Dwellling and overthinking ANTS


Hi everyone,

I am on session 4 now. I think that the ANTs handout has been very helpful so far. For me, I feel that most of my ANTs are not so much as “thoughts” but more of a visual component. I sometimes find my mind dwelling on a bad social experience that already happened in the past and I picture the experience re-happening in my mind. It’s almost like as if a movie is happening in my brain! Lol I can actually feel what I felt at that time and I dwell on everything I said or did. And I also dwell in anticipation of the future. If I know that I have to attend a social setting that causes me high amounts of anxiety, I will dwell for days before the event in fear of being anxious. I don’t like feeling anxious. I hate the way it makes me look or act. My muscles get very tense, I blush a lot, and I find it hard to focus and make eye contact. I hate feeling like that because it prevents me from acting like my true self. I dwell on this ALL the time. I worry that I will feel this way in the future and that scares me. My anxiety is usually triggered by certain people. I don’t feel anxiety around everyone. There are certain social settings and environments in which I feel high levels of anxiety. Overthinking is a big issue for me. I always try to think about what caused my SA to begin with. (This is probably an ANT) and then I dwell and overthink that. My mind runs around in circles.

I have been listening to positive affirmations and calming music every morning to help me feel relaxed to start the day. I talk to myself and tell myself that I want to be happy and relaxed. I sometimes find it hard to stop the ANTS. What does it mean to “catch” the ANT? Does that mean I have to re-say the ANT in my head before using a stopping statement, so that my brain knows what statement I am trying to block off? Also, is it better to use the same stopping statement every time?

I am going to keep on with the therapy every day. I need to keep practicing and applying the strategies as much as I can. I find that I try to use slow talk with people I feel comfortable with. I know that if I keep at it, I can overcome SA for good! I sometimes am impatient and want immediate results, but I am telling myself that it takes time!!

Good luck to everyone! Please share your thoughts if you can! I would be more that happy to hear your story because we are all in the same boat and in this together! The more encouragement and motivation that we share, the stronger we can become! Thank you for your time! :blush:


Hi Soccer2000, I’ve just started the therapy and I’m on week three. I have however done other studies on anxiety and have been to counseling for this issue too. I do think that when you catch your ANT, that it’s better to solidify in your mind what it is that you’re thinking about so that when you say “stop“ your brain understands what you’re saying “stop” to. Also, for me, I find that saying the same phrase or having the same imagery when I say “stop“ is helpful as it develops a clear and familiar message to the brain that these thoughts are unhealthy and not helpful. Good luck with the rest of the sessions!


Stopping statements for ANTs thoughts or feelings are discussed in the session. Follow those examples or do it how it suits you.

“Stop. This is not healthy or helpful. I do not want to dwell on this. I choose not to think about this. Etc.” At this point we are not yet going conditional. We are not Turning the Tables on the Ants yet, because for most of us, we cannot do that. We must first learn to just know that ANTs exist and have been controlling us when we didn’t know, and now we say NO. That’s first. It’s a process of building up skills.

There are many ANTs in your honest description of how you think and feel. I hope you are applying ANTs stoppage to all that rumination and dwelling and replaying of the past, because those are ANTs. It’s a process you will get stronger at with practice.

You mention that you are calming down and also listening to positive affirmations. There are many points throughout the therapy where Dr. Richards discusses that this therapy is not positive affirmations or mantras. There is a reason for that. Affirmations usually falls into a category of super positivity which people with SAD probably cannot accept at the beginning of the journey. We’re building up the foundation to believe healthy thoughts, but we’re not kidding ourselves into believing something which we completely feel is untrue. We’re not able to lie to our minds or trick ourselves into thinking something. That’s not how the brain works. It’s fine however if you decide to listen to positive stuff, and I think that’s great. It’s certainly better to focus on positive than negative. Just a note here for you to not get down or feel worse about yourself when the world of positive affirmations might not be working as you had hoped or as people imagine it to be.

Things do work themselves out with time and persistence, if you stick with it. I know you can.


Thank you for the advice!! Good luck to you as well!! Stay motivated and determined!!


