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4 Questions to Free Yourself from Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)

In past postings I talked about the power of thoughts and how convincing they can seem in times when our emotions are high. When we’re depressed, automatic negative thoughts such as “This is hopeless,” or “I’ll never get this right,” or “what’s the point” are swimming around. If we’re excited, thoughts like, “this is really going to happen,” or “everyone loves me,” or “I feel like I can do no wrong” are prevalent. Thoughts are powerful and it’s worth becoming aware of our minds, understanding that thoughts are not facts and at times, even challenging them.

I was recently reading through a friend and colleague of mine, Steve Flowers’ book The Mindful Path Through Shyness where he cites four helpful questions from Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is to challenge automatic negative thoughts (ANTS).

Here are the four questions to help challenge compelling thoughts:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

In doing this practice, you come to understand just how many of our thoughts are simply not true. Yet, these thoughts change the way we see things and how we react in this world.

If our thoughts are going to have that much influence on us, it’s certainly worth checking them out.

However, before you can even make the decision to check them out, you need to become aware of them and step outside of them for a moment.

In other words, Stop, Take a Breath, Observe that these thoughts are going on, and Proceed with these four questions. This is using the STOP practice to get to those four questions.

Try this out today…

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

4 Questions to Free Yourself from Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.


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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2010). 4 Questions to Free Yourself from Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS). Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2010/06/4-questions-to-release-automatic-negative-thoughts-ants/

 

Last updated: 2 Jun 2010
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Jun 2010
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.