Everything's Bouquet

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Learning to Say No to ANTS

Back to one of my favorite books, The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off by Dr. Daniel G. Amen.

Chapter 8: Kill the ANTS is possibly my favorite chapter.  ANTS stand for Automatic Negative Thoughts, and Dr. Amen says we need to "develope your internal anteater".  He also says ants "leave you feeling powerless," and he says "ants make you fat, unhappy, and stupid."    He lists ten ants, and the last two: blame and denial, he says are the most dangerous.  He encourages honest thinking to overcome our bad ant habits.  He says to write down the ANT, the type of ANT it is (from his list of 10), and how to Kill the ANT.  He also quoted four questions Byron Katie asks when confronting a thought.

Let me back up a second.  When I started reading this chapter I was supposed to be outside walking.  I just didn't feel the groove for exercising, and had decided to sit down and read instead.  As I read about killing negative thoughts I decided to apply those four questions by Byron Katie.  They were:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can I absolutely know its true?
  3. How do I react when I think that thought?
  4. How would I be without the thought?                                                                                                  
My thought I applied was: I DO NOT WANT TO EXERCISE.

  1. Is it true? No.  I actually do feel great when I exercise.
  2. No, I can't absolutely know it's true because sometimes I love exercising.
  3. I feel lazy, sad, tired, hopeless, and anxious when I think that thought.
  4. I will be more hopeful, happy, energetic, planning, and ready without that thought.
Immediately after writing down those thoughts I felt completely different about exercising.  I actually wanted to get up, strap on my polar monitor, and hit the pavement.  I was surprised about how my attitude and mind felt so much lighter and better, like a weight had been lifted.

Another example: My crew was leaving a wonderful day of Camp Outrageous last week and I heard cousin Seth ( 10 years old) saying he "hated his new school" and he "hated America because it is so big."  (He just moved here from his birthplace of South Africa six months ago.  Lots of changes for this little person.)  I asked him if Aunt Brenda could teach him something.  He said sure.  I told him about the ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts), and how we need to try to stamp them out (before they take over), but that we also need to replace them with something positive and good.  His big eyes looked like they were thinking, and I asked him if there was anything he LIKED about his new school.  What transpired was amazing.  He took a deep breath,  his shoulders straightened upward, and his voice raised a little higher as he said," Well, I do like that they do......... at my new school."  He said a few more positive things while I gave him my full attention, and his entire demeanor changed for the better by the time he finished.  His attitude changed his entire physical position...his posture and his voice.  Our brains are such powerful tools.

So I am trying to manage my ANTS better.  My children are hearing a lot about ANTS.  I've even asked my daughter the artist to make me a NO ANTS painting to put in the kitchen.  If any of you are ANT challenged like me, I highly recommend checking out his book at your local library like I did and reading this chapter.

One more thing he mentioned was the formula HALT.  Don't get too:

  1. Hungry
  2. Angry
  3. Lonely
  4. Tired
I actually just blew HALT this morning.  I ran out to the gym pool without eating breakfast, and after four hours of the heat and sunshine I got a little too hungry and tired!  Every day is a learning experience for sure. Oh, but speaking of the pool, my boys and I arrived one hour before children were allowed to swim (thanks to me not paying attention).  I knew something was up when we arrived to find  40 older women doing water aerobics and not a child in sight.  It could have been a recipe for ANT disaster, but we actually enjoyed hanging out on the lounge chairs visiting and reading out loud together. The rest of our swim time was delightful because we didn't let any negative thoughts from our long wait invade and ruin our day.

Now I need to apply the ANTS philosophy to my bad attitude about cleaning my house!  Working on killing the automatic negative house cleaning thoughts...they are pretty stubborn though.


Diane Fit to the Finish said...

I need that philosophy for cleaning out my schooling room and closet! I've never heard of that book - sounds really smart and practical.

Vickie said...

Turning our brains from the automatic negative to looking for positive is a major thing (I agree). I think especially about ourselves. Had not heard of 'ants' either. Always love to be reminded of 'halt' because it is so true. Great post.

BrendaKaye said...

I do really like his book. He has a lot of great ideas. I'd love to take my entire family to one of his brain clinics and find out what is going on inside all our brains! :)

❀❀ Dawn (Lay Down My Idols) ❀❀ said...

Great post! Thanks!