The truth about ANTs.

People with depression see the world through a dim grayness, mostly due to dispiriting mental messages and reoccurring automatic negative thoughts. Our overall state of mind is governed by the deep limbic system of our brain. When this system is over-active, it can cast a negative shadow over the entire mind. (Source: Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. For more information from this source see the link on the left-hand side of the blog page.)

Healing the deep limbic system requires healing moment-to-moment thought patterns. This means we stop to consider our thoughts, reflect on them and decide if they’re true, kind, healthy, helpful and if we ought to keep thinking them or not. One or two negative thoughts from time to time aren’t a big deal and it’s a very human and normal thing, but when the thoughts are over-whelming and the ANTs start walking in by twos and threes and fours, soon they can start streaming in producing chaotic feelings and rushing thoughts.

We have big black ants in our new apartment. I noticed one crawling out from underneath the toaster the other day in all its dark, intrusive largeness. It was zig-zagging across the counter-top scanning for leftover crumbs to snatch. Soon it was joined by another. Then another. I opened the cabinet and noticed they were traipsing down the side, over the bottom and through a tiny crack to make their way to the source that they needed – food.

(Courtesy of Google images.)

We can feed our Automatic Negative Thoughts by giving them power or we can starve them by choosing different ways of thinking.

I know I’ve blogged on ANTs before, but they are such a constant human weakness, it bears repeating.

This topic brings to mind this scripture in 2 Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 10:5

5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

When we have a thought, we can choose to believe it and receive it, or to hold it up in the light of Christ and the word of God to examine its truth. Check out this great Blog Post for spiritual insight and truth on ANTs.

Examples of ANTs:

1. Always/Never Thinking – Thinking in words like always, never, no one, everyone, every time and everything.

2. Focusing on the negative – Only seeing the bad in a situation.

3. Fortune-Telling – Predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.

4. Mind Reading – Believing that you know what others are thinking, even though they haven’t told you. (This is often a projection onto others of what you are actually thinking yourself. It’s a very infectious and dangerous ANT. You never know what someone else is thinking unless they tell you.)

5. Thinking with your feelings – Believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.

6. Guilt Beating – Thinking in words like should, must, ought or have to.

7. Labeling – Attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else.

8. Personalizing – Investing innocuous events with personal meaning. (You never fully know why people behave the way they do, so try not to take other people’s negative behavior personally.)

9. Blaming – Blaming someone else for your own problems. (Whenever you blame people for issues in your life or play the victim, you rob yourself of the ability to change your situation. This is a very disabling ANT. You have to take responsibility for your issues before you can choose to change them. Blaming others for your pain will only keep you in it and keep you a victim of life or circumstance.)

When you notice an ANT entering your mind you can train yourself to recognize them by stopping to write it down. When you stop to examine them on a conscious level, you can see for yourself how little sense it makes to think these kinds of things.

Most importantly, surround yourself with people who provide positive bonding experiences. The people you spend time with influence you and will soon rub off on you, no matter who you are.

What kind of people do you spend time with?

Do they encourage you?

Do they believe in you and make you feel good about yourself, or are they constantly putting you down and belittling your ideas, hopes and dreams?

“Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

It can be very difficult to break away from damaging relationships or relational dynamics with people if enmeshment has occurred, especially if we live with them or they are in our close circle of friends and family members.

 Examples of enmeshment include:

  • Family members feel threatened by each other’s growth and independent choices, both big and small.
  • Someone uses fear, obligation and guilt (emotional blackmail) to keep the others in line.
  • One person feels that they need “permission” from the other, while the diminished partner’s needs go unvoiced and unmet.
  • Partners are supposed to totally satisfy each other, so they spend all their time together and have few of their own friends.
  • Partners can’t make decisions for themselves about everyday issues.
  • Any type of privacy is seen to be “secretive,” so family members have access to each other’s personal papers, emails, correspondence and so on. Some demand to know the other’s personal thoughts or the content of discussions with others.
  • Being controlled, attached, and entangled in these ways is seen as “normal” — even loving.
  • Difficulty differentiating one’s emotions from those of their family member.

When we truly and healthfully begin to care for our mind and body and seek more positive behaviors, we can search for new relationships and people to help us through deep limbic healing. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about or loving the people in your life. Sometimes you will find, though, that certain people may not want you to change – even for the better. We can respectively tell these people that we still love them, but are working at positive change and healthy behaviors in our lives and that their support means a lot to us. But do be prepared for people that may try to keep you where you are because your healing and positive change may be perceived as threatening or hurtful to them. True friends and family will encourage you to be the best you can be and they may even want to take that journey of healing with you. This would be a best-case scenario.

Search for positive bonding relationships by contacting a therapist or counselor, frequenting a local faith-based Church, joining a gym, wellness group or local organizations or clubs that are of special interest to you.

Healing takes time.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,

and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,

he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

– Henry David Thoreau –


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Very nice Stephanie. Ants: “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT”

Comment by John

hahaha that’s a much briefer way to put it 😉

Comment by simplyenjoy


Comment by -*Sav(!)

great word! our household has battled those ANTs.

Comment by bryskates

Beautiful treatment of the subject! Wow – your writing is clear, easy to follow, and full of light. Lots to love about this!

Comment by Sande Rajcic

Sande, I’m so glad you’re stopping by to read. Thanks for the comments. 🙂

Comment by simplyenjoy

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