Mastering the Monkey Mind – 2 steps to freedom from ANTS
If someone offered you the key to unlock the door to complete mastery of your mind and emotions would you take it or leave it?
That’s the question to keep “in mind” while you read this article that will demonstrate how EASY it is to stop negative mind chatter (just 2 steps) and why this is the Key to ending our dance with unconscious patterns that keep us locked in an inner prison of unfulfilled hopes and dreams as well as the accumulated effects of daily stress.
What is the result of stopping negative mind chatter or ANTS? (ANT means Automatic Negative Thinking, the acronym coined by Dr. Daniel Amen, a leading researcher on brain and behavior.)
The result of eradicating mind chatter ANTS:
A calm, centered mind, restful sleep, increased productivity, easier decision making, and an easy-going attitude towards life’s ups and downs. If this is something you want, I’ve discovered the key that unlocks the inner-prison door. And to boot, a much easier time meditating.
Because we are going to be talking about ANTs, I just have insert this movie poster from the 1954 sci-fi flick, “THEM”. If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s worth checking out. It’s considered one of the best sci fi films of the 1950s. It’s even more entertaining if you watch it and make the connection between THEM –the ants, and the negative mind chatter going on in the collective psyche, post WWII and in the beginning of the nuclear era! Being a fan of acronyms, I like to call THEM (the ANTs) “Thoughts Hijacking Emotional Mastery”!
I’ll explain later why ending mind chatter is so key to unlocking all other undesirable conditions. And by the way, this one “condition” is the common denominator on the list my clients share with me as we start the easy process of ending old habits.
But first let’s look at the before and after picture of ANTS.
I’ll use an example of hosting a picnic to show the difference:
The ANT party:
BEFORE: Start planning a picnic and up creeps an Automatic Negative Thought – “Something might go wrong” or “I probably won’t do it right” –> worry —>anxiety –> procrastination —>stress –> feeling sick and/or tired —> sending out this “sick and tired” vibe to everyone around us —->people tend to avoid us in this state —> isolation —> depression —> the ants carry off the chips or there’s no picnic at all!
AFTER: Start planning a picnic and up creeps an ANT —“What if I mess up somehow?” —> oops! There’s an ANT —> Shift the thought out of the deep limbic brain structure from whence it came! Into the Frontal Cortex of the brain —-> Go back to planning a great picnic —> Enjoy an amazing picnic with friends!
(And by the way, I have nothing against ant insects. They are an important part of our ecosystem and play key roles of ecosystem engineers.)
So as you can tell from this quick example, the KEY is healing the very cause of the ANT right at its source – the deep limbic structure of the brain!
Dr. Amen says this: “When the deep limbic system (the emotional center of the brain) is overactive, it sets the mind’s filter on “negative”. His theory is this: “My patients have to heal their deep limbic systems to change their negative thinking patterns.”
I’ve looked at 6 suggestions and techniques that claim to be the solution to ending negative mind chatter. I’ll share these quickly, including Dr. Amen’s “kill the ant” technique and then suggest a process that is 1) way easier than any of them and 2) is quick and effective. According to Dr. Amen, if you have enough red ants at the picnic, you can’t enjoy the beautiful day, the delicious food that you’ve prepared or even the lovely people you are with!
(If you want to skip to the 2 step process that is easy and works, just scroll past my summary of the 6 current thought methods of eliminating ANTs.)
6 Current ideas about how to end mind chatter:
1) Gut it out and do it anyway! This one is actually my old practice of getting things done despite my negative mind chatter. I grew up in a very negative personal reality of childhood abuse which created a pessimistic world view. I had no training on how to be positive. Even though I had chronically negative thoughts, I found a way to get things done successfully by just gutting it out and doing it.
In many ways, my life stands in direct opposition to the Law of Attraction (a topic for a later article.) I even went so far as to be mentored by the leading “positive thinking gurus” on the planet. And I still couldn’t force my way into positive thinking. Challenge with this approach: it creates a huge amount of stress and a perception of failure if you can’t force your way into being positive!
2) Consciously clearing (suggested by Marcia Reynolds, PsyD)– “you have to empty your brain to control your mind”. The idea is that you start by practicing clearing your mind for one minute and building up until you can do it at will. This is a cornerstone to meditation. However, if you have an overactive mind, it is likely that you have tried meditation and given up at some point for the very reason that you can’t stop your mind and meditation gets annoying!
Challenge with this approach: it either doesn’t work (try it for one minute and see how you do!) or it takes a lot of time and patience.
3) Concentration exercises (suggested by Remez Sasson, author of “How to Focus Your Mind”) – “Shutting down the mental noise voluntarily develops gradually, and over a long period of time through concentration exercises and meditation.” Challenge with this approach: it takes a long time and people generally do not devote the time to do it.
4) Make peace with mind chatter (suggested by Steve Andreas) – “If you have ever tried to stop a critical voice, you know that it is extremely difficult—if not impossible—to do.” He suggests that rather, we make peace with it (accept mind chatter) and then try to educate it so that it speaks to us in ways that are more helpful and useful, becoming a friendly and supportive ally instead of a cruel tormentor. Challenge: you can’t think your way into educating the deep limbic system where these thoughts arise.
