Do you ever find yourself talking about yourself negatively?
Do any of these sound familiar;
“I’m so clumsy”
“I can’t wear sleeveless dresses as my arms are too fat”
“I don’t deserve to be happy because I’m so fat”
“I’m no good at this”
“I won’t succeed, I just can’t do it!”
We all have an internal monologue or inner voice, a narrator to our lives that commentates on situations or whispers in our ear. You’ve seen the cartoons of someone with an angel and a demon sitting on their shoulder motivating or heckling them as they move through life – say hello to your inner voice.
We use our inner voice every day, working out what shopping we need, helping us decide what to do today, pushing us to finish that last slice of cake and then arguing with itself until we either eat the cake, give it another family member or throw it away!
Your inner voice is a predictor of how you view yourself, others and the world. Most of us experience it throughout our daily lives.
Some of these thoughts are positive and others are negative. The positive dialogue tends to be self-affirming and encouraging, letting us know we’re doing well. The negative thoughts may warn us of danger, second guess our past actions and help us to not make the same mistakes, they can also provide critical feedback about ourselves.
Sometimes though, the negative thoughts can start to dominate, and the less helpful inner voice starts to focus on critical or nasty talk towards yourself. For example “you’re stupid” “You’re not attractive”. The negative thoughts start to increase our feelings of self-hatred and without action can become destructive and harmful.
If we think these negative thoughts too often, they start to become habitual and move from our conscious into our subconscious thought; making them an Automatic Negative Thought or ANTs.
How do you know you’re having an Automatic Negative Thought if it’s automatic? It’s generally the first thought you have when you have a strong feeling or reaction to something and tend to be persistent.
So what should you do? We invited our friends over at the Bloom Project to explain Automatic Negative Thoughts to us and give us some tools to turn them into positive and more realistic thoughts instead.