Human beings are susceptible to an insurmountable amount of information on a daily basis, which leads to the formation of thoughts of all sorts. These thoughts are responsible for the dominant intelligence type of an individual as well as a consequence of it too.
We express it as the dominant intelligence type because of the 8 parameters defined by Sir Howard Gardner, where 8 different types of intelligence are responsible for the personality and behavior of an individual and the way we choose to lead our lives.
What is intrapersonal intelligence?
Intrapersonal intelligence is one of the 8 types of intelligence put forth by Howard Gardner and gives our thoughts a direction that allows self-reflection and in-depth understanding of oneself to encourage and enrich both the personal and professional life of the individual.
Individuals with higher intrapersonal intelligence are more self-aware and are better at adapting to new situations. While heightened intrapersonal intelligence comes naturally to some people, others actually work to improve their understanding of it and enrich their life with choices congruent to their personality and behavior. Working on understanding oneself might begin to feel like self-absorption; however, it is self-knowledge that most individuals lack and hence find themselves unable to conquer their biggest fears and find peace in their lives.
Once an individual is self-aware, the influence of the external environment reduces, and the individual becomes more receptive to whatever comes naturally on their way.
Characteristics of intrapersonal intelligence
While intrapersonal intelligence might reflect differently, for different individuals, certain characteristics that are common to most of us can help build an insight, leading to the eventual development of the type of intelligence itself. It can also help in better identification of one’s own strengths. A few of the typical. characteristics of individuals with high intrapersonal intelligence are as follows:
1. These individuals are highly intuitive in nature.
Intuition refers to the innate ability of an individual to trust the knowledge and information they develop, choices, and decisions they reach, without having to undergo extensive analysis. Commonly known as “gut feeling’’, their understanding of the complexity of actions and reactions allows them to deduce certain conclusions on the basis of their instincts instead of mere logic.
These individuals are in fact inclined to give more importance to their hunches and feelings and are considered emotionally driven individuals.
2. They are highly independent.
Individuals with higher intrapersonal intelligence tend to have a better understanding of themselves, which allows them to create an environment suitable for them, irrespective of the emotion they are feeling.
Like an intrapersonal individual would know the importance of their “me” time, even after being crunched under tons of work, as it would allow them to fuel back for more. Thus, these individuals are able to function and survive on their own.
3. Individuals with high intrapersonal intelligence seek motivation within themselves.
Since these individuals are higher on the scale of understanding the “why” behind their choices, it gives them an edge to keep the cycle of work required to achieve their goals running without the influence of any external motivation. They are able to find the zeal within themselves that an individual might otherwise try and find from external sources, thus creating a distraction for themselves.
4. These individuals crave alone time for self-reflection and introspection
As discussed above as well, having higher intrapersonal intelligence means having a higher understanding of the complexity and the depth of one’s own emotions, which in turn is a result of timely introspection of their choices and self-reflection into identifying gaps in their ideal and real self, if any.
5. They respond best when they are given the whole picture of a scenario and time to think things through.
An emotionally driven individual tends to be careful with their choices, by making sure that the judgment or choice made by them, is based upon complete details and thus an informed decision is made, instead of resorting to quick judgments that might turn out to be biased eventually. This is how intrapersonally intelligent individuals make sure they are at peace with their choices, demands, and decisions.
6. They are able to apply their learnings to daily activities and tasks practically.
These individuals tend to draw their own path based upon the experiences they have had, and this allows them to use their understanding and learnings and march to their own drums instead of walking the paths paved by others. They are well aware of their potential and thus use it to be as efficient and effective as possible.
7. Open to constructive criticism and have the ability to transform their negative aspects into positive aspects through practice.
As mentioned earlier as well, the individuals with higher intrapersonal intelligence have the ability to identify the gaps between their ideal and real self, and they also have the ability to absorb the identification coming from a counterpart, which means they are open to criticism that allows them to refine their functionality and thoughts and have the powerful skill of focusing on the aspect of the discussion, instead of the emotion behind it. This definitely adds a spark to their personality and improves their social relationships since they are not used to all rainbows and flowers but understand the importance of thorns too.
8. They are able to channelize their emotions more efficiently and effectively, specifically their anger.
There are several emotions that form an easy outlet, like anger, and others are more complex to even feel, like sadness. Owing to that, we usually end up finding ways to be angry at a situation, while we are actually feeling sad about it. This is the difference between an individual with higher intrapersonal intelligence and an individual without it. The former has better identification of their emotions, better coping mechanisms due to deeper understanding, and thus, better management of those emotions, since the complexity of these emotions isn’t foreign to them, which allows them to compartmentalize their feelings and be more in sync with their emotional self.
9. They are more creative and often express themselves through activities like music, art or poetry, etc.
Writing, psychology, literature, theology, or any discipline that allows us to better understand ourselves and others is what makes an individual exceptionally great with intrapersonal intelligence. These individuals are thus unable to express themselves numerically or in percentages of what they are feeling; their outlets are rather emotional, full of depth and complexity of their feelings, and abstract creations like poetry, music, pottery, etc, allow them to give an intangible shape to those feelings, give a face or voice to their perspective and share it with others.
