As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more clearly the times that fear and anxiety are approaching in my life and mind.
In a book I just read called, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, I heard a phrase that seemed helpful. The author said we need to kill the ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts). Those are the things that will create in us fear and anxiety for no reason.
The ANTS stem from a variety of places – childhood experiences, chemical processes in our brains, and patterns and habits in our lives.
But, to the best of our ability, we need to notice when negative thoughts creep in – and we need to kill them, much like we would get rid of ants during a picnic.
Some of the Automatic Negative Thoughts include, “I’ll never be able to do that…” or “I don’t think that person liked me” or “If I had to get up in front of people like that, I’d die!”
These negative thoughts – and a thousand other ones that may be there – are not facts, they are just what they are: thoughts. They are very powerful, but they can be thwarted.
Just recognizing the tendency is the first step. As we realize how often these thoughts come to mind every hour, we realize why we are responding with or living in fear and anxiety.
The author of the book suggests writing down each negative thought and then “talking back to it.” Sounds a little strange, but basically it means to replace the thought. Replace it with a fact. You are loved. You are in this job for a reason. You can do it. Lots of people do this every day. The reasons to be worried are non-existent. You could be dealing with something really major, but you’re totally fine and healthy.
To kill the ANTS, you must recognize that they are there, then start the process of rewiring your brain to not take every thought so seriously.
Scripture teaches us to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5).
It’s part of the process.
I’m not a doctor. There are times when we need medical help and often medication for mental health. But this simple step helped me think about the big effects on my attitude from these small, yet compounding ANTS. I’m motivated to stop them.
Fear and anxiety are real. And this may help.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and don’t pretend to know the answers. I know there are some serious mental illnesses that are impossible to overcome without the aid of professional help. There’s nothing wrong with seeking counsel.