3 Tips to Squash Compassionately Address Those “Sticky” Negative Thought Patterns

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As with all content on this site, these ideas are meant for personal development and wellness and not intended to be a substitute for getting professional guidance and help.

2021 update: Now, rather than talking about “killing the ANTS” (Dr. Amen’s ANTs = automatic negative thoughts) or “squashing” thoughts, I recommend approaches which are aligned with love AND are backed by gobs and gobs of science. (Truth be told, even way back when sharing Dr. Amen’s teachings, I would say “flick the ants,” because I’m not much of a killer.)


When you “squash” thoughts, kill the ants, are you achieving inner harmony, or are you helpless to a never ending internal game of whack-a-mole? Can I interest you in inner harmony instead? If yes, read the tips below.

Before getting into the tips, I do want to point out the importance of discernment. If there’s a negative thought, a negative phrasing or frame that you can simply shift and that feels good, by all means go for it. This is another post I wrote about trying on some thought shifts for size. If it fits, wear it. If changing the phrasing in your head sticks, wonderful. But if it doesn’t fit, e.g. if you are forcing a thought and the rest of your body is cringing, or another thought pops up to tell you how stupid this new one is, my advice is: Resist that whack-a-mole, forceful urge and try something else…

I offer the same advice when it comes to affirmations. Yes, there is research to tell us affirmations are helpful, but if you find that the affirmations don’t seem to be creating a shift in your emotional state, or if they feel hollow or forced, it might be a sign that you should try a different means to help you embody whatever it is you are trying to embody. 

When you sense that you’re not making the progress you’d like, it could be time to explore other techniques. Approaches like the evidenced-backed Internal Family Systems model (IFS) can help you access your inner fam — the different parts of you that all have helpful intent (more to come, below).  Havening Techniques, which involve soothing touch, can also help in uninstalling threat-based neuronal encodings that might be at the root of your current experience. Not discussed in this post, but things like hypnosis and lucid dreaming also offer a pathway to deeper subconscious material that might be influencing thoughts and behaviors.

The key is to listen to your internal responses and be open to trying different methods that can facilitate the shifts you are looking to make. What’s most important is finding what resonates with you and what brings about the changes you’re looking for.


Tip 1: IFS (Internal Family Systems)

Rather than a mono-mind view, IFS (like other models) understands the multiplicity of mind. We have different parts that can take the seat of consciousness in our mind. Check out this post: EGO’s ARE THE HELPERS. Parts always have the best of intentions. The outcomes sometimes… not so much. 

From the align with the 1 truth of love and light perspective: Parts have taken on particular roles to “help” the system. In doing so, they are now imprinted with a burden — this role that they think is helping you based on your past. So now we have something that is imprinted/unaligned from the 1 true frequency of love and light. Answer: Love your parts. The 6 F’s can help you do this. Parts can unburden, get realigned (my words), take on new, more productive roles, and be part of an inner family that is harmonious, and led by Self and with lots of Self Energy in the system. 

Check out this post on Michal Pasterski’s site for a nice write up on IFS. 


Tip 2: Havening Touch

Learn about Havening Touch:

Try it!

One of the reasons I love Havening Touch is because of how fast acting it is and how permanent the results. One of the ways we can try to change ourselves at the core (or near the core) is to try to hammer in affirmations. But when we affirm something, as loudly as we think it and command with, there can be part of ourself that’s like “Nope, that’s not true.” Then we hammer, hammer, hammer and hope someday that we will truly believe and embody this affirmation. For example, one of my clients wanted to call in the one. Though she had been using an affirmation “I am calling in the one,” it didn’t feel true to her. These were empty words. With Havening Touch, there is a protocol developed by Tony Burgess where we start with “What if I can call in the one?” Combining with other protocols (e.g. Dr. Kate Truitt’s Creating Possibilities Protocol) I had her move to “I can call in the one,” but then checked in to see how true it felt. We progressed on to “I will call in the one,” and “I am calling in the one,” only when it felt right and true for her. Depending on the context and how true the statements feel, I adapt the cues (add in a few more, as you can see below), but these are the general steps:

  • What if… (Eg “What if I’m confident?”)
  • I can…
    (If they don’t seem to believe they can, but I guess it’s likely that they have in the past, I ask them “Have you ever felt confident?” If they say yes, I invite them to recall that time, bringing in the feeling and as many senses as they can.)
  • I will…
    (If they don’t seem to believe that they will, I use another gem — a prompt Tony Burgess poses in his book, Beliefs and How to Change them for Good, which is “It’s easier than I think because…
  • I am….

Tip 3: Understand the 3 Main Physiological States and Where You are At

The physiological state that our nervous system (before we can even perceive what’s up) bumps us into precedes the story that we have about the world. It’s going to affect what parts pop up too. If your story about the world is one from YELLOW or RED, then these are not going to be good stories… or good thoughts. If you are in ever-stressed mode (YELLOW) focus on wellness — all 8 dimensions of wellness. If you are in YELLOW or RED all the time, get professional help/guidance.

In short the world is an unsafe crappy place when we’re in yellow, and it’s an isolating, unsafe, hopeless place when we are in RED.

Note that green/yellow/red is based on polyvagal theory and you can see more of my posts on this topic here. You can also read a nice article on cultivating resilience here.