“ Who taught you all this, doctor?” The reply came promptly: “Suffering” – Albert Camus
The most fortunate among us were lucky enough to be raised by emotionally intelligent adults who contributed to our developing a healthy amount of confidence in our self-worth, our capabilities and place in the world.
To those less fortunate, confidence suffers. So when people in therapy ask me how they can become more confident, I tell them that we could start by initially working on building their emotional intelligence.
One cannot define emotional intelligence in single terms but only through a description of what it means to be emotionally intelligent.
Emotionally intelligent people tend to be, according to Daniel Goleman, author of the groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence, socially poised to reach out to new people, assertive with a tendency to express their feelings directly and appropriately ( and not in outbursts they later regret), and are sympathetic and caring in their relationships.
Goleman says they also tend to have a capacity for commitment to people and causes, feel positive about themselves and have a rich emotional life.. Furthermore, they are ethical and comfortable enough with themselves to be playful, spontaneous and open to sensual experience. They are comfortable with others and the social universe they live in. Life holds meaning.
Emotions are important for building confidence because they are the driving force of our behavior and how we feel about ourselves. By raising our self-awareness we are in a stronger position to motivate ourselves to take the action we want but have not dared to.
Emotional intelligence relates to being able to rein in our emotional impulses, to read another’s innermost feelings and to handle relationships smoothly- qualities that are also profitable in business, education and, really, all walks of life.
According to Kate Burton and Brinley Platts, who are personal and professional development experts, emotional intelligence relates to a range of competencies centered around: a) personal competence, or how we handle ourselves, our awareness of our feelings, and our understanding of our capabilities; and b) social competence, or how we handle our relationships with other people, in particular how we manage our unhelpful relationships, how we exhibit empathy and how much flexibility we can demonstrate in dealing with difficult situations.
The good news is that we can improve our emotional intelligence and build our confidence over time.