A.N.T.S. ~ Automatic Negative Thought Syndrome

Albert Ellis has compiled a list of commonly held irrational ideas, many of which we all believe at one time or another. They are all false, but for some people they are a part of their basic philosophy of life and, as such, are the cause of much unhappiness.

Just as the Greek philosophers did, you can get rid of these ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out. But for most people, this requires a great deal of work, even with the aid of a practitioner of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

Hypnosis can often help by aiding people to banish their negative ideas more quickly, and to replace them more easily with positive ideas to try out as a substitute. If the new ideas fit more comfortably with your personality and your other core beliefs, they will be retained and you will be well on your way to a happy and well-adjusted life style.

Here is Ellis's list of potential culprits.

1. I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

2. I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world whose "bad-guy list" you will never get off of once you are on it. This is too bad, of course; but there's no point in making your own life miserable by trying to please people who aren't willing to be pleased.

3. When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.

4. It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have a such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships and romantic attachments because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration. If you are one of them, perhaps it's time to "hear what wine and roses say."

5. Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Some people describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. (The prisons are full of them!)

6. If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away. "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"

7. It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth. But we have to get through them first!

8. Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!

9. It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to. There is an old saying which goes, "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans." Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. But there is another saying which goes, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!"

10. I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.

Of course, this brief list does not cover all the false and irrational beliefs that people hold about themselves, the world, and the future. But it's a good place to start! Following are two excellent sources of additional information on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which is very similar to the parallel movement of cognitive-behavior therapy which was begun at about the same time by A. T. Beck and his followers. Although these books do not specifically deal with hypnosis, the applications should be obvious to those of us who are well versed in these procedures. Additional information on REBT is available from the Institute for Rational Living in New York City. Ellis, A. (1990). How to stubbornly refuse to make yourself miserable about anything -- yes, anything! New York: Kensington Publishing Co. Ellis, A., & Lange, A. (1993). How to keep people from pushing your buttons. New York: Kensington Publishing Co.

In addition, one of the most powerful books I have read is by Eknath Easwaran, "Conquest of Mind" Check out the website honoring Eknath and his philosphy: http://www.easwaran.org/page/220