No one likes to admit they have a problem with ANTs, but the fact is, we do. The little critters get in where they’re not wanted and they stay there and it is really, really hard to get rid of them. You can try ignoring them, but they often get worse when that happens. You can even try getting friends to help out with the problem, but that won’t help either.
Frankly, the only thing that works is logic. That’s right, logic, and PETs.
At this point, you may think I’m nuts. In fact, thinking I’m nuts is one of my ANTs. You see, an ANT is not a six-legged insect that manages to find any crumbs your kids leave in their bedrooms despite you asking them not to have food in there. An ANT is an Automatic Negative Thought. And we are drowning in them. You see your boss’s name flashing on your phone and your first thought is ‘I’m in trouble.’ You’re about to speak at a presentation and you think ‘I am no good at this.’ You look at your maths homework and you think ‘I cannot do this, I suck at maths.’ They are ANTs. We all have them. Beating ANTs is a two-part process. The first step is to measure how bad the infestation is and figure out how many ANTs you actually have. Write them down. It may seem scary to write them down because then they are on the page, they are real, you can’t pretend they don’t exist. But when you write them down you will look at them and think ‘What a load of baloney, none of that is true.’
The next step is to write down your PETs. No, don’t list Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, I mean your Performance Enhancing Thoughts. Easy to remember – performance enhancing drugs are bad, performance enhancing thoughts are good. Thinking of your PETs takes more time because we don’t think about them as easily as we do our ANTs. We don’t notice what we are good at. But for each ANT, write down a few PETs. I reckon three PETs for every ANT is a good ratio. This is a great activity to do with a close friend or relative, as we all know we are far more critical of ourselves than we are of others. Talk to your kids about your ANTs, ask them about theirs, and come up with PETs for each other.
Now put these PETs somewhere you can see them – in your wallet at the ready for when an ANT pops up, stick them to the bathroom mirror, even on the fridge. So the next time a pesky ANT comes wandering in looking for some self-esteem to steal crumb by crumb, you can whip out your PETs and push it right back into that crack in the wall.
- Know your ANTs and write them down
- Find PETs to beat each ANT
- Keep your PETs at hand for whenever you need them
Mrs Daisy Turnbull Brown
Director of Positive Psychology
B Arts B Com Grad Dip Ed MA (Theology)
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