Do you hate Monday mornings? How ANTs can make it worse…

ANTs, Automatic Negative Thoughts

Let’s face it, for most people that have to get up and go to work it’s not the best time of the week. Friday afternoon seems a distant memory –  when you set off for home from work, with a wonderful sense of hope and expectation, as the whole of the weekend stretched out in front of you. Maybe the weekend didn’t deliver the relaxation or enjoyment that you were hoping for – or maybe it did, and that just makes the thought of going back to work even worse.

Sometimes the way that we talk to ourselves can influence the way that we feel. I don’t necessarily mean talking to ourselves out loud, but rather that inner dialogue that goes on automatically inside of our heads, without us barely being aware of it. When you actually stop for a moment and really take notice of that voice, you can often realise that it is an endless stream of chatter that just keeps yacking on and on – and much of it is negative. In the field of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, these thoughts are referred to as automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs for short.

This automatic negative thinking, can also be conceptualized as negative self-hypnosis. It is as if we are in a trance, where our negative inner dialogue, and consequently the uncomfortable feelings in our body are automatically surfacing, without any apparent means of controlling it.

There are a number of approaches to combat this. In order to unlearn these unhelpful patterns, we need to use tactics that employ repetition and intensity.

One way is to systematically challenge these thoughts by writing them down. The simple process of getting them out of our heads and on paper puts distance between us and the thoughts. Once on paper, we can dispute the thought by asking logical questions such as:

Is that fact or opinion? Where’s the evidence? How is that thought working for me?

Many negative thoughts contain distortions of the truth, and it is these thinking ‘errors’ that cause much of our suffering. By systematically attacking the negative thoughts, we are able to restructure our thoughts, and reframe them in a more positive manner. This can take time and practice but with persistence we can create more positive automatic thoughts.

In addition to this systematic logical approach, we can also ‘do hypnosis’ with a much more deliberate and positive intent, and create different more helpful automatic responses to life’s challenges. Hypnosis magnifies and amplifies imaginative experience and increases receptivity to positive suggestion. This can be used to provide the ‘intensity component’ of treatment.

The aim is to create new better automatic ways of thinking, feeling and responding to life’s challenges.

If you have any questions about using hypnotherapy to enhance the quality of your life, I would love to hear from you.