ANTS, or Automatic Negative Thoughts, impact children and adults alike but can be combatted with God’s truths.
As I sat in my son’s bed reading a bedtime story I heard my two girls in the other room getting ready for bed. They were giggling at first and then they began to bicker.
I thought, Oh no, here we go again.
A minute later, my oldest came into the room and said, “Mommy, she says if you don’t have your ears pierced you are a baby. ”
It had been a long day; I was comfortable snuggling with my boy. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and referee another squabble. So instead of interceding to talk to the offending little sister, I said to my big girl,
“You know that’s not true, right?” Her answer was “Yes.”
I responded, “If you know it’s not true, why do you let it upset you?”
She shrugged her shoulders and left the room.
I felt the Holy Spirit say “Why do you believe the things that aren’t true about you?” Hmm…
I realized with that Holy Spirit intervention that I’d been listening to whatever thoughts popped into my head and believed them to be true. I entertained negative thoughts about my self-worth and let my emotions breed discontent. This typically made me grumpy and impatient with others. I’d think:
My husband didn’t call me today OR yesterday from work; he must not be thinking about me.
Those moms didn’t invite me to lunch. Did I do something wrong? Do they not like me?
Each time negative thoughts enter my mind I can choose to dwell on them or think something different. Positive thinking helps, but God’s Word and prayer are even more powerful.
When you change the way you think, you change your mind, heart, words, and eventually your behavior for the better.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Instead of being hurt by or angry with my husband I can remind myself of Colossians 3:12 that says I am God’s beloved.
God has chosen you as His own special people…. (CEV)
I can pray that God would help my husband manage his workload, so he has time in his day to call me. It’s also a good idea to ask God for creative ways to bless him when he gets home from a long day at the office.
Rather than worrying about not being included in what others are doing, I can rest in knowing that Jesus calls me friend (John 15:15) and He sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). I can pray that God would show me the gift I have in my current circle of friends. Also, I can ask Him how to grow and nurture those relationships and even ask for new ones.
Negative thoughts and emotions don’t discriminate. Both children and adults have to decide if they’ll allow them to linger in their mind. In the book, Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions by Dr. Daniel Amen, children are encouraged to change their negative thinking patterns to live happier and healthier lives. Captain Snout teaches kids that their thoughts have power. “They can change the way you feel! They can make you feel GOOD, or they can make you feel ROTTEN!” He also reveals the super power questions that can help children get rid of their ANTs, automatic negative thoughts.
Our little ones do not have to agree with every thought or emotion that enters their mind. Equipped with the technique Dr. Amen shares, our kids can learn this valuable principle when they are young. And while we read this book together we will be reminded of it as well.
My daughter walked back into her room and let her sister know that she was, in fact, not a baby just because she hadn’t pierced her ears. I loved that she was empowered to confront her negative thoughts and emotions (and her little sister) with truth.
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Which negative thoughts most often try to fill your mind? Have you tried to approach these thoughts with prayer and reflection on God’s Word? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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