Examples of Emotions that Fit the Facts

Module: Emotion Regulation

Emotion Regulation Handout 8A – Examples of Emotions that Fit the Facts

When checking the facts, it can be hard to determine if what you’re feeling is justified or not. I know for myself, sometimes what I’m feeling is so strong that I think I’m already working the facts. I believe they are justified. So I wonder what do I need to do this step for?

Obviously you need to be honest with yourself when checking the facts because without it you’ll end up in the same spot as you started with nothing to work with to change or resolve the emotion or situation.

I can personally attest to this because at first I wasn’t that honest. Not because I wanted to lie about it but because I felt the fear of people not liking me so far that it was a fact. The truth is though I have no evidence to support this belief. I mean, maybe everyone might not like me, but frankly I don’t really care about everyone. I’m worried enough if the people I like, and my friends like me. I just wanted to believe that the people I liked, and my friends liked me. When I checked the facts, and was honest about it, it turns out I didn’t have much to fear in terms of rejection. My friends, they liked me.

One thing that helped me to determine what the facts were, and if they fit was reading the Emotions Handout 6, their prompting events, and interpretations that made me realize I was feeling a lot of unjustified fear and shame.

Since it would take up a lot to list each of the emotions from Handout 6, their respective prompting events, and interpretations etc., is first of all a copyright issue, but also it’s a lot to paraphrase, and I’m not sure I can do it.

It’s much easier to use examples of emotions that fit the facts, to see if it’s justified or not, and then whether to do Opposite Action, or Problem Solve.

The following are examples of emotions that fit the facts:
There is a threat to you or someone you care about.
There is a threat to your body, health, well-being, or property.
There is a threat to the body, health, well-being, or property of someone you care about.

A goal is being blocked, or prevented from being attained.
Something you enjoy doing, or pursuing is blocked or prevented from being attained.
There is a threat of attack to you or someone you care about.
You or someone you care about is insulted.
You or someone you care about is offended.
Your integrity, status, or well-being is attacked or threatened.

You come into contact with something that can make you sick.
You listen or witness an opinion or behavior that goes against your own moral code.
Someone you dislike speaks to you or touches you.
Someone you dislike speaks or touches someone you care about.

Someone has things or privileges that you want.

Someone or something you care about is being pursued by someone else.
Someone or something you value is in danger of being taken away.

You cherish, adore, or connect significantly to another person, or animal.

You have lost something or someone you care about.
An expectation of a person or situation has fallen short, or has not been met.

You or something about you (personality, behavior, values, opinions, etc.) is rejected, insulted, or offended by another.

You do or say something that goes against your own moral code.

It helps a lot to have these to refer to when figuring out if an emotion fits the fact. A number of times now I’ve referred to these examples and realized I was kind off the mark.

Bye for now!

Skills, Handouts, and Worksheets from DBT Skills Training Manual, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan. Copyright 2015 by Marsha M. Linehan.



A Word About Vulnerability Factors

Something that comes up a lot in DBT, is the term “vulnerability factors”. This is typically in reference to dealing with emotions and when applying the skills.

What vulnerability factors present in any given situation can vary from person to person, and even day to day. They are factors that can be significant enough that they determine what emotion you feel in response to a situation, and they can inhibit how you handle an emotion, and what, if any, skills you try to use.

Some examples of vulnerability factors include, but not limited to:

  • Poor, or not enough sleep
  • Unbalanced diet, or missing meals
  • Mood-altering substances
  • Medications
  • A distressing situation occurring prior to the current event or emotion
  • Stress
  • Anxiety

Any of these on their own can be a vulnerability factor affecting your mood, emotions, capability, sensitivity, or even the desire to apply the skills.

The more vulnerability factors that are present the more your emotions and mood can be subject to sensitivity or susceptibility to feeling emotions that don’t seem to fit the situation, or feeling the emotion stronger than had there not been any vulnerability factors present.

For example:
You have trouble falling asleep one night, and end up waking up late. You don’t have time to eat breakfast, or make your lunch because you’re running too late, and you end up being late for work.
In the morning, you attend a meeting and realize you’ve forgotten your notes for the presentation and now the meeting has to be rescheduled.
You go for lunch and since you woke up late, and didn’t have time to make your lunch, you have to buy your lunch today instead, except you’ve forgotten your bank card at home. So now you’re forced to eat a small apple and granola bar that you keep in your desk.
At the end of the day as you’re leaving work, you see that it’s raining, and you don’t have your umbrella with you.
As you enter the subway, someone accidentally bumps into you, and before you can stop and think, you turn and your response is to freak out on the person, yelling at them, calling them an idiot for bumping into you, and they should be paying attention to where they are going.

So as you can see, this would be a crap day for pretty much anybody.

Now let’s consider the situation and the emotion and the vulnerability factors present.

The Situation: Someone accidentally bumped into you.
The Emotion: Anger, specifically hostility or even rage.

Considering the situation and the emotion, is hostility or rage towards the other person justified?

The emotion of anger as frustration or irritation may be justified but the intensity spiked up at rage or hostile doesn’t quite fit. And the reason why lies in the vulnerability factors that were present at the time that the situation occurred.

The vulnerability factors for this situation started the night before when you didn’t get to sleep on time, and woke up late the next morning. Then not having the time to eat breakfast or make your lunch has added on to the first two factors. Then you got to work late, and forgot the notes for the presentation, so now you’ve added more factors, and slowly your mood is becoming more and more sensitive. Next we have forgetting your bank card, and missing eating a proper lunch, adding another significant factor since by now all you’ve had to eat all day is an apple and a granola bar. Then we have leaving work, and not having an umbrella to use in the downpour has compounded onto an already hefty pile of factors, so that when the person in the subway accidentally bumps into you it has caused an intense reaction that is disproportionate to the situation.

Think about if you had gotten a good night’s sleep, and woken up on time, had breakfast, had time to make your lunch, and gotten to work on time. You were prepared for the meeting and then had a proper lunch, and leaving work you had your umbrella with you. When the person in the subway accidentally bumped into you, you most likely either wouldn’t have been as hostile to the person, or more likely, you probably wouldn’t have even noticed the bump in the first place.

Vulnerability factors can make a significant impact on your emotions whether it’s one factor or twenty, so as part of DBT, but really for anyone, having an awareness of your vulnerability factors when trying to manage emotions can help to understand why the emotion that did came up, how intense the emotion may feel, and how we handle it with skill, or not.

Some vulnerability factors can’t be helped sometimes, no matter how much we try to keep things balance. The key is to first do what you can to take care of yourself and minimize your vulnerability factor low, but also when they are present, to be aware of them and take them into consideration when dealing with situations that spark a heightened reaction.

There are several Handouts and Worksheets covered in Emotion Regulation that include how to reduce vulnerability factors, so there will be more info on this to follow in a later post or two.

Good luck!

Bye for now!