ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) are the negative thoughts that enter your head throughout the day, make you feel bad, and prevent you from adopting healthy behaviors. They sabotage your healthy eating plans, diminish your desire to exercise, destroy your self-esteem, and make you feel rotten.
9 “Species of ANTs”
- All or Nothing: These are the ANTs that infest your brain when you think that everything is all good or all bad.
- Always Thinking: This is when you think in words that overgeneralize such as always, never, every time, or everyone. This kind of thinking makes you feel like you are doomed to fail at eating right and staying healthy.
- Focus on the Negative: This ANT makes you only see the negative aspects of situations even when there are plenty of positives.
- Thinking with your Feelings: Thoughts like this occurs when you have a feeling about something, and you assume it is correct, so you never question it. Feelings can lie too.
- Guilt Beating: Thinking in words like should, must, ought to, and have to are typical with this ANT, which involves using excessive guilt to control behavior.
- Labeling: When you call yourself or someone else names or use negative terms to describe them, you have a labeling ANT in your brain. For example, “I’m a loser” or “I’m Lazy.”
- Fortune-Telling: This is when you predict the worst even though you don’t know what will happen.
- Mind reading: This is when you think you know what someone else is thinking even though they have not told you, and you have not ask them.
- Blame: Of all the ANTs, This is the worse. Blaming others for your problems and taking no responsibility for your own successes and failures is toxic thinking.
To combat ANTs and transform your thoughts, arm yourself with the Truth from God’s Word:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–29).
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).