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Section 18
Domineering Resident Technique #3
Control your Thoughts...Control your Feelings

Table of Contents

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, "Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right."

Initial reactions to a Domineering Resident’s misconduct are typically emotional. Scientists and philosophers have been speculating for years about what causes bad moods.  The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, stated, “Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.”  Think about Epictetus’ statement.  What is the view you take of your Domineering Resident?  The point of view that your thoughts create, rather than the actual events themselves, create your mood.  That bears repeating and expands upon this idea previously presented.

The point is… that your MOOD is not created by what actually did or did not happen.
But your mood is created by your THOUGHTS or interpretation about what did or did not happen.

Emotions have two components:
1) Physical Arousal: (physical sensations—stomach churning, butterflies, dizziness, headache, etc.).  Example:  A resident yells or frowns or stomps off in angry disapproval and you feel a knot in your stomach, pain in your neck or back, or feel a headache coming on.  These are examples of physical arousal.

2) Labeling the Incident: The second component is a label your thoughts give to this incident so that your mind knows what to call it.  Ten of these labels are explored at the end of this Section.

Those who subscribe to this line of thinking, myself included, believe that you become upset because of the way you think about an event.  I would like to repeat that sentence as well.

You become upset because of the way you THINK about an event.

Here's an example of labeling.  A Domineering Resident yells, "What?  No Bingo today!  That’s your job to provide us with activities!"  Now… you have the ability to label this event any way you like. This ability then helps to define your emotional experience as being good or bad or somewhere in between. 

However, distortions, or Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts, provide you with a protective net around yourself that twists and colors your feelings according to what you think.

Ask yourself, "Do I use self-defeating labeling that forms the walls from which I wish to break?”  The Domineering Resident and perhaps other domineering staff create the bricks and mortar of these walls.  However, through your own thought process, you become responsible for the wall’s upkeep.  You keep these self-defeating walls up by not taking the time to analyze your inaccurate, automatic thoughts.

Here’s another metaphor.  Everyone looks at themselves through a telescope.  If your telescope is in good repair, you see yourself as important and clearly focused.  Unfortunately, most people look through a telescope that is not accurately focused, or it’s smudged, or slightly cracked.  This blocks the way you see yourself in your life and work and actually can distort your impression of a situation

This distorted telescopic view creates distorted thinking styles.  These distorted thoughts filtered through the distorted lens can cause you to automatically apply, for example, labels to people and events before you get a chance to evaluate them accurately.  You may ask, "So what?" 

The problem is the 10 Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts listed below give you only one side of any situation and cause you to base your decisions on an emotional rather than a rational basis.  You are the only person in this world who can make yourself feel depressed, worried, or angry. Similarly, you are the only one who can elect not to have these feelings—you can choose to be happy in spite of a resident who complains that his or her favorite group activity has been canceled; or you can choose to feel like a miserable failure at your job.

If you are unsuccessful in getting through to a domineering resident by, for example, providing your rationale for decreasing your number of group activities, you may feel sad, angry at yourself, or self-critical. Your inner critic may start to whisper in your ear. Are you aware of your inner critic?  Your thinking becomes distorted and you may tell yourself that “you’re doing something wrong, you should make all of the residents happy, there is something wrong with you!"  However, it would be less self-defeating to tell yourself that life is unfair and admit you cannot be everything to everybody all the time.  However, how often do you choose to mindlessly label a situation? The Inaccurate Thoughts below are an automatic process created perhaps over years of practice of maybe beating up on yourself or putting yourself down.

Below are ten distorted or inaccurate thoughts.  They are very natural. We all have these thoughts.  However, when you choose to change the way you think, you turn negative, distorted, automatic thoughts into useful concepts.
As you read the 10 Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts that follow, have a specific unpleasant incident involving a Domineering Resident in mind.  Write it below.  Then complete the "Take Action Exercise" at the end of this Section.  _____________________________________________________________________________

1. Overgeneralization. From one isolated event you make a general, universal rule. Example: "One unhappy resident means I am a failure as an Activity Director."

Write your own example of Overgeneralization:

2. Global labeling. You automatically use negative and critical labels to describe yourself, rather than accurately pinpointing your qualities.  Example:  "I am a bad Activity Director."

