ANTs and Light Switches
Our Powerful Word this month is Positive Attitude (yes, I know it’s technically a phrase), which got me thinking about ants and light switches.
It was a particularly worrisome time in my life.
I was about to graduate college and had ZERO job prospects lined up.
I felt like I was going to die, like literally die, if I didn’t have a job the day after graduation like most of my classmates did.
My mind flowed in a cascade of worsening tragedies that would befall me without a job…
I wouldn’t be able to buy food, I wouldn’t be able to pay rent and I’d get evicted from my apartment, I’d be living on the streets at age 22…
…on and on in a negative spiral ending in my demise on the shore of Lake Michigan under a downtown Chicago overpass.
It was overly dramatic and comic looking back on myself.
What’s ANT got to do with it?
ANT is an acronym for Automatic Negative Thoughts.
I had a whole colony of ANTs living in my head at the time.
My dad visited me at my apartment (I can’t remember exactly why) and stumbled into the middle of my pessimistic pity party.
I was in full meltdown mode, and he gave me the best positive pep talk he could as we knocked billiard balls around the pool table in my living room.
He made me feel better for awhile, but I still had that ANT problem that I didn’t know how to get rid of.
Until one of my teachers taught me how to exterminate these ANTs once and for all.
He said,”most people are dominated by negative thoughts, so you have to start practicing telling yourself positive things to counteract theses ANTs.”
“Ok. but what good with that do? (note the automatic pessimism)”
“Then,” he said,”at some point a switch in your mind will flip from negative to positive. What will happen is that you will begin to have Automatic Positive Thoughts (APTs) in any given situation. You can kiss worry, self-doubt, cynicism, struggle and self-sabotage good-bye and say hello to hope, confidence, FLOW and happiness.”
“Right,” I thought, but at this point I had nothing to lose.
So I did every cliched AFFIRMATION I could tell myself every day and started to focus on all the good that could come out of my day.
Little things, like I’ll find a good parking place, I’ll get in the fastest checkout line at the grocery store, I’m going to win my sparring matches.
I didn’t go crazy, like thinking I was going to win the lottery or anything like that, just little things as I went about my day.
Admittedly, it took some time and practice…BUT IT WORKED!
I was stunned!
One day that switch flipped for me from Negative to Positive.
Outwardly, I had NOTHING I wanted in my life, yet Life Was Good, better than every really.
I felt like a different person.
I felt invincible, like no bad circumstance could stress, depress or derail me.
Years before Obi-Wan Kenobi warned the man who would become the evil Darth Vader,”Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin, they betray you,” I figured it out.
My thoughts now benefited me.
For example, when I told everyone at my teacher’s school that I was going to move across the country to a state that I knew NO ONE and open martial arts school, the kindest words I got were,”good luck, but how are you going to do that?”
They Didn’t Believe I Could Do It!
Had I been controlled by their ANTs, I’d still be in Florida.
My (positive) attitude was that, even if I moved to Colorado and failed utterly, well, I’d still be living in a state I loved, so there was no downside.
Here I am 21 years later! 🙂
In the end, you have to crush your ANTs whenever they arise and replace them with APTs until that switch flips from Negative to Positive.
Then, your life will change for the better, automatically.