First of all let’s break down what emotional competence is. When we say someone is competent in something, we trust them that they are knowledgable about a certain topic. They have some experience and know how to handle things in that area. We would also turn to them for advice.
Emotional competence is the ability to deal with one’s own emotions and desires in a satisfactory and appropriate way. It presupposes that an individual is capable of managing their own emotions in what we could say a healthy way.
Capacity to our feel our emotions
In order to develop emotional competence we need to first be able to feel. It may sound strange to say this, but in present society ability to feel is often times not seen as something desirable.
Especially in the patriarchal societies where absence of emotions is the prevailing ethic. Where being emotional is a sign of weakness, and crying is mocked. We are creating generations after generations of emotionally incompetent humans.
Social media and online dating are not helping either. Creating genuine emotional connection with another human being became a rarity. We have so many references to compare with as well as so much “offer”. That the minute something does not feel good anymore or one encounters a minor unpleasant emotion, we are one swipe away from that next dopamine high.
Ability to express emotions
If we want to be able to develop emotional competence, we need to be able to not just understand what we are feeling, but also to express it.
We need to be able to assert our needs and establish our emotional boundaries. If we do not express and communicate our emotions, it is very unlikely we will be able to satisfy them.
Distinguish between past and future
Understanding our emotional needs is crucial to distinguish what emotional need originates in the past and manifests in the present as a trauma response.
We are ideally seeking to satisfy our emotional needs that serve our present state without inlfuence of the past. If one does not clearly distinguish between past and present, they may react to certain present events in an unreasonable manner. People can develop massive fear of abandonment, being a control freak etc.
Satisfaction of emotional needs
When our emotional needs are not met, it can result in an illness or stress. Putting other people’s needs before ours, is not always a noble thing to do. Especially if this is something that we do on a constant basis.
When people are afraid of rejection or seek approval of others and thus respress their own emotional needs, their body and mind suffer the consequences in the longterm.
How to develop emotional competence
All of the above mentioned criteria are crucial in developing one’s emotional competence and becoming a healthy and emotionally balanced individual.
If you know that you lack one of them, try to pay closer attention and strategically work on the aspect that is missing.
Emotional competence is something that we all need to develop if we want to live a balanced life and not risk our own health. Our mind and body are connected thus not nurturing our emotions, can result in series of physical illnesses.
If you are coming from a family background where your parents did not foster the emotional competence, then you should pay the more attention to this area. Communicate with your partner, your children and your close friends about this. You may as well hire a coach if you think that would help. There are many ways how to practice and foster new behaviours.