The Curious Coach Podcast

Episode 090:
Mini: ANTS

This week’s mini episode is about ANTS and no, I’m not talking about those amazing little insects but rather Automatic Negative Thoughts – something that’s completely natural and something that we all do.  

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Hi there and welcome to the latest mini episode of The Curious Coach Podcast.  In this week’s episode, my reflective challenge is about ants – and no I don’t mean those amazing little insects that can lift up to twenty times their own body weight.  However, the ANTs I’m talking about can be equally strong.  ANTs or automatic negative thoughts are something that we all do.  These are the negative thoughts that pop into our mind automatically and often without any rational foundation although they may also seem perfectly reasonable and logical at the time.  The term was first coined by psychologist Dr Aaron Becks back in the 1960’s.  For example, you might make a small mistake in something you’re doing and suddenly you have a thought that you can’t do anything right.  Or you find yourself thinking the worst when someone doesn’t reply to your email or turn up to lunch date on time, effectively becoming a fortune teller.  

ANTS are perfectly normal.  However,  sometimes, if we let them take over, we’re letting them control us and drive how we’re feeling.   Dr David Burns, Stanford professor and author of books such as feeling good and feeling great, summarises this as we feel how we think.  And if we’re not aware, or not challenging these automatic negative throughs, then we may get very real feelings  then can lead to increased stress or anxiety.

So my challenge for you this week to start to become aware of the ANTS that you come across during your typical week.  Maybe write them down as they come up and become more aware of them.  As you do, start to challenge whether they’re true or not. Maybe ask yourself – what’s the evidence for or against the thought being true, or look at what other ways can you reframe the thought?  

So that’s it for this week.  Good luck with watching out for those ANTS, and thanks for tuning in. As always I’d love to hear how you got on.  So please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment on LinkedIn or drop me an email to [email protected]   – and don’t forget, that’s Stephen with a ph!  Until next time, don’t forget – stay curious!