NAVIGATION

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Difficulties in Emotion Regulation

Julia HUANG, Psychotherapist

Every one of us has all kinds of emotions every day, often negative ones more than positive ones. And people tend to have better memory of their negative experiences, why? Because our brain developed in a way to help us survive by remembering those dangerous events.

Today, we are no longer living in the jungle, but our brain still reacts the way that puts survival needs first. Therefore, emotion regulation is an essential ability to help us adapt to our daily life. Here we would like to introduce you this emotion regulation scale. Check and see if you have any of the difficulties listed below (or how well you regulate yourself).

father's day. child daughter sits on her dad shoulders outdoors on a summer beach

DIFFICULTIES IN EMOTION REGULATION SCALE (DERS)

Please indicate how often the following statements apply to you by writing the appropriate number from the scale below on the line beside each item.

1

1. _______ I am clear about my feelings.

2. _______ I pay attention to how I feel.

3. _______ I experience my emotions as overwhelming and out of control.

4. _______ I have no idea how I am feeling.

5. _______ I have difficulty making sense out of my feelings.

6. _______ I am attentive to my feelings.

7. _______ I know exactly how I am feeling.

8. _______ I care about what I am feeling.

9. _______ I am confused about how I feel.

10. _______ When I’m upset, I acknowledge my emotions.

11. _______ When I’m upset, I become angry with myself for feeling that way.

12. _______ When I’m upset, I become embarrassed for feeling that way.

13. _______ When I’m upset, I have difficulty getting work done.

14. _______ When I’m upset, I become out of control.

15. _______ When I’m upset, I believe that I will remain that way for a long time.

16. _______ When I’m upset, I believe that I’ll end up feeling very depressed.

17. _______ When I’m upset, I believe that my feelings are valid and important.

18. _______ When I’m upset, I have difficulty focusing on other things.

19. _______ When I’m upset, I feel out of control.

20. _______ When I’m upset, I can still get things done.

21. _______ When I’m upset, I feel ashamed with myself for feeling that way.

22. _______ When I’m upset, I know that I can find a way to eventually feel better.

23. _______ When I’m upset, I feel like I am weak.

24. _______ When I’m upset, I feel like I can remain in control of my behaviors.

25. _______ When I’m upset, I feel guilty for feeling that way.

26. _______ When I’m upset, I have difficulty concentrating.

27. _______ When I’m upset, I have difficulty controlling my behaviors.

28. _______ When I’m upset, I believe that there is nothing I can do to make myself feel better.

29. _______ When I’m upset, I become irritated with myself for feeling that way.

30. _______ When I’m upset, I start to feel very bad about myself.

31. _______ When I’m upset, I believe that wallowing in it is all I can do.

32. _______ When I’m upset, I lose control over my behaviors.

33. _______ When I’m upset, I have difficulty thinking about anything else.

34. _______ When I’m upset, I take time to figure out what I’m really feeling.

35. _______ When I’m upset, it takes me a long time to feel better.

36. _______ When I’m upset, my emotions feel overwhelming.

Scoring: Put a minus sign in front of your rating numbers for these items: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 17, 20, 22, 24, and 34. Then sum up all your ratings, adding the positives and subtracting the negatives, and write the result here: _______.

Family running on beach smiling

This number represents how much your upsetting feelings are affecting your life today, at this moment. This is a baseline figure, so the exact number isn’t very significant. What’s more important is the difference between this number and your score when you start to learn emotion regulation.  As you gradually acquire emotion regulation skills, your score will decrease. The better you regulate your emotions, the more psychological flexibility you will have – that means you will feel a full range of fresh emotions rather than being stuck in old painful feelings all the time.