What is emotion regulation?
We all have painful emotions at times, this is simply part of being human. The way we manage these emotions, however, changes between people. With anxiety, the frequency and intensity of this emotion can also differ between people. As we explored in Week 1, anxiety is normal, but it can become a problem when its intensity is greater than the actual threat.
Emotion regulation refers to the way that we influence, experience, and express our emotions. There are a few factors that make it more difficult for a person to regulate their emotions. These include things like biology, lack of skill, high stress situations, personal beliefs, and environmental factors that can strengthen certain behaviours (e.g., if you are somehow rewarded for dealing with your anxiety in an unhelpful way).
The opposite of emotion regulation is emotion dysregulation, which is when emotions run wild and seem to take over. Put simply, if you have problems with social anxiety, you have problems with at least one area of emotion regulation. You experience anxiety more intensely or more frequently than others, find it difficult to manage your anxiety, or are severely limited by your anxiety. Also, your anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger.
In any case, you are likely to benefit greatly from emotion regulation skills. Emotion regulation skills will help you learn how to cope with your social anxiety in new and more helpful ways. The overall goal of these skills is not to get rid of your anxiety completely, but rather to help you manage it better. This is an important point that we will come back to later.