Emotional Intelligence in Henderson & Surrounding Areas AUTOMATIC NEGATIVE THOUGHTS -- BREAKING FREE 


by:  Mary Christian

You’ve heard the phrase “limiting beliefs,” and you may or may not have heard of Automatic Negative Thoughts (“ANTs”).  ANTs and limiting beliefs are formidable barriers to personal growth, self-awareness, emotional intelligence (“EQ”), and fulfillment. ANTs can sabotage our confidence, hinder our potential, and limit our ability to live life to the fullest. To break free from their grip and unlock our true potential, we must understand the nature of these insidious patterns of thinking.

ANTs are intrusive. These often-irrational thoughts pop into our minds spontaneously and are our “automatic responses” which color our perceptions and influence our emotions. These deeply ingrained thought patterns stem from past experiences, upbringing, or societal influences. They can spiral out of control, and feed into a cycle of self-doubt and negativity if left unchecked. Whispering messages of doubt, fear, and self-criticism, they are like unwelcome guests who refuse to leave. A few examples of ANTs include:
Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible outcome in a situation.
Over generalization: Drawing sweeping conclusions based on isolated incidents.
Personalization: Blaming oneself for external events beyond one’s control.
Filtering: Focusing exclusively on the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive.


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Limiting beliefs are deeply held convictions about ourselves, others, or the world around us which constrain our potential and often originate from past experiences, criticism from others, or societal norms.  Limiting beliefs often dictate what we can and cannot achieve and exert a powerful influence on our behavior and decision-making even on a subconscious level. Examples of limiting beliefs include:

“I’m not good enough.”

“I don’t deserve success.”

“I’ll never be able to change.”

“I’m destined to fail.”

Overcoming ANTs and Limiting Beliefs

Adopt strategies for change and cultivate a more positive and empowering mindset to overcome ANTs and limiting beliefs.  Be proactive in the following:

Awareness: Be aware of your automatic and/or racing thoughts contemplating the underlying patterns which contribute to negativity and self-doubt.

Challenge: Once you identify your automatic negative thought, challenge its validity. “Is this thought based on facts? What evidence do I have to support or refute it?”

Reframe: Shift your thinking from “I’ll never succeed.”  Reframe your thought as “I have the ability to learn and grow from challenges.”

Practice Self-Compassion:  Self-care is a must.  What you do for your friends, do for yourself.  Contemplate the kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend with similar challenges and treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding. 

Seek Support:  Friends, family, and/or mental health professionals are irreplaceable during your journey. The positive influences and individuals with whom you surround yourself will help to uplift and encourage you. 

[Next Topic:  Ruminating]


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