ANTs will inherit the Earth

ANTs will inherit the Earth

ANTs will inherit the Earth (if you let them)

ANTs being Automatic Negative Thoughts and how they can ruin your game

So the ANTs will inherit the Earth (if you let them). OK so for a change I’m failing to be witty in my title. No wait, I’m never witty. I’m never humorous. I am the least funny sport psychology consultant aka Certified Mental Trainer® on Earth. Why would I ever attempt humor to get a point across? Even my kids think I lack a complete sense of humor. I might just be the most serious unfunny person on the planet, maybe the Universe.  ANTs will inherit the Earth

Perhaps this would be a good place to take a breath. A few deep breaths as a matter of fact from below the diaphragm before I am so self-conscious I throw this post in the recycle bin and click the Empty Recycle Bin button.  If I do that, I give up an opportunity perhaps to reach someone who overwhelmed by ANT’s, will miss out on tremendous opportunities. OK I’ll take a chance and keep the title, after all some people do laugh at some of my stories when I am speaking. I’ve had more clients laugh than cry in my office (though there is a certain sport that is more tearful I have found). Even on occasion one or more of my sons have had milk come out their nose because of something I said was funny. Maybe this means I may not claim Mr. Unfunny Person in the Universe Award.

This is an example (totally made up of course) of a CBT- cognitive behavioral technique designed to help someone deal with an ANT. An ANT is an Automatic Negative Thought. We have them all of the time. The most ridiculous things pop into our heads and most of the time we accept them as truths, because there is no one to dispute them. They come from somewhere in our unconscious perhaps. Triggered by some association or another and we buy in. We believe in the thought. After all it’s our own thought. How can it be wrong?  Even if it makes us sad, mad, nervous or leaving us with a feeling that things are out of control. Hell, most of the time we don’t even recognize we really had that thought (this is the subject of a different post, but a real good reason to Journal). According to some of the research I’ve read we have more than 60,000 thoughts per day. We really can’t pay all that much attention to every one now can we? Yet we react to them just the same. We form a map if you will of what we can and cannot do. If you are an athlete why would you want an ANT telling you what you can or cannot carry out. Back in my youth I would never learned to dunk a basketball if I bought into ANTs, as back then I didn’t know a lot of six-foot seventeen year old’s from my neighborhood that could.  We tell ourselves all sorts of things that we need to fix.

The Fix

Write down your ANT (Automatic Negative Thought). This is harder than you think because first you need to recognize your feelings. So, if you are sad, mad, nervous or feel like things are out of control, stop a moment and identify what you are thinking. I’d like you to write or type out what you are thinking and feeling. This in itself is very effective as you are clarifying your thoughts and emotions. A good deal of the time you are projecting outcomes based on these thoughts. Some call this Fortune Telling. If I do this, then this will happen to me in the near future. If I write a funny tittle to my post and no one finds it funny, they will not call me for an appointment. If I play the golf course aggressively I will bogey the par 5 and loose the tournament. Or then there is Mind Reading. If I tell a funny story someone in the audience will think I’m stupid for trying to be funny and again not hire me. In this case I am projecting what someone might be thinking.

Ant on GolferA golf example of this is where one of my golfers three putted on a green from 12 feet because two college coaches were watching. She thought, if I miss this putt they will think I am terrible and not be interested in me.  That was just last week. Yesterday she shot a 70 in her first round, 2 under par. This was her first sub-par round ever. Even with coaches watching. Get rid of ANTs and positive things may happen.

One of the things that happens to us when we are either fortune-telling or mind reading is that we are not in the NOW. We are in the future and we cannot play effectively out of the present. The other thing is that our game or what we want to do is affected by those negative thoughts and emotions to the point where some people just give up.

The next step is to dispute those thoughts. Think of yourself as a teenager (many of you might still be). If you are like me on rare occasions (OK not so rare) I talked back to them when they said something I didn’t like. My boys of course never talk back to me.  (Another attempt at humor) Use that same tone of voice, if you will and dispute what the ANT is telling you. Break it down and show yourself the lie, the un-truths.  You have a 12 foot putt for birdie. The coaches just saw me hit a great shot. I can roll this putt in. When we conquer the ANTs, we allow ourselves to not only be present, but we can perform at much higher levels in sport and everything else with positive focus. This plays a major role in our confidence levels, focus and how we deal with stress. 

I guess I will keep the tittle as is. Because I know I have produced magic from time to time and milk has mysteriously shot out of all of my sons’ noses one time or another. So perhaps while I may not be Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy or even Lenny Bruce I can produce a smile once in a while. If that is the case, then my original statement to myself cannot be true and if it is not all true and can’t be real.

Here are the steps: 

1- Take a deep breath

2- Write down your thoughts

3- Dispute them like you are a teenager

4- Get on with your game because you are free to be you

I guess I can keep the tittle, go for a small smile or laugh. I might even get that ANT off my own back and go out and play a good round of golf. Hold on. Let’s not get delusional here. If you would like to join me on the golf course or in my office please drop in at The Mental Game.


This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar  Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; TheMental-Game.com Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential. Read more from this author


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