From Healing The Hardware
of the Soul
by Dr. Daniel Amen
"Did you know that every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals? That's the beauty of the brain. You have a thought, your brain releases chemicals, electrical transmissions go through your brain, and in a circular fashion you become aware of what you're thinking. If you can picture in your mind's eye the weight and power of thoughts, you will agree that they are real and they have a real impact on how you feel and how you behave."
"Every time you have an angry, unkind, sad or cranky thought, your brain releases negative chemicals that activate your deep limbic system and makes yours body feel bad. Think about the last time you were mad. How did you feel? When most people are angry their muscles become tense, their hearts beat faster, their hands start to sweat, and they may even begin to feel a little dizzy. Your body reacts to every negative thought you have."
"Every time you have a good thought, a happy thought, a hopeful thought, or a kind thought, your brain releases chemicals that calm your deep limbic system and help your body feel good."
"Thoughts are powerful. They can make your mind and body feel good or they can make you feel bad. That is why emotional upset can manifest itself in physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches. Thoughts are automatic. They just happen Since they just happen, they are not necessarily correct, nor do your thoughts always tell the truth. They often lie to you. Most of us believe our thoughts and do not know how to challenge them or direct them in a helpful direction."
"You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can allow them to be negative and upset you. Once you learn about your thoughts, you can choose to think good thoughts and feel good or you can choose to think bad thoughts and feel terrible. Through cognitive or thought therapy you can learn how to change your thoughts and the way you feel. One way to learn how to change your thoughts is to notice them when they are negative and talk back to them. When you just think a negative thought without challenging it, your mind believes it and your body reacts to it.
Dr. Amen developed a way to look at negative thoughts by referring to them as ANTS—automatic negative thoughts. He recommends that you write them down and talk back to them. "You do not haves to accept every thought that goes through your mind" Dr. Amen identified nine different ANT ways that your thoughts can lie to you to make situations out to be worse than they really are. When you identify the ANT, you begin to take away its power over you.
"ANT #1: Always thinking....these ANTS occur when you overgeneralize and think that something that happened once will "always" repeat itself. Whenever you think in words like always, never, no one, everyone, every time, everything, those are examples of "always" thinking ANTS and they are almost always wrong."
"ANT #2: Focusing on the Negative...these ANTS occur when you focus only on what's going wrong in a situation and ignore everything that could be construed as positive."
"ANT #3: Fortune telling...these ANTS occur when you predict that bad or negative things will happen in the future. Fortune telling ANTS underlie most anxiety disorders, especially people who have panic attacks. Predicting the worst in a situation causes an immediate rise in heart and breathing rate. Just having the thoughts make you feel tense."
"ANTS #4: Mind reading...this ANT happens when you think that you know what others think even when they haven't told you"
"ANT #5: Thinking with your feelings...this ANT occurs when you believe your negative feelings without questioning them. Feelings are very complex and are often based on powerful memories from the past. Feelings sometimes lie to you. Feelings are not about the truth—they are about feelings."
"ANT #6: Guilt Beatings...guilt is generally not a helpful emotion, especially for your deep limbic system. Guilt beatings happen when you think with words like "should," "must," "ought," or "have to."
"ANT #7: Labeling....whenever you attach a negative label to yourself or to someone else, you bring your ability to take a clear and fresh look at the situation to a screeching halt."
"ANT #8: Blame...blame is very harmful. When you blame something or someone else for the problems in your life, you become a victim of circumstances and you cannot do anything to change your situation.
"ANTS have an illogical logic. By bringing them into the open and examining them on a conscious level, you can see for yourself how little sense it really makes to think these kinds of things to yourself. You take back control over your own life instead of leaving your fate to hyperactive limbic-conditioned negative thought patterns."