Write your own example of Global labeling:

3. Filtering. You selectively pay attention to the negative and disregard the positive.  Example:  Focusing your thoughts on the one or two Domineering Residents who are complaining about the program changes, rather than focusing on the numerous others you have made happy.

Write your own example of Filtering:

4. Polarized thinking. You lump things into absolute, black-and-white categories, with no middle ground. You have to be perfect or you are left feeling worthless.  Example:  "Mabel is upset and attends fewer group activities.  I think I should quit my job!"

Write your own example of Polarized thinking:

5. Catastrophizing. Worst-case scenario thinking. The danger is that expecting the worst helps it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Example:  "Mabel is upset and attends fewer group activities.  She probably will file a complaint with CMS and I will lose my job!"

Write your own example of Catastrophizing:

6. Personalization. You assume that everything has something to do with you, and you negatively compare yourself to everyone else.  Example:  "I am sure Mabel is upset because of something I did or said or didn’t do."

Write your own example of Personalization:

7. Mind reading. You assume that others don’t like you, are angry with you, don’t care about you, and so on, without any real evidence that your assumptions are correct.  Example:  "Mabel has a frown on her face.  I am sure she is upset about the group activity I canceled."

Write your own example of Mind reading:

8. Illusion of control. You feel that you have total responsibility for everybody and everything, or feel that you have no control, that you’re a helpless victim.  Example:  "What can I do?  I cannot do anything!"

Write your own example of the Illusion of control:

9. Emotional reasoning. You assume that things are the way you feel them to be. Others are assumed to have the same feelings as you.  Example, "I feel upset.  Therefore there must be something to be upset about!"

Write your own example of Emotional reasoning:

10.  Should statements.  You try to motivate yourself by saying you should, must, or have got to … do this certain thing; or that someone else should, must or has got to… do this certain thing.  Example:  "She should have or not have done…"  "She should not be upset." 

Write your own example of a Should statement:


Permission is granted to duplicate this table for staff use.  Considering using these ideas as a guide for additional Journaling.
If you compare your perceptions of a situation with others who have experienced the same event, they may have viewed the situation quite differently and therefore reacted quite differently. However, it is important to remember that there need not be an objective “true” reality.  Everyone has their own agenda, perspec­tive, eyes and ears, and telescope, to use a metaphor from a previous section.

Awareness is the first step to change!  If you can bring your subconscious use of the preceding Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts into your conscious awareness you can:
1. Change the way you think, which results in…
                        2. Changing the way you feel.

In short, stop blaming your Domineering Resident for your "bad mood" and start taking responsibility for the thoughts that created your "bad mood."  You cannot control the other person but you can control your thoughts, with practice, through increased awareness.  Get started now to take charge of your life!  Take charge of your happiness!  Make a change now!  It's simple… complete the table below.  Duplicate this Section.  Keep the list of 10 Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts, perhaps, in your car.  Review the list on your way home from work, for example. 

To increase your awareness of your use of Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts, on the table below write examples. 

1. Think of a situation that your thoughts are labeling as negative or stressful for whatever reason. 

2. Identify your Inaccurate Automatic Thought related to the situation above in #1.

1.  Overgeneralization

5.  Catastrophizing

9.  Emotional reasoning

2.  Global labeling

6.  Personalization

10.  Should statements

3.  Filtering

7.  Mind reading


4.  Polarized thinking

8.  Illusion of control


3. Think of a more accurate statement regarding the situation you wrote in #1, in light of the Inaccurate Automatic Thought in #2.

4.  Notice the improvement in your emotional state or mood regarding this specific situation.  Have you gone from angry to merely aggravated?  From extremely fearful to only slightly fearful?  From totally depressed to feeling okay?  And so on….

5.  This obviously is a universal skill to improve the quality of your life.  It does not have to be limited to Domineering Residents.  In what other situations could you use this skill?

Permission is granted to duplicate this table for staff use.  Considering using these ideas as a guide for additional Journaling.

I feel the ten Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts above have been, and are, the extremely beneficial to me on a daily basis.  However, you are the best judge as to whether these concepts are beneficial for you.  Would journaling regarding your use of Inaccurate Automatic Thoughts be beneficial to you concerning your encounters with not only domineer residents but staff members as well?  Remember Culture Change requires interdisciplinary cooperation.

Forward to Section 19
Back to Section 17

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