5) Stop negative mind chatter by no longer pursuing the goals that create it (suggested by Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D) This is an interesting one. Dr. Raghunathan participated in a research project that identified 3 categories of negative mind chatter: a) thoughts related to inferiority, b) thoughts related to love and approval and c) thoughts related to control-seeking. He explains, “Each of these categories of mental chatter is, I believe, rooted in goals and values to which most of us blindly subscribe. As such, it’s not surprising that our thoughts revolve around inferiority, love, and control. For example, most of are brought up to succeed and excel in life; as a result, we are habituated to comparing ourselves—in terms of our skills, talents and endowments—with that of our peers, which generates inferiority-related thoughts.” He wonders what would happen if we simply stop pursing the goals of success, of being in love and of being in control. Challenge: most of us probably don’t want to do this or have no idea how to go about it and get anything accomplished!
6) KILL the ANT – Feed your anteater! (suggested by Dr. Daniel Amen). Dr. Amen’s “feed your anteater and feel better” exercise is an excellent tool. First you learn about the 9 types of ANT species, and then monitor your thoughts. As ANTs creep into your thoughts, you use his worksheet process to interact with the ANT species and talk to the ANT, thereby killing the ANT and feeling better. Challenge: Again, it takes a lot of work, constant self-monitoring and practice, practice, practice. But the process is so good, that I am sure I will continue to use it from time to time to clean up any random ANTs that creep up on me!
So if these don’t really work or take a lot of time and effort what does work? Sound therapy and a simple brain exercise!
Here are the two steps, created by Dr. Dennis Manness of Brain Tek Institute, that easily and effectively work to end mind chatter:
1) Create more effective brain-based neural pathways. Using cutting edge sound therapy developed by Brain Tek Institute, you first rewire your brain’s neural circuity that automatically (a la ANT) drives your thoughts into the deep brain structure called the cingulate gyrus. The cingulate gurus is part of the limbic system responsible for repeating thoughts and emotions over and over again. By rewiring your brain, you restore effective higher-thinking processes that occur without your having to “think about it.” The sound protocols do the work for you. All you need to do is relax and listen! This is the easy solution to what Dr. Amen suggests: healing your limbic system to eliminate negative mind chatter.
2) You easily shift your thoughts and emotions out of the limbic system and into the frontal cortex of the brain. During the 4 to 6 week program, you will learn how to use a simple technique to shift your thoughts into the frontal cortex of your brain, thereby immediately eliminating the cascade of emotions and behaviors that perpetuate negative mind chatter.
That’s it! It is easy, effective and it lasts. No time-consuming thought-policing, exercises or trying to wrestle your brain into positivity.
The final piece of information in this article is this:
Why ending negative mind chatter is this the key to establishing “emotional and mental mastery
Ending negative mind chatter is KEY because one ANT never lives alone! Ants live in ant hills, called colonies. If you eradicate one red ant, you still have thousands of underground red ants to deal with. And until recently, scientist believed that ant colonies were discreet units, consisting sometimes of as many as 306 million worker ants and one million queen ants! However, more recent research suggests that there is something called a “single-global mega-colony”. What does this analogy mean for our brains?
Until we deal with the mega-colony of red ANTs that reside in the brain’s limbic system, we will deal with the cascade of emotions and thoughts that develop over time as the ANT’s run around unchecked: negative mind chatter leads to all the other patterns I described in the “before” picnic scenario: worry, rumination, anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
When we eliminate negative mind chatter, we automatically feel better, more at peace, more capable of making good decisions and a whole host of other positive changes. And the good news, is we don’t have to think our way into it. It happens naturally as our limbic system relaxes and no longer hijacks the rest of our brain.
I have seen this at work with my Brain Tek clients who have gone through the 4 or 6 week program. Without exception, every person I have brought through Brain Tek’s Behavioral Relationship Entrainment program stated that they wanted to deal with their ‘mind chatter issue”.
Just for fun, I will elaborate on how the successful picnic unfolds after we heal the deep limbic system in the brain:
Thought: “I’m going to invite my friends to a picnic.” Because old neural pathways are still in the brain, even after sound therapy, the one little ANT may show up again: “I might not do it right”. But after sound therapy, what occurs, is we notice this thought right away and we naturally shift it OUT of the deep brain structure, namely, the cingulate gyrus, and easily drive our brain’s dominant function to the frontal cortex – the “executive decision maker” of our brains. So if and when we notice an ANT, we simply say to ourselves, “shift the dominance!” That’s it! The pattern stops right there!
And with great enjoyment, we invite our friends, plan the picnic, don’t worry about the weather and voila! Enjoy an ant-free, beautiful day with people we love spending time with. We feel great! We are satisfied and fulfilled with things that matter – people, rich and meaningful sharing and a deep sense of contentment.
That’s the picnic I’m planning! And I can do it now, and so can my clients who have experienced the life-changing and easy process of Behavioral Relationship Entrainment.
To learn more about the Brain Tek program, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org