Part 4: Catastropizing, ANTS Are Not What You Think! Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
ANTS Are Not What You Think!, Part 4
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
We are continuing our series on Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS). When an event happens, we have a thought (internal dialog) about it, which results in a feeling. Sometimes we have automatic negative thoughts for no logical reason which can lead to fear, sadness or anxiety. If you can change the thought, then you can manage the feelings to being appropriate to the actual situation.
This month we will devote the column to the ANT called catastrophizing. Catastropizing is the road to worry and anxiety’it’s the “What if xyz happens?” A tiny problem can become a disaster in one’s mind. A headache can become brain cancer’ a layoff becomes never working again, etc. For a child, it could be her best friend moving away and she thinks she’ll never have a good friend again. Or a teen breaking up with his girlfriend and thinking he will never have a date again. Just telling someone not to worry about it rarely works.
According to Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods & Your Life
by McKay, Davis and Fanning, catastropizing can be balanced in the mind by thinking “What are the odds?” Learn to make an honest assessment of how likely the worried thought is to happen one in a thousand (.1%), one in twenty (5%) etc. Looking at the realistic odds helps to evaluate whatever is frightening you.
Recently a dramatic storm came though while I was counseling a 10 year old girl. The sirens went off and she became tearful and said, “I don’t want to die.” Her mother began to hold and pat her which made the little girl cry even more. I began talking about how storms happen all over the world every day and rarely do people die. We looked at the odds and she quit crying and we were able to continue the session.
This can be a good technique for ourselves and to teach our children so that we don’t make mountains out of molehills!
More in the ANTS series:
Copyright 2018, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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