How to deal with the negative thoughts that are holding you back.
Our brains are weird. I mean really weird. Packed with power, but largely untapped, our brains shape our reality and even when experiencing exactly the same conditions and circumstances, two people can come away with different perceptions of exactly the same, specific situation.
One common ground we all share is that we all experience what psychologists term ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’. These ‘ANTs’ are pesky little critters, invading our head and spreading self-doubt and negativity into our otherwise comfy existence.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy identifies 8 types of ANT styles
1. Generalizing. For example ‘I always lose at this’, ‘I never have any luck’,
2. Catastrophizing, which is a form of anxiety. ‘I lost my car keys. Someone will find them and steal my car. My address is programmed into the navigation system so they will know where I live. They’re bound to rob my house.’
3. Polarizing, where everything is black and white, with no shades in between. ‘You are either with me, or against me.’
4. Emotional, ‘I feel stupid’, ‘I feel guilty’, ‘I feel scared’, …
5. Thought Reading, ‘He hates me’, ‘She thinks I am stupid’,…
6. Blaming, ‘It’s all their fault’, ‘He made me do it’, ….
7. Filtering, ‘I knew that was going to happen’,
8. Magnifying, ‘It’s the worst thing that could happen’, ‘It’s a total disaster’.
We’ve all experienced at least some of these thoughts at one time or another, and they don’t help in any real-life situation, but especially not when you are trying to build an online brand. ANTs feed self-doubt and with self-doubt comes procrastination and paralysis. You worry yourself to a point where you are incapable of taking any action whatsoever.
It’s the ANTs that stop us from achieving things.
Back in the 1960’s an American psychologist, Aaron Beck studied negative thinking and came to the conclusion that by correcting erroneous beliefs, we can lower excessive reactions. Beck helped his patients question their perceptions, leading to a more positive outlook.
If you are prone to any or all of these negative thinking styles, then you need to get out of the habit, and quickly. Here’s a little trick psychologists use to help you redirect your negative thoughts to positive thoughts. It’s a real ANT killer!
On a sheet of paper take a rule and draw three columns and label them as follows:
Column 1: Context
Column 2: Negative
Column 3: Positive
When you encounter ANTs, take the paper and under Context briefly describe the situation you were in when the ANTs appeared. Under Negative, write down the ANTs you experienced, and why they seem reasonable to you. Under Positive write down the counter-argument to your Ants. Try to construct an argument as to why your ANTs are wrong.
If you do this for a few weeks, you will begin to train your brain to do it automatically. Eventually you will develop a habit so that as each ANT appears in your head, you will routinely construct a counter, more positive, argument.