You try to motivate yourself by making a mental list of the ways you fall short in your work/career, marriage, friendships, parenting, prayer life, volunteer service, or even self-care. But I’m wondering: How is that working for you?
Just this week during several calls with life coaching clients this topic popped up. Although I didn’t say so during the coaching calls (after all I’m committed to holding each coach-ee’s agenda!) I can identify. Definitely.
In his helpful book, This is Your Brain on Joy, Dr. Henslin shares how respected physician and author Dr. Amen often speaks of “automatic negative thoughts” or ANTs. These ANTs include what he calls “Guilt Beatings.”
It happens when we’re “being overrun by thoughts of ‘I should have done. . .’ ‘I’m bad because. . . ‘ ‘I mustdo better at. . .’ ‘I have to. . .’ Guilt is powerful at making us feel bad. It is a lousy motivator of behavior.”
STOMPING ON ANTS
Yet we can stomp on our shame-producing ANTs. Here’s Dr. Henslin’s suggestions:
- “Become a bystander to your thoughts–questioning their validity and asking yourself, Is there another way to think about the same situation that might be more true? More kind? More uplifting and positive?
- “Simply talk back to your mind the way a sassy teen might talk back to an adult. In this case, it is okay. Tell our ANTs to take a hike, and invite APTs (automatic positive thoughts) in, instead.”
- “Exchange [your] worries for God’s reassurances. . . The Scriptures speak of ’taking every thought captive’ (2 Cor 2:5) and ‘the renewing of our mind’ (Rom 12:2).