Get rid of ANTs & Change your thinking!

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gen-next-short-logoThis was originally written for the latest Generation Next Newsletter.

Of late, more and more schools are asking me to work with their students as well as their staff.

My most popular workshop at the moment is Learning to Bounce where we explore resilience.

Resilience is generally accepted to mean the ability to bounce back after adversity.

However, inspired by the words of Dr Sue Roffey a couple of years back, I’ve been fascinated by the notion that resilience is also the ability to bounce forward.

Specifically, Dr Roffey talks of Post Traumatic Growth as opposed to the more commonly thought of, Post Traumatic Stress.

When I’m working with staff and students, we explore how being resilient also gives us the confidence to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. To take opportunities we might otherwise pass up if we feared failure. This is another example of how resilient people bounce forward.

One of the things we can all do to enhance our resilience (like any ability, we can develop it) is to look out for ANTs, or Automatic Negative Thoughts.


Everyone experiences these thoughts from time-to-time, and how we deal with them can have a huge impact on our lives.

See which of these four ANTs you can recognize in yourself.

Catastrophising – It’s a disaster! It’s completely ruined.

Overgeneralising – Everyone else is going, No-one likes me.

Filtering – When someone asks you how your day was, you forget the three positive things that happened and focus on the one negative.

Mind-reading – They said they liked it, but they were just being polite.

There are many more, and sometimes it’s easier to spot ANTs in others before you see them in yourself.

If you do see an ANT… try to get rid of it!

Challenge your thinking.

Have you got all the facts? Can you look at it from the other person’s point of view? Is ruminating on the issue doing you any good at all? Can you accept or solve the situation?

It’s not easy. It takes practice. But just for the next week, try some ANT spotting.

Because sometimes just identifying them can change the way you look at a situation.

And if you can do that, you’ve taken the first step to strengthening your resilience and being able to bounce forward.

0 Comments on “Get rid of ANTs & Change your thinking!

  1. Hi Dan, I love the concept of ‘bounce forward’. It is about being proactive in our environment and giving us skills to take charge of our lives rather than feel powerless. It is really important to have skills that enable us to cope when things are genuinely going badly but, as you say, it is also important to have the skills that enable us to regain control of that ‘amygdala hijack’!, put things in perspective and drive ourselves forward when the going gets a little tough. I think the idea of bouncing forward can also apply to seizing opportunities in a really positive way. Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset’ concept plays in perfectly to your invitation here! And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to squash an ANT!

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