Until then, try these simple strategies to stop the ANT’s from taking over your mind.
Awareness: The beginning to any change in life is always at the same place: awareness. Becoming aware of one’s own thoughts is crucial. It is easy to get carried away and ruminate in negative thoughts instead check yourself the moment a negative emotion comes to mind. Try to create a mental or a physical check like pinching yourself the moment you notice you are on negative thought pattern.
Kill negative emotions with positive ones: I find that the easiest way to kill a negative emotion is to imagine a positive one. Some people even suggest thinking of seven good things the moment a negative emotion hits the mind. I don’t know the significance of the number seven here, because as far as I am concerned I can barely think of three before my negative thought pattern is already broken. Positive thoughts can include; thinking of a small achievement, or a time in your life when you were perfectly happy, or even thinking of someone you love. If that does not work, try sending your loved one positive mental vibes. Nothing is a bigger boost of positivity than knowingly doing something good for a loved one.
Stay Busy: An empty mind is often the devil’s workshop. ANT’s usually strike the empty mind. I find that keeping myself mentally challenged helps me stay positive. Hans Urs von Balthasar said, “What you are born with is God’s gift to you, what you make of yourself is your gift to God.” I interpret this saying as the ability to continually challenge one to do better, achieve more and improve one’s mental and physical prowess. Staying busy with work and hobbies are keys to improving one’s own self respect and positive mental attitude.
Having goals: Having a set of clearly defined goals is imperative to achieving success. Some people never even make goals. It is hard to get to your destination if you don’t know your destination in the first place? If you don’t have strong goals in life then it is never too late. Start now and start small. “Losing 10 pounds by summer” is as equally an acceptable goal as is, “Writing a book in two years.” Goals give us motivation to work hard towards a destination. So even if you haven’t reached your goal of losing 10 pounds by summer, you may well be headed in the right direction. So what if you have only lost five pounds and started eating healthy? You are half way to achieving your goal. High Five!
Meditating: Some people find meditation to be extremely therapeutic in order to come to terms with one’s own negative emotions of hurt and neglect. Personally, I find it hard to meditate. Yet I do achieve a meditation like state when I do yoga, write or paint. If you are like me and find it hard to meditate, then maybe there is something you enjoy doing that gives you peace of mind?
Gratitude: Being grateful for the friends and family in our life gives us an opportunity to ponder on what we have versus what we are missing. And while it is important to be grateful for the joy others bring to our lives, it is equally important to be grateful to our own self. Too often in order to achieve our dreams we play it too hard on our self. Constantly berating our self if we fail or miss even a small deadline. The body we take for granted is actually on loan to us and will eventually be taken away. Be grateful for it. Be grateful also for the mind that has given us so many astounding qualities and abilities to write, read, learn, sing, paint, dance and so forth. Remember, what we feel inside we project outside.
Constant Self improvement should be a never ending goal in life. Killing the ANT’s and creative a positive mental attitude creates an environment for peace, happiness and continuous self improvement.