Are you caught up in an energy draining cycle of negative thinking? Are anxious, worrying, headache-inducing thoughts bounce around in your head? Replace this "automatic negative thinking" with Lisa Bobyak's 3-step process to keeping the A.N.T.s away.
There is this quote from Henry Ford that's become one of my favorites. He said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't...you're right!"
Our thoughts are powerful, and according to some studies, we have about 70,000 of them a day. Interestingly enough, there are two kinds of thoughts: Critical thinking and circular thinking. Critical thinking is helpful because it leads to a solution. Circular thinking...well, not so much.
As the name implies, circular thinking is a viscous cycle, The same thought goes around and around in your mind, with no end in sight... much like being on a hamster wheel. And it's exhausting.
All of us get caught up in that nasty, energy draining cycle of negative thinking at some point during the day. And for many of us it's automatic. Those thoughts that bounce around in our head, giving us nothing but worry, anxiety and headaches, often seem to be the loudest and most frequent thoughts we have.
Maybe you've heard them referred to as automatic negative thoughts. Let's call them A.N.T.'s, for short. Just like those pesky little insects, many times the A.N.T.'s come in quietly and undetected and appear harmless at first... until the sheer amount of them completely upends a perfectly good picnic.
Have you had days like that? At surface level, things are going just fine. Your life looks good to others. YOU even look good--on the outside--but crawling around in your head are those incessant A.N.T.'s, about to ruin your perfectly good day.
- Those negative thoughts squander our energy.
- They diminish our happiness
- And ultimately... they can erode our self-worth.
In order to protect our energy, happiness and self-worth, researchers estimate that it's necessary for the ratio of positive comments to negative comments to be at least 5 to 1. 5 positive comments to 1 negative comment. That includes both the outer AND inner dialogue we have with ourselves. When I learned that, I knew I had some work to do.
It's simple enough in theory. Yet. t's in the practice of it, on a daily basis, in the heat of the moment (when your A.N.T.'s are controlling the show), that these steps become challenging. Through practice, over time, that you will find your repellent. You can extinguish (ok... healthfully manage) your infestation of A.N.T.'s by intentionally practicing these 3 steps. You CAN do it.
Below are the steps I took, and what I now teach to the women who work with me.
Take note of how often you say negative things to yourself. I encourage my clients to recognize those unhelpful thoughts and keep track of how many come up during the day. You can do this simply by keeping tally on a Post-It note. Be diligent in your noticing for a full 24 hours.
Do your best to be neutral in your noticing. This isn't the time to berate and judge yourself. (Seriously, self-flagellation never fixed anything.) Notice when these negative thoughts come up for you. And notice what your body is feeling in that moment. For a full day, just take note of how often and when those A.N.T.'s appear.
BREAK THE CYCLE
This is when you want to do more than just notice. When we want to break circular thinking, we've got to reframe those thoughts. Notice the negative thought, and ask yourself, "Is that absolutely true?" And then ask yourself (and take the time answer) "What else could be true?" Reframing is a way of taking the same situation, and adjusting our perception of it.
It's much like reframing an old family picture by taking it out of it's tarnished, original frame, and putting the photo into a modern frame. It's the same photo, but the feel is very different, isn't it? Reframing your thoughts is being able to see other perspectives. (If you're challenged with reframing, I'd love to help you with it. Reach out to me here, and let's talk.)
When we change our place, we can change our state. Find something to do that takes your concentration, interest and focus away from your old, negative, viscous cycle of thoughts. Motion creates emotion. After you've caught the A.N.T. (step 1), and you've reframed it (step 2), you've got to DO something.
What you do doesn't matter, but you must do something different than what you were engaged in when the negative thought first appeared. Get up from your desk. Go to the bathroom, Start a new project. Call a friend. Get out of the house. Take a walk outside. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. (maybe a podcast like Living Fully Balanced with Lisa... wink wink.)
If having strategies to increase your energy and happiness and decreasing your negative self-talk is helpful to you, I'd like you to download my free eBook,7 Days to Loving Your Life Again. It's filled with tools and strategies designed to help you get off that hamster wheel. My goal is to sift through the clutter and provide you with simple, sustainable strategies that support balanced living... by YOUR definition.
Lisa Bobyak knows first hand that the right information and support can mean the difference between feeling out of control and feeling healthy, happy and whole. Do you wish you knew how to get off your self-created hamster wheel? Maybe you feel weighed down by oppressive negative self-talk? Are you ready to trade in your "stress bunny" ways for something that gives you the productivity you need AND the energy you want? Check out the people who took the first step and contacted Lisa, and now are feeling less stressed and more fulfilled. To learn more about her services or hear the latest radio episode, visit LivingFullyBalanced.com.