How to develop emotional competence

How to develop emotional competence

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.

Is burnout a mental illness?

is burnout a mental illness

If we want to answer the question “Is burnout a mental illness” we need to first establish an understanding of what mental illness is. Or better what is the definition of mental health.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community

Is burnout a mental illness?

Mental illness refers to a wide range of illnesses and conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and many more.

Mental illnesses have been stigmatized in the past and have only recently started to gain recognition and realization that they deserve. Though we are still far from addressing them equally as other types of illnesses. This is partly because our mind is such a complex thing that we are still discovering and understanding. Science still has many unanswered questions regarding what is going on in our minds and why.

Burnout as such is not a mental illness but more of a symptom. There are many underlying reasons why a person burns out. The majority of times, burnout is preventable. The main problem lies in the fact that society praises productivity and being busy all the time. We feel pressured by our colleagues and peers.

Peace and calm are the new “black”

Burnout is chronic exhaustion, often closely connected with work-related issues. It is a consequence of many, many smaller decisions and actions done during a longer period of time.

The opposite of burnout is inner peace and being a motivated and healthy individual. And it doesn’t take much to become one. It really doesn’t. Because it all comes down to healthy habits.

Our mind produces between 6,00 and 50,000 thoughts per day. The more thoughts that cross your mind, the more active your frontal part of the brain is. And that is also where the key to peace and calm lies.

In order to achieve a more pleasant state of being, we need to consciously decide, we will decrease the activity of our mind. And how to do that?

Glad you asked. In my coaching practice, I use the biohacking platform that is based on a revolutionary concept of the FlowCode®.  With the help of a biohack portal, we intentionally work on achieving the state of flow. This is also our most desired state. The state of high performance but without the negative and harmful side effect of burning out.

What are the signs of burnout?

Psychologists have been studying burnout and its effects of our mental health since the 70′ when a famous psychologist first came up with the term.

We recognize several stages of burnout and the sooner we recognize them and address them, the higher the chance of preventing it.

Is burnout a mental illness question comes in place right here. If a person recognizes that they suffer from symptoms of chronic stress and they don’t do anything about it, what does that say about the person?

Clearly, there are some issues to address. Perhaps we are not clear on our priorities and values. Perhaps we suffer from limiting beliefs and are unable to set boundaries to protect our mental health. Because we do not feel worthy. There can be various reasons. But to conclude, I don’t think burnout is a mental illness and it can be prevented and treated in the earlier stages without heavy consequences.

What are 5 signs of stress

5 signs of stress

Stress is one of the hot topics of the 21st Century.  The truth is that it has been around since the early ages and it’s nothing new in itself. However, the stress we experience today is much different from the primal one.

What causes stress?

Reasons for stress can be very different but what they all have in common is that we get an uncomfortable feeling inside of us. That means no matter what is the external cause or trigger, it all ends up in your head and your thinking. And those thoughts can become distorted with time because you are always on high alert. It’s exhausting.

What really causes this feeling inside us are actually elevated levels of a hormone named cortisol. This hormone helps us to deal with stressful situations and is meant to make us more focused and ready to act on the danger. At least that is how it was meant to work.

The difference between escaping a mammoth and dealing with work-related chronic stress nowadays is that we are experiencing it on a regular basis. And that’s definitely not good. Our bodies are constantly in high alert mode and we never get to have the “down-time” we so desperately need.

What are the 5 signs of stress?

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated
  • Sleeping problems, either too much or not enough sleep
  • Low energy, rapid heartbeat, chest-pain, regular headaches

How to manage my situation?

There is a scientifically proven method that helps us with managing and reducing stress. And it’s called “calming down your mind” a.k.a. meditation, mindfulness, stillness, you name it.

Our prefrontal cortex, the front part of our brain which is located at our forehead, is where analytical logical thinking is happening. And the frequency of thoughts directly contributes to our stress levels.

We normally produce between 6,000 and 50,000 thoughts per day. (Read this article I wrote) And knowing, that you can actually try to reduce that number intentionally and control your thoughts and your reaction to the thoughts, is very empowering information.

When we are not in the flow state, our mind works like a crazy machine but rarely gives a consistent output. When we reduce our thinking frequency, we are more likely to tap into the state of flow and produce outstanding results with ease and without becoming exhausted.


If you feel you might be suffering from chronic stress, do not ignore the signs. Act on it and do something about it. If you don’t know what to do, ask someone for help. For milder forms of chronic stress, you may hire a coach like me, but if you feel you’re way past that first level, you might consider a psychotherapist.

Burnout, prevent it before it’s too late

prevent burnout

One of my greatest missions apart from empowering people to achieve their dreams is to help people recognize and prevent burnout. Why? Because I see the negative effects of it in my daily life and I see how underestimated the symptoms are.

When  I started my coaching practice I immediately knew that one of my signature programs is going to be focused on that.

What is burnout?

The term burnout was actually first established back in 1970’s when a psychologists Herbert Freudenberger described it in one of his studies. Not that before nobody had burnout, they just did not recognize it and treat it. But Freudenberger recognized that it’s an issue among his work colleagues.

