LoveYourBrainTips From Kevin: Get Rid Of ANTs!




Once a month, we will share “Tips from Kevin” as part of our LYB Tips series.  We hope these words of wisdom will help guide those of you in our community who have had a TBI, but will also be beneficial to anyone who is seeking optimal brain health.

Last Wednesday, on Back to the Future Day, I participated in a Google+ hangout hosted by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  I was honored to join a panel of scientists to discuss our topic, “Understanding the human brain”.

It’s been 2.5 years since President Obama launched the BRAIN initiative, a huge research effort to advance our understanding of the complex brain.  Just as scientists are committed to this mission, we have to be just as committed to loving our own brains.  

One way we love our brains is by “killing the ANTs”, which, when I said that on the panel, elicited very confused looks from everyone.  I explained that there aren’t actually insects running around in your brain (sorry for the visual).  But there are ANTs – Automatic, Negative Thoughts.

ANTs are damaging to the brain and do not provide a healthy environment for optimal healing.

How do you eliminate ANTs?

  1. First, recognize that it’s not easy and will take work.  Just as we train the body, we also have to train the mind – it cannot happen overnight.

  2. Be aware of your ANTs.  We all have them, but we’re not always mindful of them – that’s why they’re, well, automatic.  And if we’re not aware of their existence, then how can we possibly get rid of them?  So, start paying attention to your thoughts and notice how many ANTs you have each day.

  3. Then, focus on the positive.  The brain wants to keep busy.  It’s difficult to quiet the chatter (although meditation surely helps!), so shift your attention from negative thoughts to positive ones.  One way to think positively:  focus on what you’re grateful for.

My advice:  take charge of your healing, love your brain, and get rid of those ANTs!


Photos: Melissa Fuller, @melogram and Homer Horowitz, @home_slice