ANTs: Labeling

Two Faces of Name Calling: From ANTs to PETs

The two faces of name calling are labeling yourself or labeling others. Whether this ANT is aimed inward or outward, it can have a very isolating effect.

If you label yourself (‘I’m a loser’) you take away your control over your actions and you’ll start to believe your negative labels. This defeatist attitude will then mean you have a tendency to give up easily. The radar of educators and parents alike goes up when we see so much potential in a young person, who is limiting or sabotaging their opportunities by giving up when the going gets a little rough. Sometimes the going gets a lot rough but it is good to remember that resilience is a key attribute of healthy emotional intelligence.

When we label others because of their looks, beliefs or behavior, we dismiss them. Putting them in a box with a label (stupid, fat, racist, jerk) freezes us, as well. The impact creates a mind set that is unable or unwilling to resolve a problem. Considering what it would be like to walk in the other persons shoes fosters compassion. Viewing the world with compassion has the power to break down barriers, find common ground and reach respectful agreements.

Once you have answered the three questions on the ANTs cards:

Is this ANT really true?

How does this ANT make you feel?

Who would you be and how would you feel without this ANT?

Replacing your labeling ANTs with PETs (positive energizing thoughts) can be an effective strategy that can help flip your thinking.

Labeling yourself:

ANT: I am so stupid


Alternative thinking. Once you've considered the facts, write down a healthier way of thinking.

Sometimes I make a goal in the soccer game and sometimes I try my best and I don’t make it.

My coach told me I am an important member of the team.

Feelings: hopeful, a sense of belonging.

Affirmation: Maybe next time. I love being part of the team.

Labeling others:

ANT: She is so rude.


Alternative thinking. Once you've considered the facts, write down a healthier way of thinking.

Maybe she wasn’t ignoring me. She might not have heard me call out to her. Maybe she has something important on her mind.

Feelings: confused, curious, concerned

Affirmation: I’m a good friend. If a friend seems to be having a bad day, I can help by checking in with them at a good time. I can show I care by giving them space if they need it and leaving the door open.

The more time we take to entertain PETs (Positive Energizing Thoughts) the richer we become because we are putting deposits in our emotional bank to draw upon later.

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