His definition is therefore closely connected with professional exhaustion. This is not to say that unemployed people, stay-at-home parents or students can not suffer from it.  But it is mostly seen in connection with work-related stress.

Even though burnout is one of the most commonly present mental health issues in our society, it is still pretty stigmatized. And due to that fact, not treated early enough when it is still rather easy to prevent it.

There are several stages of burnout and the earlier we recognize it and address it, the less time is needed for recovery. Unfortunately, we see so many professionals who wait until their bodies stop cooperating and they need to take a 6-month sabbatical instead of addressing it in the early stages where perhaps 2 or 3 weeks would be sufficient.

Different levels of burnout

Apart from Freudenberger who recognizes 12 stages of burnout, there is another famous psychologist called Christina Maslach who did extensive research and categorization of burnout. Both those categorizations have at least 3 indicators in common:

  • overwhelming exhaustion (emotional and physical)
  • cynicism
  • inefficacy (lack of feeling of accomplishment)

It is not only the presence of any of those symptoms, of course, we all feel similarly from time to time due to various reasons. The important indicator is the frequency of how often a person feels those symptoms. There’s a big difference if one feels like that every second day or if one feels it perhaps 3 times per month.

The 12 levels range from mild to worrisome. If you recognize yourself in more than 3 of them, I advise to seriously consider a therapist or a coach to prevent progression. Too many times I see people close to me ignore them and before you know it, they are not the same people. Raise your standards and put your health before your career.

12 stages of burnout:

  1. The Compulsion to Prove Oneself: demonstrating worth obsessively; tends to hit the best employees, those with enthusiasm who accept responsibility readily.
  2. Working Harder: an inability to switch off.
  3. Neglecting Needs: erratic sleeping, eating disrupted, lack of social interaction.
  4. Displacement of Conflicts: problems are dismissed; we may feel threatened, panicky, and jittery.
  5. Revision of Values: Values are skewed, friends and family dismissed, hobbies seen as irrelevant. Work is the only focus.
  6. Denial of Emerging Problems: intolerance; perceiving collaborators as stupid, lazy, demanding, or undisciplined; social contacts harder; cynicism, aggression; problems are viewed as caused by time pressure and work, not because of life changes.
  7. Withdrawal: social life small or nonexistent, need to feel relief from stress, alcohol/drugs.
  8. Odd Behavioral Changes: changes in behavior obvious; friends and family concerned.
  9. Depersonalization: seeing neither self nor others as valuable, and no longer perceive own needs.
  10. Inner Emptiness: feeling empty inside and to overcome this, look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs; activities are often exaggerated.
  11. Depression: feeling lost and unsure, exhausted, future feels bleak and dark.
  12. Burnout Syndrome: can include total mental and physical collapse; time for full medical attention.

What actions can I take to prevent it?

Clear boundaries: First of all be honest with yourself and don’t underestimate it. It is very common that in the time of pandemic people are working more than usual because there is no clear distinction when the workday ends and private life starts. You decide. Be bold and brave and let your co-workers know that after 5 or 6 p.m. you’re out no matter what.

No: The most powerful word which should be your number one habit that you need to acquire. Start being realistic about your capacity and say no more often. You can rephrase it if you are uncomfortable and say something like:”Thank you for the opportunity, but this time I need to prioritize other things.”

Breathe: I know this sounds plain and simple, but I mean it. Focusing on your breath, even if just for a couple of minutes during your workday can be very beneficial to control your stress levels and ground yourself.

Lifestyle change: I’m sorry if this doesn’t sound too exciting, but the best way to prevent burning out is to change some habits that brought you to it in the first place which means you need to revise your lifestyle. You might be a high-achiever and a workaholic, but it might be a good time to stop the glorification of busyness. It’s fine to be bored from time to time. In fact it’s needed so that our brain can process things.

Find hobbies: Take on hobbies that have nothing to do with your career. This will take your mind off of your work and put you into a completely different mental space. And remember, hobbies can be just fun. You don’t have to excel at them or achieve anything. Just be playful and enjoy it. That’s all.

Values and beliefs: Check in with your values. If one of your core beliefs and values is success and career, you might want to re-adjust the values (yes, you can do that!) and put health first. Because without health, your career is not going anywhere and you don’t need a doctor to confirm that.

Change your career, job: Believe it or not, burnout rates are higher with people who are not satisfied with their careers or they work in a toxic work environment. They might be mismatched but have been ignoring it. Think about this possibility and evaluate whether this could be one of the contributors to your burnout.

Get professional help: I mentioned before that despite burnout still being stigmatized in many cultures, you need to seek help if you feel you can not handle it alone. The more people speak up about it, the less companies will be able to ignore it and will have to acknowledge it. There are some countries where professional help is offered within the basic health insurance, but still many countries have a long way there. We need to bring change about.

Finally, since you are on this page, reading an article that I wrote, you can reach out and we can talk about it one-on-one and assess at which stage are you and what can be done about it.