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What To Do About ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts)?

Written by: Agnes Chau, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you experience automatic negative thoughts? Perhaps a friend didn’t call when they said they would. You may start thinking this person is unreliable, irresponsible, and disrespectful. Then you realize that your phone was on silent mode in another room. In a short period of time, you may go from being upset with the other person, to being upset with yourself.

In Dr. Daniel Amen’s book, “Change Your Brain Change Your Life”, he talks about the 9 ANTs ‒ Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the intrusive thoughts that pop into our heads that do not serve us. The options presented are to “kill the ANTs” by talking back to them, using Byron Katie’s 4 questions:

  1. Is it true?

  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?

  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?

  4. Who would you be without the thought?

In conducting transformational coaching sessions, I have observed clients putting this into action and being able to control their own thoughts and emotions better. By being aware of one’s negative thoughts, identifying the type of ANT, and talking back to it, they are able to be more in control of their thoughts and emotions, and not let the ANTs fester.

When explaining the concept of how to deal with the ANTs, I was challenged by an empathic person, to come up with something that does not involve the words “kill the ANTs”. In response, I offered transmutation questions to transform the Automatic Negative Thoughts into Automatic Nurturing Thoughts. Transmutation questions help the mind break the pattern, think about possible solutions, and expand one’s view of a situation.

Types of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Transmutation Questions &

Automatic Nurturing Thoughts

All-or-Nothing ANTs

Thinking that things are either all good or all bad

What is one thing that could be better?

What is one thing that is not too bad?

I have the resources to face the ups and downs

Less than ANTs

Comparing and seeing yourself as less than others

Who do I want to be? How do I be my authentic self?

I take baby steps towards my goals.

I take baby steps to align with my Divine Path.

Just the Bad ANTs

Seeing only the bad in a situation

What’s great about this situation?

Is a vulnerability exposed that needs to be addressed?

What am I not aware of?

There is nothing to fear, something good will come out of this.

Guilt Beating ANTs

Thinking in words like should, must, ought, or have to

What is an action or baby step that I can take? I take baby steps towards my goals.

Labeling ANTs

Attaching a negative label to yourself or someone else

Isn’t it interesting that I’ve attached limitations to myself or others?

I am more than a label and so is…

Types of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

Transmutation Questions &

Automatic Nurturing Thoughts

Fortune Telling ANTs

Predicting the worst possible outcome for a situation with little or no evidence for it

What if I’m surprised by the outcome?

Wouldn’t it be great if there is a different outcome?

Surprises are the spice of life.

Mind Reading ANTs

Believing you know what other people are thinking even though they haven’t told you

What if they surprise me?

Wouldn’t it be great if there is a different outcome than usual?

Other people’s thoughts are their business. Just because someone thinks something, doesn’t make it true.

“If Only” and “I’ll Be Happy When” ANTs Where you argue with the past and long for the future

What can I be happy about in the present time? I am happy with … in my life right now.

Blaming ANTs

Blaming someone else for your problems

How am I responsible for contributing?

What can I do to change the situation around? I take responsibility for what is in my control.

The ABCs to Transmuting Automatic Negative Thoughts to Automatic Nurturing Thoughts

1. Awareness

First is the awareness of one’s state and any automatic negative thoughts that arise. Before arriving at conclusions, ask: How else can I view this situation? What else is going on that I am not aware of? Be present in the moment, and remember to breathe to calm down the fight, flight, freeze, or appease response.

2. Beliefs

Start identifying and questioning the beliefs associated with the automatic negative thoughts. Talk back to the ANTs using Byron Katie’s 4 questions. Then turn the thought around to experience the opposite belief.

3. Challenge

Challenge yourself by asking “What do I want instead?” Identify the actions you are willing to take to be in a better state. This is where you can be creative.

Additional modalities to apply for a fast turnaround:

1. Leverage the power of visualization and the energy around you. In the visible light spectrum, the color violet has the highest frequency and highest energy. It is the coalesced spiritual energy of love, mercy, justice, freedom, and transmutation. By invoking the violet flame, one may achieve a state of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. This in turn can bring one into a state of peace and gratitude.

2. Harness the power of the subconscious mind to align with the conscious mind’s goals. The subconscious mind is a supercomputer and operates at 40 million bits per second, while the conscious mind operates at 40 bits per second. The subconscious mind records everything. There are a lot of old programs that may be running that no longer serve us. One of the fastest modalities to reprogram the subconscious mind to align with the conscious mind’s goals is a PSYCH-K® balance. This is bringing oneself to a whole-brain state through postures or movements that release stress in either hemisphere of the brain or body related to the goal statement. It can also be done to transform the perception of a stressful or traumatic event.


Know that there are always strategies, tools, and techniques to help transmute automatic negative thoughts into automatic nurturing thoughts. It starts with having awareness, then questioning one’s beliefs, and then challenging oneself to take action towards nurturing thoughts.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website to learn more.


Agnes Chau, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Agnes Chau is a Transformational Life Coach and Private Consultant. With her training in various life-transforming modalities and her prior experience as an Engineering Executive, Agnes helps clients succeed in all aspects of life. Agnes enjoys helping people tap into their Divine Intelligence to identify the most effective path forward for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. She specializes in PSYCH-K®, Tong Ren tapping, and other modalities for wellbeing. Agnes has received many awards, including, Connecticut Woman of Innovation for Large Business Innovation and Leadership, the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead award, the Society of Women Engineers’ Advocating Women in Engineering Award, and several patents.

Agnes is also the President and Founder of The Empowered Heart, Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit She volunteers her time as a certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Women Empowered Instructor.


Photo Credit: Devy Walker


Some resources to support the journey to transmute automatic negative thoughts to automatic nurturing thoughts:

  1. Read Dr. Amen’s book: “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”

  2. Discover your brain type:

  3. Free brain health questionnaires to understand how your thinking and feelings are connected with different parts of your brain:

  4. Learn about the power of the Violet Flame

  5. Attend a future Empowered Heart Circle sponsored by The Empowered Heart: https://

  6. Sign up for a transformation session with Agnes: 7) Find a PSYCH-K® facilitator who resonates with you: preferred-facilitators-disclaimer/



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