So far session 4 has been extremely helpful. I’ve used the ANTs handout in social situations with friends and it really seems to be working wonders. I tell myself they’re lies and I turn my back on them and it works! But there’s a single ANT thought (I’d rather not discuss it since it very personal) that hits my brain at full force. I know it’s irrational. I know it’s not true. I call it a liar, a bully, I tell it I’m not going to pay attention to it but it always seems to be coming back and back and back. This single ANT thought pattern has been going on for a full day now. I’m not giving up but man oh man it’s becoming quite annoying. I want to forgot it but my brain keeps telling me I need to think about this extremely negative ANT. I just to want to forget about it so I can continue on with the therapy. Any suggestions on how to stop it for good?
first of all, congratulations on your success so far despite the current problem you are having, and any further challenges along the way, it is always better to focus on the successes (and the things you are doing in your life, some of which may be new and interesting) than the problems that are still there.
there are a number of techniques that deal with ants in some way or another. i made the same experience as you have, sometimes your brain just keeps to get stuck on a thought, and it seems to be normal in the therapy. if none of your distractions work (you should try tho), try making that thought conditional or give it a “maybe, so what?”. also the “turn the tables on the ants” handouts and the attitudes handout might be helpful.
i used to get stuck on the idea that i would get a heart attack and die from thinking about that happening, and trying to make it go away didnt really work. so eventually i just said something along the lines of “well then im just gonna die now”. which didnt happen of course, but it made the thought a lot less impressive.
not sure if its applicable to your situation, but if you already know and keep in mind that the thought is basically not true you might as well just accept it being there for now. possibly even exaggerate it a little, if you feel like thats not too much. you want to demonstrate to your brain that the thought is essentially without meaning - currently of course it has an emotional content which makes it so persistent. the idea is that you dont get into fighting mode but instead just let the thought be there, and move on anyways.
the additional material on the affiliated anxiety network site talks about this (and makes a good supplement to the ants handout i think)
@SillyAnts thank you! That seemed to be the problem. I just wanted the ANT to leave my brain forever but it can’t just leave considering it’s been there for years and years.
I’m learning not to fight with it but accept that it will come back and practice and persistence will get rid of it for good. In the meantime, I don’t fight with it. I now say “try all you want, come back as many times as you’d like to but I’m just gonna call you a liar. And you are a bullying liar. I’m not gonna listen to your lies so what’s the point of you coming?” The ANT still comes but I don’t let it freak me out. I’m more assertive with it. Kinda like “big deal? I’m gonna call you a liar and YOU ARE a liar”
Of course I want to these thoughts to be gone like RIGHT NOW and forever but I’m realizing (like Dr Richards has said) changing the brain takes time. Six years of negative, self destructive thinking cannot change in 3 weeks. It’s going to take step after step after step.
I feel a lot better now even though I know this ANT will come back. But with time and practice and persistence this ANT will be gone forever.
P.S. To add some context the ANT is a belief that I’ve done something horribly humiliating related to a traumatic event in the past and now everyone in my life knows about it. This of course is a belief, I know I didn’t do anything humiliating at all but the ANT has twisted my reality so severely that my brain is convinced I did something I DID NOT DO!!
But I’ll continue on and call this ANT out for what it is, A BULLYING LIAR, then get active and find a distraction.
I’m looking forward to finishing the therapy and looking back at SAD with a chuckle