Rid Your Mind of Negative Thoughts
“Your brain is seeking evidence all day for what you are telling yourself.”

Let's talk about ANTS - Automatic Negative Thoughts. In his book, Change Your Brain Change Your Life, Dr. Daniel G Amen identifies 9 types of negative thoughts which infiltrate our minds if we allow them to. They are labeled as ANTs which stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts.

“Negative thoughts invade your mind like ants at a picnic." The nine different ways your thoughts lie to you and make situations seem worse than they are, are listed below. Think of these nine ways as nine different species of ANTs. When you can identify the type of ANT, you can take away the power they have over you.

1. All or nothing – These are the ANTs that infest your brain when you make something out to be all good or all bad. It is the same as black or white thinking. For example, let’s say you want to stay consistent and work out a day for 30 days, if you do that, you think you are the most disciplined person on the planet. If you miss a day, you think you have no discipline and give up and go back to not working out at all. A better approach is to acknowledge that you didn’t do your daily workout and then get back on track the following day. One slip up doesn’t mean you should give up entirely.

2. Always thinking – This is when you think in words that overgeneralize, such as always, never, every time, or everyone. Consider some of the thoughts such as “I will never lose weight,” “I have always had a sweet tooth" – "I will never be able to stop eating chocolate,” This kind of thinking makes you feel like you are doomed to fail at eating right and staying healthy. It is as if you have no control over your actions or behaviors. A better approach is to acknowledge that you are actually capable of  learning to be better disciplined in any specific area. One step at a time is perfectly fine.

3. Focusing on the negative – This ANT makes you see only the negative aspects of situations even when there are plenty of positives. “I know I lost 10 pounds, but I wanted to lose 15, so I’m a failure” is an example of this type of thinking. Focusing on the negative makes you more inclined to give up on your efforts. Putting a positive spin on this same thought – “Wow!” I lost 10 pounds. I’m on my way to my goal of 15 pounds” – encourages you to keep up the good work and makes you feel pretty good about yourself.

4. Thinking with your feelings – “I feel like I’ll never make it to the job promotion.” Thoughts like this occur when you have a feeling about something and you assume it is correct, so you never question it. Feelings can lie too. Look for evidence. In this example, schedule a chat with a mentor to talk about simple action steps to make it happen.

5. Guilt beating – Thinking in words like “should”, “must”, “ought to”, and “have to” are typical with this type of ANT, which involves using excessive guilt to control behavior. When we feel pushed to do things, our natural tendency is to push back. That doesn’t mean that guilt is all bad. There are certain things in life that we should and shouldn’t do if we want to have the best body possible: “I want to eat the chips and guacamole at the party, but I should have the raw carrots instead” or “I feel like staying in bed, but I should do my workout.” It is better to replace guilt beatings with phrases like "I want to do this," "it fits my goals to do that," "It would be helpful to do this," etc. So in our examples above, it would be more productive to rephrase those thoughts to: "I love the taste of sweet, crunchy, raw carrots, plus I'm going to feel so good when I reach my fitness goals." "I want to do my workout, because it will give me more energy to get through the day."

6. Labeling – When you call yourself or someone else names or use negative terms to describe them, you have a labeling ANT in your brain. A lot of us do this on a regular basis. You may have said one of the following at some point in your life; “I’m a failure”; or “I’m lazy.” The problem with calling yourself names is that it takes away your actions and behaviors. If you are a failure, or lazy, then why bother trying to change your behavior? It is as if you have given up before you have even tried. This negative attitude can be terrible for your mind and body. Stay away from negative labels - for yourself and others.

These last four ANTs are the worst of the bunch. I call them the red ANTs because they can really sting.

7. Fortune-telling – Predicting the worst even though you don’t know what will happen is the hallmark of the fortune-telling ANT. Examples include: “I just know that nobody is going to show up for the dinner I'm planning." "I know that my friends and family will judge me for jumping into a healthier way of living.” Nobody is safe from fortune-telling ANTs. When you recognize one of these ANTs, talk back to them and take away their power over your feelings.

8. Mind reading – When you think that you know what somebody else is thinking even though they have not told you, and you have not asked them, it is called mind-reading. Listen carefully to the other person before trying to predict what they have to say.

9. Blame – Of all the ANTs, this one is the worst. Blaming others for your problems and taking no responsibility for your own successes and failures is toxic thinking. For example: “It is your fault I’m out of shape because you will not go with me to exercise.” Whenever you begin a sentence with “it is your fault…” it ruins your life. These ANTs make you a victim. When you are a victim, you are powerless to change your behavior. Quit blaming others and take responsibility for your actions.

Strategies to Overcoming ANTs
1. Eliminate as they attack; write them down and ask: Is this really true? (use your oils)
2. Stop the negative thoughts (like yesterday when I was complaining)! Toss those thoughts out.
3. Start every morning by saying “today is going to be a great day!”
4. End each and every evening by figuring out what went well today.
5. Create optimism with a dose of reality. What am I looking for and what am I going to do about it.

Essential Oils and Mind Function

Now that we've talked about ANTs and mindset and the profound impact a positive mindset can have on your life, let's talk about our favorite essential oil that can help your mind function!

Frankincense is one of the most popular oils to support the mind, and for a good reason! It is high in a constituent called alpha-pinene which is a sesquiterpene. So what does that even mean??

WELL.. it can do something exceptional. It does something that most molecules can't do, cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver oxygen molecules directly to cells. These sesquiterpenes stimulate the brain's limbic system and other glands within the brain, promoting memory and releasing emotions.

Isn't that cool?!

Go ahead and give the power of Frank a try! Rub a couple of drops on the back of your neck right at the base of your skull and then cup your hands together and inhale 5-6 deep breathes every day for 30 days and see how it makes you feel!