• Intrapersonal Intelligence — the Most Underrated Intelligence & How To Develop It

    • August 6, 2020
    Intrapersonal Intelligence — the Most Underrated Intelligence & How To Develop It

    At the turn of the 19th century, IQ tests were devised to measure human intelligence; a set of questions that analyze one’s cognitive ability. This would later become a popular barometer to measure human intelligence — while intelligence itself gained connotation with logic and reasoning. 

    However, recent research and investigation suggest logical and reasoning intelligence is just a part of the story.  Rather than measuring intelligence as a generalized or single quantitative measure, it can be divided into several modules or as the renowned psychologist Howard Gardner proposed the multiple intelligence theory.  And intrapersonal intelligence is one of the multiple intelligences that we possess. Let’s dive deep into this to understand what exactly is intrapersonal intelligence and how can we develop it. 

    What Is Interpersonal Intelligence?

    The prefix ‘intra-’ means within or on the inside. And intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge. So intrapersonal intelligence is the ability of an individual to understand and analyze one’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs, desires, and goals. It’s the intelligence about oneself. 

    Gardner proposes it as a person’s skill to assess the strength, weaknesses, and cognizance about one’s thoughts and feelings. This ability to introspect and understand the motivations and fears can have a tremendous impact on creativity, learning, and personal & professional life. It’s about to channelize your thoughts — be it positive or negative  — and communicating with oneself.

    “Intrapersonal intelligence allows one to understand and work with oneself. In the individual’s sense of self, one encounters a melding of interpersonal and intrapersonal components.”

                                                                        — Howard Gardner

    Some common examples of interpersonal intelligence can be self-discipline, adaptability towards a situation, and even the ability to overcome distractions. 

    Why Intrapersonal Intelligence Is Important?

    “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

                                                                              — Aristotle

    Many times it’s not the external factors but the internal ones that ashtrays you from the goals. An individual can be highly skilled and even possess the intelligence to fulfill the task but a lack of intrapersonal skills make them succumb to impulses and negative self-talk. 

    People with high intrapersonal intelligence possess the ability of self-regulation that allows them to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Historical figures such as Socrates, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, and Einstein are believed to have high intrapersonal intelligence that helped them to understand themself very well. Here’re some of the benefits of possessing high intrapersonal intelligence.


    Introspection makes one aware of one’s personality, traits, emotions, motivations, and aspirations. 


    Understanding oneself provides internal drive and force that keeps them moving forward. It cultivates intrinsic motivation.


    Self-awareness with intrapersonal intelligence equips you with the ability to better manage and overcome the shortcomings.


    The ability to guide one’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior make them flexible towards changing circumstances. 


    Deep focus and concentration can be developed when you know the reasons for distractions within you.

    Suggested Read: What Is Selective Attention — How It Works, Theories and Some Fun Tests

    How Can You Work on Your Intrapersonal Skills?

    Keep a Journal

    If you are into self-development, you might already be aware of the life-changing benefits of journaling. Writing daily reflections and keeping a track of your thoughts, feelings, goals, and life is indeed an effective way to nurture intrapersonal intelligence. Even many studies have suggested that journaling can have immense benefits such as improving mental health after a traumatic event, enhanced communication skills, reduction in emotional distress, and mental stimulation

    You can start with just putting down your ideas into the journal for 5 minutes in the morning. It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary. Tim Ferris, the renowned American author, and entrepreneur explains how he keeps it simple: “Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull.” So, start to jot down your thoughts, keep it simple, and stay consistent.


    Meditation is training the mind to channel thoughts and keep them focused. A habit of meditation can help you to be mindful, keep you aware of your thoughts, and help you tackle the negative ones. 

    For thousands of years, meditation has been used to deepen the connection with oneself, relax mental faculties, and bring the tranquillity of mind. While meditating you are training your mind to focus and attune the wandering mind and wavering thoughts. This ultimately leads to better mental well-being, self-awareness, patience, and focus.

    Cultivate a Growth Mindset

    A growth mindset is a belief in one’s ability to learn, improve, and face challenges. People with growth mindsets are deemed to be more resilient, persistent, and happy. It is one of the keys because it helps to focus on improving yourself and curb the negative-self talk that can debilitate interpersonal intelligence. A growth mindset can help not only understand yourself better by acknowledging the flaws, fears, and imperfections but at the same time help you cultivate a habit to improve. 

    Practice Self-Reflection

    Self-reflection is the basis of developing intrapersonal intelligence. In its simplest form, it is to understand the “why” behind your behavior, attitude, motivations, and thoughts. It helps you understand the influence and reasons that directed your decisions, behavior, and thinking process. It can allow you to analyze your life internally and externally at micro and macro levels and make necessary adjustments to develop a high intrapersonal intelligence.Intapersonal Intelligence Infographic

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