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  • Automatic Negative Thoughts/ANTs

     

    ANTs/Automatic Negative Thoughts oh MY!

    On a super-hot Colorado mountain day, I was mountain biking.  It was one of my favorite trails with some nice climbs.  I love a good climb.  Honestly, it was just another day up the mountain.  However, something was different that day. I was trying to push as hard as I could up the hill.  Sweat pouring down the side of my face.  Quads killing me.  I pulled off the trail and sat on the side.  The first thing that rang loud through my head was, I suck. I’ve been up this hill so many times. What is wrong with me?  I don’t deserve my bike.  I should just go home and not ride this trail anymore.  As I sat there chomping on GU’s, drinking water, and eating a bar my mind started to shift.

    Those thoughts spinning in my mind are an example of my ANTs or Automatic Negative Thoughts.  So, what are ANTs? Where do they come from and how do they impact your performance?

    As humans, we have so many thoughts racing through our mind, some positive and some negative.  We are thinking feeling human beings.  Some of those negative thoughts are ok.  Those keep us out of danger.  However, some of those negative thoughts keep us from doing things that are not dangerous. Those thoughts keep us stuck, impact our self-esteem and performance as well as impact how we operate in our zone of genius.

    So if I have these ANTs how do I cope or get them out of my head?  Here are some things that I do and what I encourage my clients to do.  There are many more things, but this is a start.

    Situational Awareness…

    What’s going on outside?  What’s the environment?  Make adjustments…

    For example, it was definitely hot on the mountain that day.  Taking a break to hydrate and eating a snack was super helpful.  Pro Tip– Dehydration can amp up stress levels because your body is trying to get back to homeostasis.  Your heart is working harder, and your cortisol levels are increasing thereby creating a mental mess.  Hydrate!

    Breathe…

    When under stress or pressure those ANTs are crawling out of that ant hole at warp speed. Deep breathing brings you back to a sense of ground and calm.  From research, we know that deep breathing brings down that fight, flight, and freeze response otherwise known as your sympathetic nervous system/SNS.  When you are out of the SNS response, it makes it easier to think differently.

    Thought Change and without JUDGEMENT!

    Beating yourself up for having those ANTs is counterproductive.  Recognize the human component and readjust.  For example, after I was able to hydrate, snack and rest for a couple of minutes, the I suck and what’s wrong with me changed into I don’t suck…. I was hungry and hot and I’m good let’s finish.  I don’t deserve my bike just went away because I recognized that it’s the vehicle that gets me up the hill and I truly enjoy my bike and the climb.

    I do recognize that the thought change process can be a little more difficult, so I encourage clients to think about the polar opposite of the ANT, ask if it’s believable and then try for something in the middle that brings about a sense of calm as a first step.  Then we can go from there.

    If we can begin to tame the ANTs, we can begin to lessen those impacts on our performance.  We can decrease the internal noise that those things cause.

    Want to learn more about your ANTs?  Because we can get to the root of what’s causing them, give me a shout.  Those thoughts are one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when improving your performance and once you understand those… WOW!  Amazing things start to unfold.

    Give me a call.  I got you in this!

    I’m your Integrative Performance Coach.

     

    #integrativeperformancecoach, #mindset, #negativethoughts, #ANTs, #motivationandperformance

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