Part 8: Shoulds, ANTS Are Not What You Think! Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
ANTS Are Not What You Think!, Part 1
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
There are eight common ANTS. We will discuss the last one, the ‘shoulds’ this month. According to McKay, Davis and Fanning in Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods & Your Life
The shoulds are when a person operates from a list of inflexible rules about how he and others should act. The rules are not open for discussion and any deviation from his particular set of values or standards is bad. People who think in this pattern are often judging other and finding fault.
The shoulds are just as hard on that person who has them as they are on others as she feels compelled to be or act a particular way without any thought as to whether it makes sense or not. Some people with this pattern may think some of these common shoulds:
- I should be the perfect spouse, parent, friend and child.
- I should always be happy and never feel hurt.
- I should never feel certain emotions such as anger or jealousy.
- I should never make mistakes.
- I should never feel tired or be sick.
People who break the rules, anger someone who has the shoulds. And they also feel guilty when they themselves violate the rules. Of course, there are rules that society must abide by such as speed limits, parents giving children curfews or eating fruits and vegetables for a well-balanced diet. Those are not what we’re talking about
.Some of the balancing statements suggested to tone down the shoulds include questioning any personal rules or expectations that begin with the words should, ought or must. Think of at least three exceptions to your rule. And realize that people aren’t all the same.
Our personal values are personal to us only. In other words, allow for others to find different things important while focusing on each person’s uniqueness. If your children hear you avoiding ‘shoulding’ them, they may avoid undeserved guilt’s and may be able to focus and be proud of their individuality. Also, by finding fault less, you will be a model to look for what’s right in others and oneself!More in the ANTS series:
Part 1 – ANTS: Automatic Negative Thoughts
Part 2: Polarized Thinking
Part 3: Filtering
Part 4 Catastropizing
Part 5: Overgeneralization
Part 6: “Mind Reading”
Part 7: Magnifying
Part 8: “Shoulds”
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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