How to Keep ANTs from Popping Up

As humans, we are all subject to negative thoughts. Often this type of thinking arises as a result of stressful situations but many of us create our OWN stress through negative thinking.

As with anything, it is a choice to experience a situation as stressful or merely a challenge. Our attitude and our thoughts play a huge part on how we approach things. If we allow them to, negative thoughts can take on a life of their own, popping up effortlessly and leading to an overall pessimistic mindset. Negativity can lead to depression, anger, and anxiety as well as manifesting itself as a variety of physical issues.

What we focus on, we empower and enlarge. Good multiplies when focused upon. Negativity multiplies when focused upon. The choice is ours: Which do we want more of? ~ Julia Cameron

Negativity can be like a swirling vortex, pulling us into it’s powerful center, and controlling us. Suddenly, the ANTs have invaded.

ANTs are Automatic Negative Thoughts. Some also refer to them as popcorn thoughts because they pop up involuntarily. An ANT here and there is to be expected but if they are continually invited to your picnic, their combined effect can be overwhelming and distressing. Soon enough, the ANTs have overrun our lives,  and we find ourselves surrounded in a fog of seemingly impenetrable pessimism.

No matter how deep you are in ‘popcorn thoughts’, there is always a way out. And that way is your attitude.

You are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life. ~ Anais Nin

Below are some tips to keeping those ANTs from popping up and swarming the picnic of your life.

  1. Become aware of when negative thoughts pop up. Acknowledge them.
  2. Realize negative thoughts are NOT reality but are simply thoughts.
  3. Make a point, no matter how difficult at the time, to focus on the positive.
  4. Don’t fall victim to the ‘tyrrany of should’ in which we tend to believe that we SHOULD be perfect in all things. We are human. Mistakes happen and from them, we grow.
  5. Make a point to surround yourself with the positive. Remove or ‘downsize’ as much negativity from your life as possible.
  6. Be gentle on yourself.
Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form … you can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.~ John O’Donohue
Choosing a positive outlook, looking for the blessings in life and the silver lining in every situation helps keep the ANTs at bay. As much as possible, don’t accept negativity, from yourself or from outside sources. Remove yourself from negative influences such as the nightly news or that friend or coworker that dwells on the down side. It takes work but as with all things, the more you practice, the easier and more natural it becomes. After all, it took practice to BE negative.

I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it. If you can overcome that, fights are easy. ~ George Foreman

When you feel the ANTs sneaking up on you, take a walk in nature and revel in it’s beauty. Watch your favorite comedy and laugh until your sides ache. Listen to a playlist of soothing music or have coffee with someone who lifts you up, makes you smile and warms your soul.

Above all, be grateful. Gratitude turns what we have into enough and more. There is so much to appreciate in life. The very fact that we have a choice is something for which to be grateful.
The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice. ~ George Eliot
Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation. ~ James Allen

We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice. ~ John C. Maxwell

Choose optimism. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance of yourself and others. Choose gratitude.
These will keep the ANTs from popping up at your picnic.