How can we develop it?
While understanding oneself is of utmost importance to figure out our place and purpose in life. The overview of intrapersonal intelligence enlightens us about the various domains it functions in and reflects how we as individuals feel and perceive them. This makes it important for us to learn to develop the sense for intrapersonal intelligence, thus, a few ways through which an individual can develop them are:
- Developing an objective point of view: It is imperative that we develop an objective point of view in viewing things and developing our perception instead of following the herd mentality, ignoring personal areas of strengths and weaknesses, and reducing the potential opportunities one can create.
- Spending time with your thoughts, to understand the “why”, “how” and “when” behind your emotions: It is important to know the reasons and motivations behind our choices and preferences, which is in fact responsible for identifying the kind of person we are and want to become.
- Practicing mindfulness to draw attention towards both internal and external experiences of life: Deep breathing exercises and guided meditations are great ways to reconnect with oneself, and experience the gap between our inner feelings and our reactions, eventually moving on to logical and informed choices.
- Observing and processing situations before reacting to them: Individuals with a rather intrapersonal approach view things more objectively and analyse the situations and reasons before reacting to them. This allows them to make sure that they have the complete information before they respond and do not regret their actions later.
- Combat negative self-talk and develop counter questions to convert them into positive solutions through logic: It is very easy to view oneself in a negative light amongst the daily stressors and experiences below expectations. However, the fight that an individual does with himself/herself to make sure that self-love exists allows them to eliminate negative self-talk and replace it with solutions rather than problems.
- By allowing oneself to deal with a situation in the most natural way, whether it’s correct or not, and then finding ways to enrich it if required: When we allow ourselves to be naturally present, without the impact of our past and worry of future, we make sure to identify our flaws, and gaps in perception and understanding, and work on them to improve our decisions.
- Engaging in activities that allow self-introspection and reflection along with mindfulness, like yoga: Relaxing activities like practicing yoga, can help in rewiring the brain to breathe and reflect on the needs of the body and the mind and give it the time required to heal from the minor to major traumas, our body goes through on a daily basis.
- Enhance positive self-talk through affirmations and focusing on smaller and subjective moments of happiness: Amongst the daily hustle, we often forget to acknowledge the little progress we make in our lives, we tend to overlook the gestures that bring a smile to our faces, and end up getting disappointed in case the larger goals didn’t get fulfilled. However, reinforcing oneself to enhance positive self-talk and acknowledging the tiniest of moments can be helpful in de-stressing at the end of the day.
Examples of intrapersonal intelligence
A few examples of situations that can help in the identification of the role of intrapersonal intelligence in our lives can be as follows:
1. Wrong Career/Role
You took a career test after graduation and applied for a job according to the results, without having to consider its actual congruence with your personality and passion. Now, 5 years later, you drag yourself to work every day, wait for the day to end, only to go home tired and get ready to face the blues of it again.
However, if you choose to take a more self-aware path now, it would definitely feel difficult and out of your comfort zone, but at the same time, it would require you to invest yourself into self-introspection to figure out your aspirations in life, strengths and weaknesses, the gaps that need to be filled to reach those goals you had created 5 years ago, and the path to choose to embark this journey.
Thus, through intrapersonal intelligence, we can figure out our productive purpose in life, or at least find our path to true potential through informed and aware choices.
2. Meeting New People
You always find yourself in a social circle that does not cater to your personalized needs and always ends up feeling out of place. In such scenarios, having heightened intrapersonal intelligence comes in handy, where an understanding of oneself helps in developing an understanding of others. Once that has been established, then make sure that people who are congruent to your lifestyle choices and personality are the only ones that stay in your immediate social circle and are bound to improve your quality of life and influence.
This would require the individual to have intuition about the perspective of the people involved in their social circle and make connections dependent on the intuition itself.
3. Aspiring For a Healthier Lifestyle
When the motivation behind the aspiration of a healthy lifestyle is to “follow the trend”, we end up buying expensive machines, altering our schedules for difficult group sessions, buying juicers, grinders, and supplements, and altering our lifestyles, in accordance with what is being done by the maximum population. However, most of the time, these strategies don’t yield results and end up making us feel guilty and like a failure for overspending over not being able to achieve our goals.
However, when our motivation towards adopting a healthier lifestyle is based on our personal needs and derived from ourselves, the quality of results and satisfaction increases significantly. Thus, choices that are made through self-reflection, based upon self-motivation, are bound to yield results that lead us to a more satisfied and acceptable platform in life.
While all of us are similar to a great extent, the difference in our capabilities, expertise, and skills, is defined by the type of intelligence, dominant in an individual. While each and every type of intelligence has its own strengths, the important aspects mentioned above discussion about the importance of intrapersonal intelligence and how it shapes the life, choice, personality, and behaviors of an individual.
It also highlights the characteristics of individuals who function with the use of their intrapersonal intelligence and lead a rather mindful life through it.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,