Dr Aaron Beck is the first person to coin the word automatic thoughts ,which we also know as ANT’s , a term also used by Dr Daniel Amin ,ANT’s -an acronym for “Automatic Negative thoughts” .Dr Aaron ,came up with this term after working with patients suffering from depression and the many complex state of mind they struggle with during treatment.
We all have our share of negative thoughts and what we do not often pay attention to it is that they are ‘“Automatic”,any bad experience be it big or small can easily trigger negative thoughts ,and if you closely observe ,we often think in negative terms than positive,unless we are an exceptionally optimistic soul,built by grit,determination and courage. Even though , it takes a lot of effort to be an optimistic positive person while life continue to test us in different spheres of life,but it also does not also mean ,we cannot find a way out and succumb to negativity .
A better approach recommended is to find a middle ground ,between the positive and negative frame of mind ,so that we balance both our thoughts and life.
Mona was a project manager in a mid size firm ,working on an international assignment ,managing several European territories to her credit ,her profile (resume) was one of the finest with diverse experience ,including number of certifications she held to add to her expertise. However towards the end of the year, a major shift in management brought to halt all the projects she was working on ,as a result ,she was first put on bench and then eventually asked to leave within 3 months from the successful launch of one of the major projects.
Given the situation,Mona was confident ,that it was a regular course of corporate life ,and that she will soon land herself in a job ,but as an individual ,she was equally hurt for the hard work she has given to the project and firm ,which only took few hours to hand over a pink slip to her,but moving past her troubles ,she began her job search ,and in the next few weeks, also managed to attend several interviews but could get through none ,months passed by and then even after 2 years she was still looking for a job!
By this time ,Mona was a different person ,she has lost most of her confidence, and her desperation and conflicting self, came across clearly in the interviews,along with the time gap from her previous job resulting in a web of negative world now that she resides in.
Dr Aaron has divided Negative thoughts into 3 categories:
- Negative thoughts related to “Self”
- Negative thoughts related to ‘World”
- Negative thoughts related to “Future”
In case of Mona ,
- Negative thoughts related to #self stemmed from her lack of finding a job ,despite the best of skills and expertise
- Negative thoughts related to the #world stemmed from the environment she operated in ,(job market ) economy, location, unfair opportunities beyond her scope of control
- Negative thoughts related to #future stemmed from finding one’s skills get obsolete and no longer relevant ,forcing her to look for alternatives
Dr Aaron recommends to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and re-evaluate them in a more realistic way to find a way out of the negative spiral one may get caught in.-Dr Aaron Beck
This has been recommended as one of the most effective methods to fight negative thoughts
The re-evaluation process may require to do the following:
- Thoughts to be written down in most cases
- To identify the category they fall into (career,health ,relations,self family,emotions etc)
- To explore the trigger that may have caused them
- To revisit the thought ,challenge it ,find rationale as needed and then replace it with better one’s wherever required
- To adapt a realistic approach (to see things as is) while re-evaluating it
When Mona adapted the 5 step method mentioned above, she was able to comprehend the chaos going on in her mind for years ,and when she transferred it on the paper (written form) she felt as if she had got rid of a huge baggage she was carrying all these years ,it was not very difficult to identify the category,however ,the triggers had their roots in the past ,and therefore she had to take the help of a Coach ,especially when she had to re-evaluate the negative thoughts that were now part of her personality ,and also learn coping mechanism to manage it.
Conclusion : Just as we all have our share of negative thoughts ,the coping mechanism also varies with individuals, what we need here is to learn what works best for us.
If you want to learn more ,or build effective coping mechanisms to fight your negative thoughts ,I ‘m just a click away ! at Mehnaz Amjad