Thank you for the feedback. Today I was out with my friends and on the ride there, I could feel the rush of anxiety and adrenaline rising. I was trying to stop the ANFs and ANTs. I was also telling myself that I’m an proud for starting the series and it’s just the beginning so I can’t beat myself up… it somewhat made me feel better but honestly I feel like my anxiety was worse when I was out now than before I started the therapy. Is this normal? I know I’m still at the beginning of the therapy but I wasn’t sure if this was something I should be worried about. Now I feel sad and I’m trying not to rehash in my experience but I guess I just feel upset at myself for getting myself all worked up over nothing and for not acting like myself with my friends. I don’t think they even noticed but I just feel like SA lowers my self esteem and I just feel like crying now. The ANTs are going in crazy circles in my mind right now. I’m trying to stop them but I just feel regretful. I just wanna feel happy and energetic. I worry too much about proving myself to others and I compare myself to others including my friends. I KNOW that it’s not good to feel this way but it’s jusy frustrating sometimes. This is just a setback. Tomorrow is a new day I guess


this is the exact same as my anxiety to a tea!!! wow… i know exactly how you feel with all of this i only get it around certain people and worry sooo heavily about my future…what types of people do you usually get anxiety with?? gosh i hate that we all have this is makes me so angry i hope this gets better for you i really do, and everyone :broken_heart:


it’s great how positive you are staying soccer2000, everything good takes time i think we can beat this if we put in enough effort anything is possible… also… i feel like my anxiety has gotten so much worse with the therapy as well but i think this is just a step because our brains dont want to be fixed because they are so used to the feeling of anxiety!! you get what you put in so just do everything you can and i know it will get better, it has to:)


Thank you so much hai!!! I appreciate your responses!
To answer your question - “What types of people do you usually get anxiety with?”
My answer would be people that I think are better looking than I am or that I feel inferior in some way to. This is because I used to compare myself to others and I would try to be like them. Also, sometimes I get anxiety with meeting new people for the first time because I worry about making a good impression. But I am almost done with session 8 and I do feel some minor changes but there’s still a much longer road ahead but I do see a lot of potential. I know I will get better. There are moments when I have absolutely no anxiety and then there are times when I find myself feeling tense (usually in my neck and face) but I’m trying to stay rational after and I’ve been doing my therapy session study time every day as well. Feel free to keep me posted on your progress or anything that you would like to discuss here. I’m sure we all, in some way can relate to each other. We can all get through this!! Best of luck to you and everyone !! :blush:


And just to add, I used to think (ANT) that feeling anxiety around certain people is weird. For example, sometimes I can feel anxious to talk to my aunt, a teacher, or even my best friend. I used to think that it’s crazy to have anxiety around people that I should feel the most comfortable with!! This is one of my biggest ANTS. But this series is helping me realize that there is nothing “weird” or “strange” with feeling this way. Everyone in life goes through a struggle or a problem. But it’s how we react to it that counts. We can choose to beat ourselves up and feel sorry for ourselves for the rest of our lives, or we can choose to help ourselves because we all deserve to feel and think rational and positive!!


I think you give some sage advice here, Soccer2000.

When we all first arrive here, the point of beginning therapy, or the first stages of awareness and education about our social anxiety, there is an understandable process of talking about our issues, asking, thinking that we must be crazy, questioning what we’re doing and why. And this is good - we will get feedback, hopefully, that we are not alone, that indeed you are not “crazy” with your own special brand of never-before-heard-of-social-anxiety behaviors. Truth is, for each thing we think is weird or unique, social anxiety got you there, through backwards logic or straight logic guided by anxiety - however you want to look at it. If you frame things from a perspective of a person without social anxiety, then sure, our reactions and behaviors are irrational, illogical. If you understand social anxiety, and frame our behaviors from that viewpoint, there’s really no surprise we could get to this point of behaviors or these reactions.

The longer I’ve been around this - my own experience, and talking with so many others - I come to the same feeling more often than not - the same result that you point out, Soccer2000. Yes, open up, get feedback, talk about this. Indeed. Hopefully, though, you get to a point where you realize that it doesn’t matter the “reaction”, it matters that it’s all due to social anxiety. I think this is important because if we get to that understanding, we spend less time analyzing, getting hung up, on particulars and symptoms. Instead, we clear a more direct mental path for always getting back to solutions for social anxiety. Solutions for the issue here, focusing our time on that, not on the dissection of situations. That’s where we put our efforts.

Doesn’t this forum support and confirm that for you? Each person’s story you read, don’t you think, “Yeah, I get that, me too.” Or even if their story isn’t yours particularly, can’t you at least say, “Hmm, I may not have that particular reaction, but I can totally relate how their mind is getting them there because mine does the same in other ways.” That’s how I feel, anyway.


Yes lets for sure keep each other updated!! (: